The second match of the recently-concluded ODI series between leading Associate teams Afghanistan and Ireland saw the Afghans rack up 338 on the board, their highest ever ODI total. However, this was only the third-highest total by a non-Test playing team in ODI history; the record still remains with Kenya, who rode roughshod over Bangladesh nearly 20 years ago.
The Kenya Cricket Association President’s Cup was a triangular tournament played in Nairobi in October 1997, featuring Zimbabwe and Bangladesh besides the hosts. The opening match at the Gymkhana Club Ground on 10th October saw the Kenyans square off against Bangladesh, the team that had beaten them in the thrilling ICC Trophy final in Kuala Lumpur six months earlier.
This was the first official ODI to be played between the two emerging nations. Akram Khan won the toss for Bangladesh and decided to field first; little did he know that his bowlers were soon going be at the receiving end of a new world record partnership. Opening the innings for Kenya was the right-handed duo of wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno and Dipak Chudasama, a qualified dentist.
Chudasama became the first Kenyan to score an ODI hundred, going on to make 122 from just 113 balls – studded with 16 fours – and more significantly, shared in a mammoth opening stand of 225 with Otieno. This created a new record for the highest first-wicket partnership in ODIs, going past the 212 added by Australia’s Geoff Marsh and David Boon against India at Jaipur in 1986-87.
The breakthrough was finally achieved when pace bowler Hasibul Hossain caught Chudasama off his own bowling, but any hopes of respite for Bangladesh were stymied by Otieno, who rushed to a century of his own during the course of a second-wicket stand with Steve Tikolo – who had hit a fine 147 in the ICC Trophy final – that fetched 84 runs.
Kenyan wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno scored 144 to help set a strong base for his team against Bangladesh at Nairobi in 1997-98 (source – cricket.com.au)
Otieno, who was third out at 316, batted three and a half hours for his 144, which took 146 balls and consisted of 12 fours and a six. This remains the highest ODI score by a Kenyan. A final flourish from Maurice Odumbe and Thomas Odoyo swelled the total to 347/3; the previous highest by a non-Test side was Zimbabwe’s 312/4 against Sri Lanka at New Plymouth in the 1992 World Cup.
All the Bangladeshi bowlers came in for harsh treatment, none more so than off-spinner Sheikh Salahuddin, who returned 0/80 in his ten overs. Openers Athar Ali Khan and Shahriar Hossain gave Bangladesh a sound start by putting on 55, with Athar guiding the score to 100/2 before being caught and bowled by captain Aasif Karim for a well-compiled 61.
This wicket ended Bangladesh’s resistance, as the Kenyan spinners, spun a web around the rest of the batting. Karim’s left-arm spin fetched him a career-best haul of 5/33 in his ten overs, which remained the national record till 2002-03, when Collins Obuya famously picked 5/24 in a World Cup match against Sri Lanka at the same venue.
Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for only 97 to be bowled out for 197 in 43.4 overs. This 150-run margin was then Kenya’s highest in ODIs, which they bettered in 2006-07 with a 190-run drubbing of Scotland at Mombasa. Otieno was unsurprisingly adjudged as the man of the match. The tournament was eventually won by Zimbabwe, who beat Kenya 2-0 in the best-of-three finals.
At that time, the stand of 225 between Otieno and Chudasama was not only the highest for the first wicket, but also the fourth-highest for any wicket. The record was broken within a year, as Indian openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar stitched together 252 against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1998. At the current date, it lies in 17th place in the list of highest opening stands in ODIs.
Kenya’s total of 347/3 however continues to be the highest by an Associate nation in an ODI, though Scotland came close to breaking it with their total of 341/9 against Canada at Christchurch in 2013-14. As far as the highest ODI total by an Associate against a Test-playing nation is concerned, the record is Ireland’s 331/8 against Zimbabwe at Hobart in the 2015 World Cup.