A blistering half-century by Rakep Patel paved the way for Kenya to make a winning start to the Africa T20 Cup after they cruised past the Free State Team by six wickets in their opening Pool C encounter at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Friday.
The captain plundered three sixes and 10 fours in his 44-ball 74 to help his side cruise to their 148-run victory target with 10 balls to spare.
Seamer Nehemiah Odhiambo also played a key role for the Kenyans after his four for 23 had initially ensured the Free Staters were restricted to 147/7 in their 20 overs.
The Africans won the toss at the start and chose to bowl first with only Diego Rosier (44) and Leus du Plooy (37) making substantial contributions.
Corne Dry struck a quick-fire 19 from nine balls late on to give the home side a fighting chance.
And their prospects were bolstered further after Andrew Rasemene (1/20), Shadley van Schalkwyk (1/23) and Dry (1/15) reduced Kenya to 33/3 inside six overs.
But skipper Patel and veteran Collins Obuya combined for a 93-run fourth-wicket stand to put their side in a powerful position.
Obuya eventually ended unbeaten on 43 off 29 to guide his side over the line for a vital win.
In the day’s other match Keegan Petersen struck an unbeaten 48 as Northern Cape made heavy weather of a low-scoring chase to edge out KwaZulu-Natal by six wickets in their Africa T20 Cup opener at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Friday.
The right-hander anchored the innings with his 44-ball knock as the hosts hunted down a 129-run victory target with five balls to spare.
Petersen shared in an unbroken 46-run partnership with captain Werner Coetsee (23) after the home side had encountered earlier trouble that left them on 83/4 at one stage.
But the fifth-wicket stand eventually settled nerves for NC and ensured they crossed the line with a few balls to spare.
It gave them a strong start to Pool C.
Skipper Coetsee also played a key role with the ball earlier, after taking two for 27 to ensure the Durbanites limped to 128/7.
Patrick Kruger was the pick of the bowlers for the Cape side, taking three for 19 after KZN had won the toss and opted to bat first.
There was one stand-out batsman for the visitors – rookie Khalipha Cele made 60 (50 balls, 6 fours).
Jason Wagner (23) was the only other batsman to cross 20.