October 14, 2001

South Africa down brave Kenyans by nine wickets

For once in this Standard Bank One-Day series Kenya were not utterly outclassed in Kimberley on Sunday. Not, however, that they weren't made to sweat under a blazing sun as South Africa completed their third victory in the tournament, this time by nine wickets, on the back of another wonderful innings from Herschelle Gibbs.

Gibbs hammered 70 off just 59 balls as South Africa hunted down Kenya's 229 for seven. It was the first time in four matches that he had really come off in the series, but it was worth the wait as he flayed the bowling, especially severe on anything anywhere near his pads.

With the start given them by Gibbs, South Africa were never seriously threatened by Kenya's highest score against them and once Lance Klusener found his range - at one point slapping Maurice Odumbe for five successive fours - wrapping up the win was a formality.

But it was a performance from the Kenyans vastly improved on Friday's meek capitulation against India when they bowled out for 90 and beaten in 11.3 overs. The Kenyans batted well in the morning, if a shade too slowly to build a really competitive score, and for once three of their batsmen made 50s.

Ravindu Shah made 55 up the order, Odumbe scored 60 and Thomas Odoyo 53. What they really needed, of course, was someone to go on to his hundred and all three contrived to get themselves out after laying solid foundations. Nevertheless, for perhaps the first time in the tournament the Kenyans seemed to realise that whatever the class of their opposition, no bowler can bowl more than one ball at a time.

It was a useful batting performance and it ensured that South Africa had something to chase. Of course, with Gibbs around almost any target is achievable if he gets going, and on Sunday he batted with the sort of savage beauty that is fast becoming his trademark.

He got out softly, chopping Brijal Patel straight to backward point, and his departure allowed Klusener to recapture the form that has eluded him for much of this year. When he is batting well, Klusener plays himself in before proceeding to hit the cover of the ball and this is what he did on Sunday. His onslaught against Odumbe might have been construed as assault and battery and his unbeaten 75 sounded an ominous warning to the Indians whom South Africa meet against on Friday.

Sandwiched between Gibbs and Klusener was Boeta Dippenaar, given a chance because Gary Kirsten has a torn muscle in his right thigh. By comparison with his partners, Dippenaar was positively sedate, but his 74 not out was his sixth one-day 50 and served as a reminder that he makes a very fine stand-in.

Kenya don't really have the attack to challenge the top teams in world cricket, but they stuck to their task admirably and after Friday's drubbing, this was a spirited performance. On Friday night Odumbe said that he was taking his sideout on the town to cheer them up. Whatever they got up to, at least they played like a team on Sunday.