Canada v Kenya, Group C, St Kitts March 13, 2007

A chance for the minnows to shine



Infighting over, Kenya have got their house in order © Cricinfo Ltd

On paper, the opening game in Group C is little more than a battle for bragging rights between two of the tournament's minnows. Neither Kenya or Canada are expected to progress to the Super Eights, but such is the format of the competition that the winner will only need to beat one of the group's two big boys - England and New Zealand - to reach the second stage. And anyone who watched most of England's generally poor one-day performances in Australia will have no doubts that they are there for the taking.

Kenya upset the odds to reach the 2003 semi-finals, albeit thanks to New Zealand boycotting their match in Nairobi and a skewed points system, and they harbour ambitions of reaching the second round this time. The four years since the 2003 success have been marked by bitter infighting and virtual cricketing anarchy, but they have got their house in order just in time, and arrived in the Caribbean on the back of victory in the ICC's World Cricket League.

That success featured a resounding win over the Canadians, but this game will be much closer as Canada showed signs of finding form of their own in the tournament. Both teams lean heavily on experienced players with a few promising youngsters thrown into the mix. Over a longer series of games, Kenya would probably come out on top, as they did in a tri-series in Mombasa in January, but this is a one-off and it really is too close to call.

Perhaps the most surprising name on the team list will be former West Indies bowler Anderson Cummins, now 40 years old but surprisingly called into the Canadian squad for the Kenyan tour and retained despite some distinctly averages performances. He stands to become only the second player - the first was Kepler Wessels of Australia and then South Africa - to appear for two different countries in the World Cup.

While Kenya boast a home-grown side, Canada lean heavily on expats who have qualified for the country under ICC regulations rather than learned their game there. It remains a source of unease among many, but rules are rules and Canada cannot be blamed for making the most of them.

Both sides have strong batting line-ups, although Kenya continue to struggle to find a productive opening partnership while Maurice Ouma has failed to establish himself as an international opener despite ample chances to do so. Kenya probably have the better bowling side, and Peter Ongondo is one of the best new-ball bowlers among the Associates.

The St Lucia pitch is reported as being hard and even-paced, while there is the chance of some showers during the latter part of the day.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo