Led by the allround efforts of their captain, Steve Tikolo, Kenya produced a display of controlled efficiency to dispatch Canada by seven wickets at St Lucia and in the process sent out warning signs to England and New Zealand that they shouldn't expect things all their own way in Group C. Tikolo and Maurice Ouma produced the match-winning batting performances, but the result had been set up by an impressive showing from Kenya's spinners.
The manner of the victory - intelligent bowling, sharp fielding and calm batting - would have pleased most sides in the tournament. Tikolo, the captain with four World Cups of experience, enjoyed a fine day as his clean strokeplay closed down the run chase, but it had been early in the match that he'd really earned his crust. He quickly reassessed the pitch, introducing his spinners inside the second Powerplay, and they chocked the Canada innings. The 29 overs from Jimmy Kamande, Hiren Varaiya and Tikolo cost just 78 runs and brought five wickets.
It left a target of 200 and Kenya were aware that they just needed to bat sensibly. Anderson Cummins found some bounce with the new ball but when Canada needed their bowlers to be right on the mark they sprayed the ball down both sides of the pitch. Cummins managed to remove David Obuya with one that moved away although Ouma was quickly into his stride.
Umar Bhatti, whose first three overs cost 21, returned with success when he trapped Ravi Shah leg-before with a delivery that shaped back into the right hander. But the required rate never spiralled too high. With the success of Kenya's spinners fresh in his mind John Davison, Canada's captain, brought his slow men into the action. The difference this time was that Kenya knew what they needed and didn't have to chase the game. Ouma worked the ball around with nimble footwork - reaching his second ODI fifty - while Tikolo used all his experience.
Ouma lost his focus after completing the half-century and located mid-off with an ugly heave, but Canada didn't have the firepower to claim further breakthroughs. Tanmay Mishra started skittishly, but a few quiet words from Tikolo calmed him down and the target came into view as Tikolo eased to his 19th ODI half-century off 56 balls. He is widely regarded as the best batsman not playing Test cricket and this was further proof.
Tikolo doesn't show too much outward emotion, even in victory, but earlier they'd been the distinct appearance of a frown as Canada - through Geoff Barnett's crisp 41 - moved to a comfortable 76 for 2 after 15 overs. The new-ball attack had been a mixed bag and Tikolo was quick to switch to plan B. Much of the pre-tournament talk had been about the role of spinners and the success of Kenya's trio - albeit against the less-than-dynamic Canadians - suggests they will play a key role.
Varaiya began the strangle with two maidens in his first five overs - then overs 20 to 25 brought just 11 runs - and shortly after the half-way mark removed the talented Ashish Bagai although Ouma needed to chances to complete the stumping.
Batting Davison in the middle order may require a re-think from the Canadians if they want to make the most of his hitting power. Here, he was far cry from the player who lit up the 2003 tournament with his record century against West Indies, struggling without pace on the ball. The innings really came off the rails when he and Ali fell in almost identical fashion to Kamande, playing round slow straight deliveries which clattered into the stumps.
Canada's last main hope for a total over 200 lay with their second Kiwi, captain Ian Billcliff, but he struggled to find momentum during his 63-ball innings. The end was rather limp as he tried to work Tikolo through the on side, but only sent a leading edge back to the bowler. Sunil Dhaniram did his best to marshal the tail, but three run-outs of varying suicidalness ended the innings at least 40 short of par.
Kenya have a taste for progressing at World Cups after their semi-final appearance four years ago, but that was given a helping hand by New Zealand's forfeiture. This time they'll have to do it for themselves and on this showing they won't go down without a fight.