Varaiya returns to the crease

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
May 12, 2017
  • Hiren Varaiya returns to the national team after nearly two years out. (SNA. File Photo)

Former national team spinner Hiren Varaiya returns to the international scene after almost one and a half a year absence after being selected in one of the two sides named by Cricket Kenya to play Oman, Singapore and Malaysia in Nairobi this weekend.

Cricket Kenya named two teams for the upcoming series Kenya XI and Kenya Select.

The XI team consists bulk of players that played in last month’s 4-0 whitewash in the hands of host Uganda in Kampala.

The matches will be played at both Nairobi Jafferys and Sikh Union Nairobi. The XI team that will be captained by Shem Obado will play Oman at Nairobi Jafferys while the Select team captained by Alex Obanda will be at Sikh Union.

Unlike in most fixtures where all teams play equal matches, the Kenya Select will only play three matches against Oman, Singapore and Malaysia while Kenya XI which has local top players will play four matches.

After announcing his retirement from the national team in 2014, Varaiya had a brief return to the national return when Kenya played Namibia in the ICC World Cricket League Championship match in Windhoek.

He led Kenya to a 2-0 win over the hosts but was not available again last year. He however had a good domestic season when he led Stray Lions to their maiden league title.

Stray Lions wicketkeeper Abraham Vadada will be a key player behind the stumps for Kenya XI with the non availability of Irfan Karim.

Alex Obanda who has struggled for form in the national team for a while now is the only formidable batsman in the Select side that is highly composed of uncapped players who are looking to get a place in the national team.

Nairobi Gymkhana is the only other batsman in the team that has international team.

International experience

Other players with international experience in the Obanda-led side are bowlers, Eugene Ochieng and Emmanuel Bundi. Ochieng was part of the squad which played in the Kenyan whitewash series in Uganda.

Kanbis spinner Pushpak Kerai who was also part of the squad that was in Uganda is also in the squad. Under-19 prospect Adarsh Sawjani has also been named on the Select side.

The Mombasa-based player is expected to use the series to prepare for the forthcoming ICC U19 World Cup set for next month. Sikh Union Nairobi all-rounder Zahid Abbas and his team mate Amman Gandhi also landed the selectors confidence same to Swamibapa opening batsman Nicholas Oluoch.

National coach Thomas Odoyo said: “This is an extremely youthful side, but one which showcases some of the very best talent rising through,” Odoyo said of the Select side.

“We are determined to continue to stretch the best young players to challenge themselves at the highest level possible, and this an unbelievable opportunity for these players to test their skills against an international line-up. We believe every player in this squad has the talent to compete at this level, and we look forward to seeing them rise to the occasion in this series.”

The XI team has only three players Dennis Musyoka, Parth Patel and Peter Koech with no international experience.

It will be the third time in two years that Vadada will be representing the country in an international event after having been selected by Steve Tikolo for a series in South Africa in 2015 and then playing for Kenya in Uganda last year November.

The three countries are using the series to prepare for ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament set for Uganda.

Squads

Kenya XI: Dhiren Gondaria, Abraham Vadada, Gurdeep Singh, Collins Obuya, Rushabh Patel, Nelson Odhiambo, Shem Obado, Lucas Oluoch, Elijah Otieno, Hiren Varaiya, Peter Koech, Parth Patel, Dennis Musyoka.

Kenya Select: Alex Obanda, Karan Kaul, Zaheed Abbas, Emmanuel Bundi, Thomas Kochieng, Ankith Patel, Eugene Ochieng, Peterson Kamau, Adarsh Sawjani, Sagar Karia, Nicholas Oluoch, Aveet Desai, Amman Gandhi, Pushpak Kerai.

Fixtures

Sunday May 14: Kenya XI vs Oman (Nairobi Jafferys), Kenya Select vs Malaysia (Sikh Union).

Monday May 15: Kenya Select vs Oman (Nairobi Jafferys), Kenya XI vs Malaysia (Sikh Union).

Tuesday May 16: Rest Day.

Wednesday May 17: Oman vs Malaysia (Nairobi Jafferys), Kenya XI vs Singapore ( Sikh Union).

Thursday May 18: Singapore vs Malaysia (Nairobi Jafferys) Kenya XI vs Oman (Sikh Union).

Friday May 19: Rest Day.

Saturday May 20: Kenya Select v Singapore (Nairobi Jafferys).