Kenya host Hong Kong as security threat eases

Shem Ngoche of Kenya (Getty Images)
Shem Ngoche of Kenya (Getty Images)

Nairobi - Kenyan cricketers are looking forward to playing their first international game after a four-year hiatus when they host Hong Kong in a World Cricket League qualifier in Nairobi on Friday.

Due to security concerns, Kenya was forced to play their first home game of the tournament against the United Arab Emirates in Southampton, England in June 2015.

Kenya has not played at home since a series of bomb attacks hit the capital in 2012.

Coach Thomas Odoyo says playing at the Nairobi Gymkhana club would provide boost his side, which is currently fifth in the competition.

"It' pleasing for us that we are coming back to play in the conditions we are used to" said Odoyo, a former national team all-rounder.

"This gives us an advantage over our rivals, Hong Kong who are playing here for the first time."

The attacks followed Kenya's decision to send troops to Somalia to battle the Shabaab militant group, which had threatened the country's tourism sector.

But of particular concern for Odoyo and his players is the sudden change of the weather in Nairobi, which has been experiencing heavy rains over the past two days.

"If it continous raining it will upset our game plans because the ball tends to swing when it is windy and cloudy," Odoyo said.

A victory for Kenya will see them swap places with Hong Kong who are placed fourth in the tournament, where the two top teams will qualify to play in the final round of qualifiers for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.

Hong Kong arrive in Nairobi fresh from their 2-1 home win over tournament leaders, Papua New Guinea earlier this month, and a victory against Kenya will see them go top of the standings.

Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat, who scored a match-winning 82 in the decider against Papua New Guinea is relishing the Kenya challenge.

"I know bowling is our strength, and if we do well in batting, we can defend any total against Kenya. These are really important games for us," said Hayat.

Security will be on red alert for the match with Cricket Kenya announcing the deployment of a specially-trained security team to assist the regular uniformed police around the Gymkhana club grounds.

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