Tennis update

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

The three tennis doubles finals took place this afternoon at the Parkland's Sports Club. With Canada providing both finalists in each match, the finals were a tense affair between the players and the crowd, many of whom had family allegiances to both finalists!

In the women's doubles Zahra Ahamed and Samira Lakhani played two great sets against Mubina Alidina and Nasreen Maherali before claiming the championship. The score in the first set was 6-3. The second set was rather heated; there was a tie at six games each but Samira and Zahra pulled through to win.

In the mixed doubles, Zahra and Samira faced each other. Nadeem Kassam joined Zahra and Ali Javer partnered up with Samira. In the first set, Samira and Ali won the first few games but ended up being defeated by Zahra and Nadeem 6-3. In the second set, Zahra and Nadeem kept the lead from the outset. From 2-1, they pushed through with a final score of 6-3 and 6-1.

The last but most awaited match was the men's doubles final. Two teams of brothers faced off for this final match. It was Nadeem and Najeed Kassam against Adil and Irfan Shamasdin. The Shamasdin brothers won a straight sets victory although the Kassam brothers held out for several deuces in the second set. The final score was 6-2 and 6-1.

Cricket update

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

USA Blue comfortably made their way into the final with a seven-wicket victory over India, reaching their target of 127 in 17 overs with India dropping five catches in the field. The other finalist was Pakistan after they beat Canada by four wickets, Canada making a better fist of things after their 9-wicket drubbing two days previously.

The final was played at the Nairobi Gymkhana under sunny blue skies and a decent crowd turned out to sunbathe, lie on the grass and listen to an African band play and dance – there was also a wonderful game of cricket going on.

Having won the toss, Pakistan chose to field, clearly backing their ability to chase, and although USA were scoring heavily, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals; no better was this aggressive attitude shown than in the ninth over in which USA scored 20 runs but also lost a wicket trying to slog. After 10 overs USA were 93-5, made up by a series of cameos from the top order and it took magnificent 49 off 25 balls from the USA wicketkeeper-batsman to bring their score up to 173-8 after 20 overs. His innings was not chancy slogging from the off, but rather he played himself in before taking the attack to the bowlers and struck some meaty blows all around the ground.

Never having had to chase this much, Pakistan proved their class by absolutely cruising to victory. Requiring more than 8-and-a-half runs per over, Pakistan motored to 99-0 after 10 overs and the score was 117 before the first breakthrough was made. Pakistan eventually made it in the 18th over, and for the second time in the tournament, finished with a six. The openers each got fifties and although both teams rotated the strike excellently, it was the Pakistanis who showed outstanding shot selection and execution, mixing both classical strokes with improvised paddle sweeps and reverse sweeps. All in all, while not a close contest it was a batting master class from the Pakistanis and a splendid showcase of what cricket is all about.

Squash update

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

It’s an all-Canadian finals for men’s squash with Rafik Bhaloo and Asim Nanji proceeding to the match at 4:30 pm this afternoon. Both men, the youngest players in the tournament, beat the Kenyans Sameer Jiwa and Rahim Virani to make it to the finals. The audience of over 100 in the gallery at the Parklands Sports Club was the liveliest it has been all week.

Conversely, in the women’s squash, the Kenyans Yaseena Khalfan and Safina Madhani prevailed in the semi-finals to overcome Canadians Salma Mitha and Shahira Patni Tejpar. One of the Canadians noted, “Hard work and determination pays off. The Kenyans have trained hard for the last three months and deserve this result.” The women’s finals will be played at 3:30pm.

The audience, organisers and participants appreciated the high calibre of squash being played and the warmth and camaraderie among the players. This was exemplified when 15 players from the men’s teams from various countries spilled onto the court after the semi-finals to play a game of “lives” and bond across the geographic divides.

Football update

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

The first football semi-final saw second-ranked Syria play sixth-ranked Portugal in a thrilling seven-goal encounter at Moi International Stadium. Spectators in the stadium were treated to a football festival in what must surely have been the match of the tournament so far. Both teams have steadily improved as the competition has progressed.

After a tense and tactical first half, Syria led 1-0 against the run of play with Portugal having dominated possession but Syria always looking more dangerous on the break. The second half saw the game explode into life with a flurry of goals.

First Syria conceded a penalty for a foul in the penalty area and Portugal's number 9 Sameer Esmail decisively levelled the score at 1-1. Two minutes after the restart, Syria scored on a breakaway to stun the Portuguese defence and lead 2-1.

With the spectre of elimination hanging over his team, Portugal's Esmail then scored two brilliant goals within three minutes to complete his hat-trick and put Portugal into a 3-2 lead. The first came from a great cross from the right hand side which was met with a crisp finish and the second an outstanding strike from 30 yards.

To add to the drama, the Syrians then scored a goal direct from a free kick which was disallowed since the free kick was indirect. Syria kept up the pressure, however, and showed tremendous fighting spirit. With five minutes to go, the Portuguese keeper made a tremendous reflex save from about five yards out which seemingly preserved the Portuguese lead. It was not to be, however, when from the resulting corner, Syria equalised to make it 3-3 when their number 15 notched up his second goal of the game after an excellent cross from the right wing.

Amazingly, with three minutes to go, Portugal's Esmail then scored the decisive seventh goal of the match to put Portugal into an insurmountable 4-3 lead. Remarkably, this goal also marked Esmail's seventh goal of the tournament thus far.

At the end of the match, the Portuguese players cheered for their Syrian counterparts in recognition of an astonishing fixture with both teams aware that had the match continued, goals would likely have continued to flow from both sides. Portugal have become the first team to book their place in tonight's final at Moi International Stadium.

Canada and Tanzania squared off in the second semi-final for the right to play Portugal.

Canada started well and had a two goal lead within the first five minutes capitalising on some defensive hesitation in the Tanzanian defence. Canada's speedy striker Farouk Karim caused all kinds of anxiety in the heart of the Tanzanian defence, including scoring the first goal and setting up the second, before he went off with a knee injury after 10 minutes. A third goal followed for Canada before the half-time suggesting that perhaps Tanzania's attack-minded 4-3-3 formation might be a little too cavalier for Canada's more sturdy 4-1-4-1 formation.

The Tanzanian's drums continued to beat during half-time trying to lift their side. Unfortunately for them, the second half saw more of the same and the Canadians took the match by a comfortable 6-0 margin and given that their goals for-against tally reads 16-0 from their four games thus far will surely start as favourites against Portugal in tonight's final.