Beware Bangla! Kenyan lion on the prowl at Johannesburg

Published: Friday, February 28, 2003, 2:44 [IST]
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Nairobi: His teammates have nicknamed him Lion, the King of the Jungle. "He has a lion heart, walks like a lion and has the strength of a lion," said Kenyan skipper Steve Tikolo referring to his young bowler Collins Omondi Obuya. The towering 21-year-old leg spinner became a world celebrity when he took a lion's share five wickets for 24, in Kenya's stunning World Cup win over former One-day champions Sri Lanka at the Nairobi Gymkhana club on Monday. "The boy has come of age, he will definitely go places," Kenya's former international fast bowler, Edward Tito Odumbe, said on Thursday.

"I will not be surprised if he does continue with his sparkling form against Bangladesh in Johannesburg on Saturday," Odumbe added. It was Tito, the elder brother of Maurice Odumbe, who encouraged the young Obuya to take up cricket at his former league side, the Aga Khan Sports Club in the 1990s. "I had seen his talents for spin and he was always eager to learn. He has now grown up to become a good all-rounder", said Tito Odumbe, who coached Obuya and the national under-19 team to the ICC Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Obuya's prodigious talent, following in the footsteps of his elder siblings, Kennedy and David, was noticed during the West Indies tour of Kenya in August 2001. He made his One-day International debut with a magnificent 47, the second highest score to Tikolo's 59 in the three-day match against the two-time World champions. He may have been the most expensive Kenyan bowler in the series, but he was slowly learning the tricks of the game. But now he is ready to go on the prowl again at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday when Kenya takes on Test newcomers Bangladesh.

"I have no doubt that the boys will stay concentrated. Collins should provide the impetus for them to play well," Kenya Cricket Association World Cup organising committee chairman Sharad Ghai said on Thursday. "We have to play hard and give the best," Ghai added. Copyright AFP 2001

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