ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Kenya v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Can Kenya challenge Pakistan?

The Preview by Sriram Veera

February 22, 2011

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Match Facts

February 23, Hambantota
Start time 14:30 local time (09:00 GMT)

Misbah-ul-Haq launches the innings' only six, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, January 22, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq symoblises Pakistan's spirit © AFP

Big Picture

It's not the exciting Umar Akmal, the marauding Shahid Afridi, the blaster Abdul Razzaq, or the volatile Shoaib Akthar who captures the essence of this Pakistan team but the back-from-the-dead Misbah-ul-Haq. He was never supposed to be here, back playing international cricket. He was plagued by form issues, was not growing any younger, and just when you thought he was history, Pakistan made him the Test captain. They said he will prove a bad investment, that he will roll up and surrender but what did he do? He kept scoring fifties, also sparkled in the ODIs against New Zealand and nearly became the ODI captain. In many ways, the Pakistan team is like him. Spot-fixing, aging stars, cocky youngsters and loss of good bowlers to controversies should have rendered them impotent, but they are the dark horse in this tournament.

Pakistan showed in New Zealand that they like to play the game the 80's way: Start steady, build during the middle overs and explode in the end. They have Misbah and Younis Khan to build, the Akmal brothers and the Afridi-Razzaq combination to finish in style but in Ahmed Shehzad they have unearthed someone who can provide them with a fiery start. The loss of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir might hurt their Test team but Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib and the canny spinners Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal have enough skill in them to keep their ODI bandwagon up and running in style.

For their part, Kenya are trying to breathe after the demolition under the hands of New Zealand. For what it's worth, it could be the best thing that happened to them. Now they would know there is no point in trying to play a safe game and meander towards defeat. They were nervous in the first game, never dared to express themselves, and sunk without a trace. Even in that performance, there was evidence that they possess a few batsmen with some flair. Collins Obuya flirted, albeit briefly, with flamboyance, Steve Tikolo will be itching to script a memorable swan song, Alex Obanda is an attacking batsman and the young Seren Waters seems to possess the skill required to belong at this level. They beat Netherlands in a friendly in Dubai and lost a close game in a warm-up encounter in this tournament. You feel they are a much better team than the outfit that turned up against New Zealand. Can they shed their big-stage nerves?

Form guide

(Most recent first for the last five completed games)

Pakistan: LWWWL
Kenya: LWLWL

Pitch and conditions

It looks a typical subcontinental batting track and a run feast is expected.

Watch out for…

Seren Waters reminded one of Kane Williamson: Compact, technically correct and in this day and age, showed an almost old-fashioned preference to get completely behind the line of deliveries. His captain rates him as the batsman who has got the skill and the inclination to bat long.

Ahmed Shehzad provides the much-needed fire at the top order. He loves to loft straight and frequently uses the fierce mow over midwicket as his go-to shot under pressure. His 115 against New Zealand in the last series also showed that he was willing to be cautious against the moving ball, under conditions which demanded that, before counter-attacking his way out of trouble. If he can continue to show such judicious shot selections, he can help Pakistan launch solid starts.

Team news

Pakistan are keen on playing both Younis and Misbah in the XI but Afridi suggested that they might not be played at No.4 and 5 to ensure the run-rate doesn't slacken. It's also learnt that Shoaib Akhtar will be given a go despite concerns over his form.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Ahmad Shahzad, 3 Kamran Akmal (wk), 4 Younis Khan, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Misbah-ul-Haq, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Abdur Razzaq, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Shoaib Akhtar

Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande got hit on the side of the head by a ball in practice and there was some swelling, but he is expected to play tomorrow.

Kenya (probable) 1 Seren Waters, 2 Alex Obanda, 3 Collins Obuya, 4 Rakep Patel, 5 Steve Tikolo, 6 Maurice Ouma (wk), 7 Jimmy Kamande (capt), 8 Thomas Odoyo, 9 James Ngoche, 10 Shem Ngoche, 11 Nehemiah Odhiambo

Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan and Kenya have faced each other five times with Pakistan winning all the encounters. Kenya have gone past 150 only once against Pakistan.

  • Afridi's has 288 sixes, the record for most sixes in one-dayers. Sanath Jayasuriya is second with 270.


    "We don't want Misbah and Younis batting together so that we can keep momentum and the scoreboard ticking."

    Shahid Afridi suggests Pakistan will be using a floating batting line-up to ensure the pace never slackens

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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