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The Bulletin by Rahul Bhatia
September 15, 2004
Pakistan 95 for 3 (Hameed 41, Farhat 38*) beat Kenya 94 (Afridi 5-11, Malik 3-15) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
With a ruthless disposition towards little birds, big bad Pakistan swatted Kenya out of the Champions Trophy and sent a clear signal to India. The first hour brought a listless performance from Pakistan, but when Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik took over, the mood of the game changed considerably. Every ball was released with the intent to make the Kenyans look silly. Mission accomplished, Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat then set about making Kenya look out of place too. It was riveting violence, and the target of 95 was reached with a disdain not matched even by Australia the other day.
Pakistan went past with ease, stumbling only when Hameed, Malik and Afridi departed in quick sucession, leaving them at 81 for 3. Was there any chance of an upset? Not really. The day was Pakistan's, and after shell-shocking Kenya earlier, they weren't letting go now. Till the 20th over, when rain interrupted a dour display by the batsmen, Kenya had done well to reach the sixties with only one wicket lost. Kennedy Otieno (33) and Maurice Ouma (23) had looked uneasy, but clung on. They wafted unconvincingly, but saw off the faster bowlers, and kept wickets intact for later on. But there was no later on.
Afridi and Malik played on the batsmen's minds and their techniques, undoing them with a mixture of floaters and faster ones, and, hindered by a skiddy pitch, Kenya had no answer once Otieno and Ouma were gone. Afridi ended with 5 for 11, and Malik had 3 for 15. The batsmen played like men who haven't had enough cricket. They played for turn when it wasn't there, shouldered arms when it was, and, in the instance of Malhar Patel, left a delivery that slammed into his stumps, leaving him and several others bewildered. The delivery, from Afridi, was faster than Shaun Pollock's average speed.
If the first hour proved that Pakistan could be average, the second hour was evidence that they could be brilliant in an instant. Kenya were simply mugged.
Hameed and Farhat then showed they were fluent enough to worry India. Their clean blows left Kenya reeling, and the drives, cuts and lofts were an indication of their good form, although the running was typically hair-raising. But really, the match was effectively over once Afridi had his five-wicket haul, even if Kenya later picked up some consolation scalps.
We don't know if Kenya were outclassed, for they've certainly played better. But the frightening thing is, we don't know if Pakistan were on top of their game, because they could always get even better.
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