x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Kenya captain Obuya wary of UAE challenge in Intercontinental Cup

Collins Obuya, the Kenya captain, is expecting the UAE to provide four tough days of cricket in their Intercontinental Cup match in Nairobi.

The UAE beat Kenya in a 50-over match, but now they face them in a four-day match.
The UAE beat Kenya in a 50-over match, but now they face them in a four-day match.

Collins Obuya, the Kenya captain, is expecting the UAE to provide four tough days of cricket when their Intercontinental Cup match begins in Nairobi today.

The UAE showed their potential with a commanding four-wicket win over the hosts in the second 50-over match on Tuesday, after they had lost the rain-curtailed first by 66 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method.

It was their first win in Kenya in 10 years, but the longer version of the game will provide a completely different challenge for the UAE as they play very little four-day cricket. Still, with the experience in their team, Obuya believes they will be a tough opponent for his new-look side.

"It has been a while since we played UAE, but they have a very experienced side in comparison to our younger, newer squad," Obuya said.

"Their bowling attack is strong and tends to win matches for them, especially on spinner-friendly wickets. They might have played in the Intercontinental Shield last year, but they will sure give us a tough challenge."

The UAE finished runners-up to Namibia in the four-day Intercontinental Shield last year and earned a ticket to the eight-team Intercontinental Cup (I-Cup), the premier tournament for non-Test playing nations, after winning the World Cricket League Division Two title without losing a game.

Their last appearance in the I-Cup came in the 2007/08 season, when they finished sixth. That was also the last time the UAE played Kenya in a four-day match, losing by 81 runs, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

In Nairobi, the conditions will be very different, and Obuya, 29, is hoping to exploit them and make a good start to the tournament, which runs until 2013.

"To some extent we have home advantage because we are used to pitch conditions while the weather here is very different from the UAE, thus playing a key role to our game plan," he said. "We are coming off playing the shorter version of the game and so the longer version will need a lot more energy and concentration, and we will need to be at our best to register our first win in the Intercontinental Cup competition this year."

The UAE face a similar challenge, but Khurram Khan, the captain, believes the two 50-over matches have put them on the right path.

"The bowlers did a great job in those two matches," Khurram, 40, said. "Shoaib Sarwar got a five-for and both he and Amjad Javed did really well in the second match as well.

"The batsmen also got a knock, everybody had 30 or 40 odd runs. So we have a strong team which is very mature and I believe if we remain committed and focused we can do well in this match and beyond."

Mohammed Lokhandwala, the team manager, shared the optimism, buoyed by the manner of Tuesday's win.

"Now we are in a much more confident frame of mind to kick off the four-day game," he said. "We could not have asked for a better preparation for this match."

The UAE have a modest record in the Intercontinental Cup and Kabir Khan, the coach, has challenged his team to improve on their earlier performances.

They reached the last four of the I-Cup in 2004 and 2005, but failed to win a single point in 2006 and finished sixth in 2008.

"We've had some good performances in the recent times, but we need to do better in the format and we're definitely looking forward to returning to playing with the red ball," Kabir said.

"We've seen Kenya play before, but we're a strong side and will be ready for whatever challenges they offer to us."