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The Storm Before The Calm?

October 31, 2021

...yes, you read the title right. 

When the team to face West African neighbors Sierra Leone was announced, many of us were sure that this was the team that would step out to defend Nigeria’s honor in the ICC Men’s T20WC Africa Qualifier. 

We thought that the 6-match T20I series was a chance to give the boys some match practice while racking up a few ranking points. We can pretty much check those boxes as done. After all, 5 wins out of 6, a couple of them comprehensive and a new T20I record for a Nigerian bowler feels good. It turns out, however, that neither of these things was the main talking point.

So what did we find?

Scores of 99 for 10 and 102 for 7 belied the quality of investment both in terms of time and financial resources that the NCF and the coaching staff had put into preparing the squad over the last few months. Add that to a surprise win for Sierra Leone in the series opener and you would understand the wave of panic that spread through the Nigerian support. 

Results certainly got better as the Yellow Greens won the 3rd game of the series by 69 runs but it could be said that this was up to the bowlers as the Okpe brothers and Rasheed Abolarin combined for 62 of the team’s 124 runs before teaming up with Prosper Useni and Chima Akachukwu to skittle out the opposition. 

The batters had simply not come to the party. So much so that by the 4th game, the coaching crew had begun to consider changes. Samuel Mba came into the side and straight to the top of the order. A gutsy 40* off 53 balls meant that he kept his place at the top of the order for the 5th one but with the series already won, it was time to think long term as the captain, coach, and selectors turned their thoughts to mid-November in Kigali. 

Old warhorse, Segun Olayinka was recalled for the final game and just like Mba, went to the top of the order. It was clear where our problems were. We were neither scoring quickly enough at the start of the innings nor building a platform to launch an attack later in the innings as wickets dropped regularly for single-digit scores. Our power play overs were going to waste. 

Credit to the technical crew for weathering the storm just before a major competition. They have stayed in control, kept the unit together whilst ringing changes that hopefully put the team in a better position to compete.

As part of the changes, former captain Onikoyi Ademola and Ridwan Abdul Kareem have been included in the side which will now be led by Sylvester Okpe in a move that should help us get the best out of Joshua Ayannaike.

As we head to Kigali, we wish that Nigeria reaps the benefits that come with the hunger of newly recalled players, that of a balanced and settled team and ultimately, success.


11 Likes

3 Comments

  • avatar image

    Enesi

    November 1,2021 at 05:02:30

    Wishing the boys a great tournament. Thank you The Middle stump

  • avatar image

    Omotola

    November 1,2021 at 05:46:05

    Nice, wishing the Yellow Greens a great Success. ?

  • avatar image

    Temitope

    November 1,2021 at 06:36:50

    All the best Team

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