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Kenya face Papua New Guniea as cricket World Cup qualifiers kick- off

13 January 2014, 16:06

Nairobi - Past record will not be of importance as Kenya launches its latest bid Monday against Papua New Guinea to qualify for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Two slots are up for grabs by any of the 10 teams taking part in the tournament, which will be played in two stages -- group phase and Super Six level.

Peter Ongondo, who is the team assistant coach-cum-player, is hopeful, Kenya will weather the storm and capture one of the berths to make it to the sixth World Cup in a row.

"It playing against such teams that makes one realize their true potential. The team here has shown commitment and determination and it will not be a walk through the pack to nail that spot," said Ongondo.

Cricket Kenya has reshuffled the team and named new player-cum-coach Steve Tikolo and captain Rakep Patel to be in-charge of the squad.

They were in-charge as Kenya lost to Hong Kong and beat Nepal in the warm up matches last week in New Zealand.

Kenya is the only team in the tournament to have played in five successive ICC Cricket World Cups - 1996 to 2011.

Kenya also has a good record in the World Cup qualifiers, having reached the semi-finals in 1990 and finished as the runners-up in 1994 and 1997.

However, Ongondo believes the key to combat their opponents is fixed on strong batting order and good bowling. To do that he has recalled Thomas Odoyo in the batting order and Shem Ngoche to steer the teams campaign in bowling.

"Ngoche is one of the best bowlers we have and if he plays well then everything will be fine. He has been with the team before and he knows exactly what is required of him," he said.

"But even in batting, I believe it is here that the games will be won. If we have it right, then Odoyo will lead us through," the coach said.

The ICC has already completed the drawing of lots and Group A will consist of United Arab Emirates, Scotland, Canada, Hong Kong and Nepal, while Group B includes the Netherlands, Kenya, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.

The two finalists will take the last remaining spots in the World Cup draw. Ireland and Afghanistan have already qualified. The group stage of the tournament will be held between January 13 and 23, followed by the Super Six stage between Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.

The schedule for the Super Six stage is based on rankings given to teams in the group stages. If the top three teams qualify for the Super Six stage, they retain their group-stage ranking irrespective of their position on the points table.

However, if a team that is ranked fourth or fifth in the group stage qualifies for the Super Six, they will assume the ranking of the team they have displaced.

The top three sides from each group will progress to the Super Six stage, where they will play the teams from the opposing group.

The top two teams will secure the ticket to the World Cup, where they will join the 10 test nations as well as Afghanistan and Ireland in the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, played from February 14 to March 29, 2015.

Kenya line-up has a number of players from the 2009 World Cup qualifiers with only five players Ragheb Aga, Duncan Allan, Irfan Karim, Shem Ngoche and Nelson Odhiambo missing.

- Xinhua


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