February 15, 2003

Kenya defeat brave Canada by four wickets

Kenya edged past Canada to win by four wickets with nine balls to spare, despite a late wobble as the Canadians exerted pressure, took vital wickets and so nearly pulled off another upset at this World Cup. In the end, it was the Kenyans who relied on their greater experience at this level and greater depth of batting to take the points. Canada took much credit.

Ian Billcliff was the mainstay during Canada's innings with 71 as they were bowled out for 197 in 49 overs, and Thomas Odoyo was the pick of the Kenyan attack with four wickets.

Ishwar Maraj went early, dragging a full-length delivery from Odoyo back on to his stumps. Davison started well, hitting Odoyo for a glorious straight six and four to fine leg in the same over. But a double bowling change did the trick for Kenya, as first Davison, attempting to carve Peter Ongondo through the covers, saw the ball loop up for Collins Obuya to take the catch.

Obuya himself, brought on to bowl his leg-spin in the next over, struck with his second ball as Desmond Chumney edged a flighted delivery into the hands of the diving Shah at first slip. That was 48 for three, and Canada needed to start again. Harris and Billcliff struggled initially, although wicket-keeper David Obuya won't want to remember the sitter he missed off Harris, when he failed to hold a skier after having plenty of time to call for it.

The fifty partnership came up in the 33rd over, and Billcliff became the first Canadian to reach 50 in one-day internationals when he swept Obuya fine for his seventh boundary. Tony Suji, after being lifted high over long-on by Harris, took a magnificent catch running in from backward point as Harris, on 31, top-edged a sweep off Collins Obuya.

The third fifty of the innings was the fastest - off 46 balls, but Billcliff's vital innings of 71 ended when Tony Suji squeezed a yorker off his boot on to his stumps.

Thereafter it was something of a procession. Nicky de Groot was unlucky to be given out lbw to a ball that pitched outside off stump, Fazil Sattaur was bowled having a wild swipe, and Thuraisingam, after another meaty blow into the crowd behind long-on, was safely held behind the stumps off Odoyo. Ashish Bagai was also caught behind cutting in the same over. Austin Codrington and Joseph played sensibly before, with just one over remaining, Codrington was bowled by Odoyo hitting across the line.

Canada's bowlers suffered a double misfortune at the outset of the Kenyan innings, as the burly Thuraisingam looked to have taken a return catch from Kennedy Otieno, only to have his appeal turned down. Shah was then dropped behind the stumps down the leg side by Joseph Harris off Davis Joseph. But there was justice for Thuraisingam when he found extra lift outside off stump, inducing Otieno to play on.

Tikolo showed his class almost immediately, with a sumptuous cut to the third man boundary off the same bowler, and Kenya kept steadily with the asking rate at around four an over. Joseph, offering Tikolo room on his pads, was flicked deftly though mid-wicket. The 15th over from Thuraisingam went for 15 runs, with Shah unfurling a delightful cover drive to the rope.

When the 50 partnership came up (off 61 balls) the two sides were pretty much neck and neck, although with just one wicket down Kenya looked marginal favourites. The balance tilted further towards them in the 16th over, as Shah extended his repertoire with back-to-back boundaries through square leg and backward point.

John Davison bowled a timely maiden in the 19th, but the 20th cost another ten as Kenya regained their momentum. With Harris maintaining attacking fields in search of a wicket, the two batsmen continued to find the gaps. But the economical Davison made a vital breakthrough in the 23rd, trapping the Kenyan captain lbw for 42 at the start of a wicket maiden.

Kenya's hundred came up alongside Shah's 50 (70 balls, seven fours) in the 24th over, but the Kenyans had to overcome the problem of losing their main run-scorers Shah and Tikolo in the space of eight overs while only 17 runs were added in the middle of their innings. That gave the Canadians a glimpse of success, but they failed to take it despite causing a flutter of excitement as two more wickets fell as Kenya closed in on the target.

Shah is making a habit of getting into the sixties in this World Cup. However, he fell for 61 this time when he was caught by Maraj off the bowling of Thuraisingam. That made it 116 for three in the 31st over, but there followed a bizarre partnership between Hitesh Modi and Maurice Odumbe.

They put on 32 in six overs, but while Odumbe scored 26 from 19 balls, Modi managed only six from 48. He should have gone when a ball from the immaculate John Davison returned to the attack and saw a ball clip the pad on the way to the bat and then up to the wicket-keeper. Modi was given not out. Next ball he should have been stumped, but Bagai fumbled.

In his next over, however, Davison claimed the wicket of Odumbe, lbw sweeping, and when he then had Modi caught at slip the wobbles were on. Davison was superb, taking three for 15 in ten immaculate overs of off-spin.

Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo settled things down. Ongondo was dropped in the deep by Austin Codrington, who then bowled him but by then it was too late for the brave Canadians.