Kenya v India A, Nairobi August 18, 2007

Easy win sees India through to final

Cricinfo staff

India A 280 for 7 (Pujara 67, Kumar 64, Kaif 51) beat Kenya 200 (Obanda 46, Mahesh 3-28, Ojha 3-30) by 80 runs



Praveen Kumar's all-round heroics fetched him the Man-of-the-Match award © AFP

A good team effort saw India A coast to an 80-run victory over Kenya, and book their place in the final of this tri-series, in a rain-curtailed one-dayer in Nairobi. Cheteshwar Pujara top scored with 67 and Praveen Kumar and captain Mohammad Kaif helped themselves to half-centuries as India A posted an imposing 280 in 46 overs.

Kenya's chase was undermined by their inability to stitch together partnerships: the largest was 48 for the sixth wicket. Seven out of the top eight Kenyan batsmen got into double digits but, with only two moving beyond 30, the target always looked out of sight.

Kumar, who'd blitzed an unbeaten 27-ball 57 in the previous game against Kenya, seemed to have picked up the thread from there, slamming the second delivery he faced back over the bowler's head and into the sightscreen. The early loss of Parthiv Patel did not deter him as he hit 29 off Elijah Otieno's first two overs to see India launch their innings at nearly eight an over.

With India at 106 for 1 in 16 overs, the stage was set for a mammoth total but Kenya struck two quick blows - Kumar was run out and Yusuf Pathan fell to medium-pacer Nehemiah Odhiambo. The brakes were put on and the next seven overs produced 18 runs. Kaif was dismissed for a sedate 51 after he missed a delivery from Lameck Onyango to be trapped in front.

A 54-run partnership between Pujara and Subramaniam Badrinath restored the momentum and saw India reach 190 with eight overs remaining, before Badrinath was caught by Alex Obanda off Jimmy Kamande. With India looking for quick runs, Pujara stepped on the accelerator and his last 37 came off 22 balls. Irfan Pathan provided the late fireworks as he hit four sixes and two fours on his way to a 24-ball 48.

Medium-pacer Onyango was Kenya's most impressive bowler as he sent down four maidens to keep the Indian total in check; he did not, however, get much support from the rest of the attack.

Kenya's chase began swiftly but was hampered by the loss of Maurice Ouma and David Obuya inside eight overs. Then followed the one period of the match when the Indians were under pressure, when Odhiambo and Tanmay Mishra raised 41 in 32 balls to lift Kenya to 73 in the 13th over. Odhiambo's dismissal, following a mistimed pull to substitute Rajesh Pawar at point off Kumar's bowling, saw a mini-collapse; two more wickets fell to leave Kenya tottering at 94 for 5 in the 18th over. Thomas Odoyo and Obanda put up some resistance but they were merely delaying the inevitable and Kenya soon folded for 200.

Just as with their batting in the morning, India's bowlers performed as a group with no single standout performance. Pankaj Singh removed both openers, Kumar struck two critical blows when Kenya looked threatening, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha picked up three wickets and Yo Mahesh cleaned up the tail.

If Sri Lanka A win their match against the Indians on Sunday and secure a bonus point as well, Kenya will be knocked out of the tournament. Kenya takes on the Sri Lankans in the final league match on Monday.

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