Badminton update

Sports action update from the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya.

After an exciting start to the knock-out phase this morning at the Oshwal Centre, the semi-final pairings have been set for the men's and lady's singles competitions.

Eight quarter-finalists came from seven countries demonstrating that talent is spread quite evenly across different regions. The four semi-finalists came from Canada, Uganda, and UK. Just as with the men's results, the four women's semi-finalists were evenly spread and will feature talented ladies from the UK, Syria, India, and Canada.

A highlight from this morning was Salma Amlani of India's 21-12 and 25-23 thrilling quarter-final win over Sharin Naji of Canada. The appreciative crowd gave both players a rousing reception in recognition of the excellent efforts of both players.

International Volleyball update

Sports action update from the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya.

The men's volleyball quarter finals offered a doubly exhilarating experience to fans this morning as two games took place side by side at Kasarani Stadium. On one court India took on the United States and on the other Pakistan faced the United Kingdom.

The first game between USA and India was a close match, with USA trailing by a few points throughout but prevailing at the end of the round with a two point lead. In the second game, India picked up momentum as their small but relentless cheer section chanted on. Taking the lead from the outset, India won 25-14, though the US players did not give up; each team took turns at scoring until the end. In the last game of the match, the fans of both teams were buzzing as the players applied all their energy and focus. At game point the US scored two final points before India claimed victory, 25-17.

Meanwhile, the battle between the UK and Pakistan was waging on the other side of the stadium. Pakistan won the first game with their fierce spikes and cheering fan base, 25-18. In the second round, the UK slowly picked up their game making it a close match until halfway through. However, after two games the match was over. Although UK played their best to the finish, team Pakistan and their fans cheered over their final victory 25-17.

Later in the day as the spectators shuffled around, four other teams took the stage. Canada A faced UAE while Canada B were matched against Syria A. The Canadian spectators were intensely focused on both games, one on either side of the stadium. Having both Canadian teams playing at the same time served as an advantage; the cheers were twice as frequent and twice as loud.

On the UAE side, the ‘Desert Warriors' started off with a big lead. Nevertheless, Canada's first place team picked up the lead halfway through the game bringing the score to 11-10. Their momentum continued, with the score climbing up to 22-16 and they finally won 25-17. The next game was won by UAE – Canada was down several points and for most of the game and though they started catching up at the end, they came short five points from the win.

The final game was close from the start. Pumped up by their cheering section, the Canadians took command towards the middle and led UAE 17-10. Canada A went on to prvevail, 25-19.

On the other side of the stadium, the infamous Syria A team made it a tough match for the Canada B team with their meticulous passes and merciless spikes. Between games, the Syrian team would stretch and perform push-ups and sit-ups to the awe of the spectators. According to Ashiq Damani, one of the spectators and a coach for the USA red team, “The Syrian team is like a well-oiled machine. One of the players, Hassan, told me that their team drinks a special Argentinean tea to make them stronger”.

However, in both games played, Canada persevered, holding their own with great skill and power. At the end of the first game the score was 25-10. In the next round Canada picked up momentum from the crowd and actually took the lead in the beginning with the score 5-3. After tying at 8 points, Syria took over. The final for the second game was a well earned 25-17 – a fantastic game.

Cricket update

Sports action update from the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya.

UK’s batting line-up finally showed signs of form as they chased down Kenya B’s inadequate total of 79 all out by 9 wickets.

This set them up for a quarter final against India, who won the toss and chose to bat in hot and sunny conditions at Simba Union cricket ground. The Indians set off like a steam train to reach 75-1 after 10 overs but the UK recovered well in the last 10 overs to limit the score to 139-8. The Indians played the UK spinners expertly and it was the 3-pronged seam attack that caused the most problems and kept the Indians in check; the very experienced Indian coach rated the UK bowling attack as the best he has seen so far in the tournament. When it came to bat though, a lack of firepower at the top of the order meant that UK were always behind the 8-ball when fielding restrictions were lifted and despite the best efforts of the lower order to keep up with an escalating run-rate, they finished 20 runs short.

It took a bowl-out to separate UAE and Portugal after another sensational tie in their low-scoring clash at Jaffery cricket ground. Both teams were tied on 119 after 20 overs and in the tense bowl out they were tied again at 1-1 after five bowls each. This meant the game would be decided by a ‘golden bowl’ and it was UAE who held their nerve to hit the stumps with their next bowl while Portugal missed.

No doubt mentally and physically worn out after their playoff game, and having to bowl first against one of the strongest sides in the tournament, UAE lost to USA blue by 74 runs. USA Blue once again put in a very confident and tough performance to score 194 runs before restricting UAE to 120. USA Blue will now face India for the second time in the semi-final, having beaten them in the group stage.

Uganda managed to avenge yesterday’s tight defeat against Kenya A, today beating them by 10 runs to ensure that neither of the teams made it through to the quarter finals.

Just like UAE, they were fatigued having to play two games consecutively and went down to a fresh USA Red side who chased down the Uganda total of 129 with just a few wickets in hand.

Canada sealed a comfortable victory over Afghanistan in their playoff after bowling them out for 88, but for the second time could not overcome Pakistan in their quarter final. Pakistan will now face USA Red in their semi-final tomorrow.

Basketball update

Sports action update from the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya.

Friday saw the men's basketball quarterfinals take place with the final four dominated by the North American sides.

The first match saw USA Red overcome Pakistan. The crowd at the International School of Kenya was treated to a thrilling second match between USA Blue and Tajikistan, which was tied going into the final two minutes. USA Blue eventually prevailed in a nail biting finale 85-78.

The matches also featured local children from the Aga Khan Junior Academy who have been serving as athlete escorts. A wonderful synergy has emerged between the players, the crowd, and the escorts. Before their game began, the Tajikistan athletes taught their escorts Pamir cheers and fan songs.

The third match saw another clash of two more evenly matched sides. Before the match began, the Syrian team hoisted the children onto their shoulders amid loud cheers from the crowd. Canada B finally prevailed over Syria in another nail-biter that was a delicately poised thriller from start to finish. Syria led by nine points at the half but the Canadians made a spirited comeback so that, going into the final two minutes, the Canadians led by six points.

The last quarter-final saw the skilled dribblers of Canada A overcome an energetic Kenyan team. The crowd now eagerly awaits Saturday's semi-finals which pit USA Red against USA Blue and Canada A against Canada B.