Little-known Rene Were is among the final Team Kenya squad unveiled yesterday for the 2018 ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January and February next year.
The U-19 World Cup, which is held every two years, will see 16 teams battle for the title. Kenya are in Group ‘A’ alongside hosts New Zealand, defending champions West Indies and South Africa.
Were, who resides in Namibia, headlines the 15-man squad that will be led by Kanbis’ star Sachin Bhudia. The left-handed batsman impressed selectors during his two-week training in Nairobi last month thus earning his place in the team that is expected to leave the country on December 28. “I had no idea about him but when he came up for training, he was impressive and he gave the selectors something to think about and at the end of it all, won their trust,” coach Jimmy Kamande said.
Were, Sidhart Vasudev and Jay Doshi are the new inclusion in the team that shockingly beat Uganda in July to qualify for the World Cup. They replace Peponi School captain Rahul Seedhar and spinner Yaksh Patel. Seedhar didn’t make himself available for selection while Patel failed to secure release from his school in the USA.
Kamande said the Wanderers Cricket Club player will give him depth in batting department now that Seedhar is unavailable.
“We need to have depth in batting if we are to be competitive. We believe Were will come through now that we will miss Seedhar. Other exciting selections include opening batsman and Soya nominee, Aman Gandhi. Gandhi was placed 35th in the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) batting this season and was the fourth top batsman at Sir Ali Muslim Club with 237 runs from 11 innings.
Gandhi has been selected alongside another SOYA nominee, Abhishek Chidambaran. Chidambaran’s 22 wickets were instrumental as Stray Lions retained the league two weeks ago. Kamande is confident that the selectors have made the right choices and is excited by the collective experience of the team. “It’s definitely one of the most exciting times in these kids’ lives and careers. They deserve this honour. This are the fruits of their hard work for the last six months,” he said.
“I’m very excited as a coach to take this group to New Zealand. They are massively talented with the potential for even greater things. I’m confident we have picked a combination that will give us the desired results.”
The top two sides from each group will advance to the Super League while the remaining eight teams will feature in the Plate Championship. Squad: Aman Gandhi, Dennis Musyoka, Aveet Desai, Rene Were, Thomas Ochieng, Sachin Bhudia, Ankit Hirani, Sukhdeep Singh, Jasraj Kundi, Jayant Mepani, Jay Doshi, Maxwel Ager, Gérard Mwendwa, Sidhart Vasudev, Abhishekh Chidambaran; Reserves: Minal Kerai, Viraj Patel.