Kutchis will keenly follow Kenyan Cup ties

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2007, 5:30 [IST]
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The Indian cricket aficionados are keenly awaiting India- Bangladesh tie on the 17th in the land of Blue Water, but the cricket lovers from Kutch, Gujarat are keenly awaiting the matches involving the Kenyan Cricket team in the 9th edition of the cricket's mega show -World Cup.

Two cricketers from Kutch have been selected in the Kenyan team, which face Canada on Wednesday in their first Group C tie. Kenya yet to get the ICC Test status, is all set to fire its all cylinders to prove a point that they have a side, which can beat any side on its day like they did in previous World Cup. Over the last few years, the Kenya team has expatriate Gujaratis, who represented the national cricket team on regular basis in various international series including the World Cup.

Hitesh Modi, who played in the last World Cup hails from Rajkot and had his education from the Rajkumar College in Rajkot, which has produced the top-notch Test cricketers like Kumar Ranjit Sinhji, Kumar Duleepsinhji, Ajay Jadeja among others.

Nairobi-born Ravindu Shah, who is a key batsman for Kenya, too is a Gujarati cricketer and has made solid start of the 2007 with a maiden century in the ODI against Scotland.

A good number of Patels from Kutch have settled in Nairobi and other small cities in Kenya and locally known as 'Kanabi'. Nairobi boasts Kanabi Sports Club, which dominates the cricketing culture in that country.

Rajesh Budhia and Malhar Patel, both belonging to the Patel community have found a place in the Kenyan team for this World Cup.

Rajesh Budhia, 22, was born in the Dahisara village, which has a large population of Patel Community. His family migrated to Kenya when he was just four. Budhia, also known as 'Cocu' amongst his friends has played few matches in U-17 and U-19 tournaments in Kenya, is a right hand batsman with wide range of shots. He can be useful with the ball as well. He is a military medium pacer.

Malhar Patel, 23, whose ancestors hail from Kutch, is a Kenyan by birth. Malhar like Budhia has graduated from the age grade cricket. He made debut for Kenya in the last season and featured in three ODIs albeit without success.

In fact his first one-day international match was nightmarish one. He was thrown at no.9 in the Champions Trophy match against Pakistan and was bowled by the very first ball bowled by Shahid Afridi. It was interesting that he left the crease reluctantly, claiming that he was not ready.

Malhar, who has lots of potentiality, is yet to prove his real class with the willow on big stages.

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