Kenya face Hong Kong in World Cricket Championship

This is the first ICC sanctioned game to be held in Nairobi since June 2011 when United Arab Emirates (UAE) toured Kenya in round one of the ICC Intercontinental Cup that took place at the Nairobi Gymkhana.

Kenya will on Friday fight it out with Hong Kong for four crucial points in the first of the two 50-over games in the ICC World Cricket League Championship at the Nairobi Gymkhana.

The second match is set for Sunday.

After that ICC avoided Nairobi for alleged fear of terrorist attack.

This is the second time for Hong Kong to visit Kenya. They first came here in 1994 during the ICC trophy that brought together 20 ICC associate teams to fight for three slots in the 1996 World Cup that was jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Kenya, UAE and Netherlands qualified for the World Cup.

Currently, even though both teams are associate members of ICC, Hong Kong is a notch high than Kenya because they have one day international (ODI) status. Kenya lost the status during the 2014 World Cup qualifier in New Zealand.

Eight teams are taking part in the championship: Papua New Guinea who are topping points table with 12 points, Netherlands (12), Scotland (11), Hong Kong (9), Kenya (6), Nepal (6), Namibia (2) and UAE (2).

The ICC is using the event as part of the qualifier for London 2019 World Cup that will feature 10 teams.

The top four teams of the championship at the end of the season, December 30, 2017 will be joined by six others. The 10 sides will meet in Bangladesh in 2018 and the two finalist will qualify for the World Cup.

The ICC has not reserved slots for non-Test playing teams.

Previously four places were set aside for ICC associate and affiliates members.

Kenya coach Thomas Odoyo is fully aware of the importance of the game and knows his charges must fight tooth and nail to win so as to enhance their chances of finishing the league among the top four teams.

“The boys have what it takes to win the two games and only need to remain focused. They are rearing to go and we hope that playing at home will give us an advantage,” Odoyo said.

International Alex Obanda will be hoping to inspire Kenya to victory.

The Hong Kong national team arrived in the country on Tuesday and trained at the Sikh Union grounds on Wednesday under tight security.

They come into the match straight from a 2-1 ODI win against Papua New Guinea and will heavily rely on the leadership of 24-year-old Babar Hayat.

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