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The Electronic Telegraph Warm-up Match: Somerset v Kenya
Bryon Butler at Taunton - 7 May 1999

Kenya confident of holding their own

Kenya (224-8) lost to Somerset (227-3) by seven wickets

Nothing much that Kenya did in losing comprehensively to Somerset suggested they'll be playing at Lord's in late June; but they could still be one of the nations which profits most from the World Cup.

They believe a bravura performance or two will give their domestic game a hefty push and new sheen.

Kenya currently have 26 clubs and 1,500 players and embraced professionalism properly only eight months ago, but the aim is to have 10,000 players in three years' time. Asif Karim and his team have a cause as well as a challenge.

``We've had our moments,'' said Harilal Shah, Kenya's tour manager, ``and, even though football's the main game, interest at home is tremendous and still growing. In the last World Cup we simply tried to put on a good show. Now we've something more on our minds.''

Kenya's formal introduction to English conditions, however, was glum: heavy clouds, half an hour's rain, a stoppage or two for injuries, a gallery of about 200 and not enough atmosphere to fill a shopping bag.

All things considered, they didn't do badly.

The backbone of Kenya's innings was opener Ravindu Shah, benefiting perhaps from his club experience in England with North Mimms, who made 73 (nine fours, 130 minutes) mostly with shots off the front foot. An early life and a few edges added to the mix.

Steve Tikolo, of whom much is expected, came and went in a jiffy. He twice straight drove Andy Caddick for four but then, a blow too far, he mishooked to square leg.

Thomas Odoyo lustily pulled Keith Parsons and then Caddick for six in his 36, and Karim (35 not out) and Mohammed Sheikh (13 not out) added 39 for the ninth wicket. But Somerset were nothing if not generous.

The county side bowled 23 wides and had umpires David Shepherd and Bill Smith extending their arms so often and so regularly that at one point they looked as if they were trying to fly. Somerset, without captain Jamie Cox and the likes of Graham Rose, Paul Jarvis and Adrianus Van Troost because of injury, began circumspectly but then picked up pace.

Kenya used nine bowlers but suggested little in the way of sharp teeth on a gentlemanly track. Their fielding, however, was uniformly sharp and aggressive.

Piran Holloway (96 not out, 119 balls, nine fours and one six) confidently led the Somerset charge with bullying support from Parsons (68 not out, 70 balls, six fours) - their fourth-wicket partnership worth 134.

Kenya, nonetheless, fancy their chances, particularly if and when they get some sun on their backs.

They believe, says Harilal Shah, who captained Kenya in the Seventies, that they have a better than even chance against Zimbabwe and even fancy themselves against India (''if we can get Tendulkar out'') and Sri Lanka (''because anything can happen against them'').

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk