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October 3, 2000
For India it was precisely the start they wanted; for Kenya there was little disgrace in defeat by eight wickets.
Between them, the Kenyan Cricket Association and the ICC put up a good show in most respects. The Nairobi Gymkhana Ground looked a picture with a good and enthusiastic crown scattered around a collection of new stands. The pitch played well, the players entertained and the weather behaved itself.
But for the sizeable media contingent who turned up for the opening match of the ICC KnockOut 2000, the facilities were far from ideal. Kenya hope to stage their games during the 2003 World Cup at home. If the present state of affairs persists, this dream cannot even be countenanced.
Still, the rest of it was good value. Kenya didn't really give themselves a chance by making only 208 for nine in their 50 overs, the major share of which came by way of an 81-run stand for the fourth wicket between Ravindu Shah and skipper Maurice Odumbe.
Shah, compact and composed, looked a fine player during his 60 while Odumbe also bagged a half-century with 51 off 87 balls. But apart from Thomas Odoyo's unbeaten 35, there was little support. Kenya desperately needed a substantial contribution from their best batsman, Steve Tikolo, but he made just 5. The three Indian seamers, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Venkatesh Prasad shared seven of the wickets with Anil Kumble taking two for 22 in his 10.
India started cautiously, and Kenya had their best moment of the day when Sachin Tendulkar was adjudged leg before for 35 by Dave Orchard. But the home side had to bowl their most likely wicket-taker, Martin Suji, out - his 10 overs costing just 30 - and Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid seldom looked like getting themselves out.
They added 88 for the second wicket before Ganguly rushed down the wicket to Odumbe only to be beaten by the turn and stumped, but Vinod Kambli, so often a wayward genius, came in and set about getting things over with quickly.
Kamblie crashed seven boundaries in his 32-ball 39 and if Dravid was more leisurely in making his 68 not out, he was no less able to find the gaps as India picked up the pace.
In the end the Indians got home with six-and-a-half overs to spare in what was a useful, if not unduly taxing, day at the office. Australia will no doubt provide a somewhat sterner test when the two teams meet in the first of the quarter-finals on Saturday.
By then the ICC and the KCA might have found a way to make reporting on the match something less of a test for man and machine.
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