Nairobi - India, after a very difficult start, recovered well to defeat Kenya by 58 runs in match four of the LG Cup in Kenya.
Sent in to bat India initially struggled to score, but managed to recover to 220/7 after some good batting by Vijay Bhardwaj. Kenya, after losing three early wickets, was always up against it and a disciplined bowling performance from the Indians did not make matters any easier.
With India on a high after their recent victories Kenya had to play really well to repeat the only victory, in India, that they hold against them. Starting off well enough, in overcast conditions, by winning the toss, Kenya elected to field and not bat first against the Indian bowlers who have bowled with a lot of discipline having not conceded any wides or no-balls in the tournament so far.
Sadagoppan Ramesh and Sourav Ganguly opened the batting for an unchanged Indian team facing up to Martin Suji and Thomas Odoyo from Kenya. Both bowlers started well beating the bat with away movement off the pitch. Ramesh twice played and missed, while Ganguly nearly inside edged onto the stumps and then had a thick edge land just short of the backward point.
The Kenyan bowlers, ably assisted by some good ground fielding on a bumpy outfield made the early running. Restricting India to six runs after 5 overs and 17 runs after 10 overs placed the pressure on the batsman. This pressure should have seen first Ganguly and then Ramesh, run-out with both batsmen short of their ground and at mercy of the throw at the stumps.
Ganguly had a little flutter with bat but his aggression got the better of him as he again tried to hoist Martin Suji over the long on fence only to be caught by Odoyo who made some ground to get under the ball and take a very good catch. Ganguly left with 21 off 38 balls including two fours and a straight six. India, in the 13 th over, had lost their first wicket at 35.
With two of the slower Indian batsmen at the crease the run drought continued. At a stage of the game where singles should have been looked for, the inspired diving Kenyans seemed to be stopping everything close to them.
Rahul Dravid and Ramesh slowly started the rebuilding process, first by Dravid spreading the field, and then some good placement of the ball for one 's and two's to be taken. The introduction of spin in the 25 th over seemed to be the turning point for India. Mohammad Sheikh helping the Indian cause with 17 runs off three overs.
Ramesh, who had taken 30 balls to get off the mark, showed that his best shot for the day was the cut, went to his sixth one-day international 50 in the 34 th over from 116 balls which included four boundaries. After working so hard he then gave his wicket away, charging down the wicket to Maurice Odumbe, missing, and was easily stumped by Kennedy Otieno. Nelson had once again struck to leave India on 111/2 off 34 overs.
Dravid was next to go, at 116, chipping a shot from Odumbe to Alpesh Vadher on the long on boundary. The fielder took a great jumping one-handed catch above his head. If Dravid had only played a fuller shot he would have easily cleared the fence but left the field with 30 from 56 balls including two fours.
Nikhil Chopra, sent in as a pinch hitter, was dropped by keeper Otieno off Steven Tikolo before smashing Odumbe through the covers from the back foot and then slogging to deep mid-wicket. Odoyo made a great effort to take the catch only to palm the ball over the boundary for four. Tikolo turned the tables by taking a return catch to send Chopra back for 13 from 12 balls including two fours. India now 134/4 and in the 39 th over were in danger of not getting close to 200.
Captain Ajay Jadeja on 10 and in the 42 nd over counted himself very lucky. Charging down the pitch to Odumbe he missed and somehow keeper Otieno, having a shocker behind the stumps, dropped the ball with Dravid standing two meters out. An expensive drop as this seemed to erupt the dormant Indian innings.
Vijay Bhardwaj, in only his second one-day international, had joined his captain and showed his class at the end of the innings using his feet and playing the ball at will, cutting and driving to all areas of the field.
Jadeja, backing up too far, was run-out in the 46 th over when Odoyo returned the ball from backward point for the replay to show Jadeja just short of the line. Jadeja run-out for 31 off 32 balls including two sixes. The two players had put on 55 runs in seven overs taking India to 189/5.
Robin Singh (3) and Sunil Joshi (6) did not last long, but with Bhardwaj had seen the score past the 200 in the 49 th over. It was left to Mannava Prassad (4) to see India to 220/7 at the end of the 50 overs. Bhardwaj, finished his second international on 41 not out off 30 deliveries including three fours and one six, with the best Kenyan bowler being Odumbe with 3/51
Needing 221 to win Kenya had to make a solid start to give them any chance on a difficult slow pitch. Opening for Kenya was Kennedy Otieno and Ravindu Shah and for India Venkatesh Prasad and Debashish Mohanty.
The start that Kenya wanted just did not materialise. First Otieno's nightmare behind the wickets continued in front of the them, as he left the scene after touching Prasad's first ball to keeper Mannava Prasad. Then Steve Tikolo who started in a rush with two fours off Prasad's first over, lost his wicket with a simple catch to Chopra at mid-wicket off Mohanty's first over.
At the end of the sixth over Odumbe edged a ball from Mohanty into his box and after rolling around in a lot of pain continued his innings. With his foot work not what it should be, after the blow amidships, he managed to edge Prasad to the keeper and with a shake of the head, headed for the comfort of the change-rooms. Kenya had slumped to 21/3.
Alpesh Vadher was next in and witnessed the first wide by the Indian bowlers in this tournament when Mohanty pushed one down the leg side.
Shah showed some class in Prasad's fifth over when playing a square drive for four and then flicking the next ball through mid wicket for a four bringing 10 runs off the over. The next over saw bowler Mohanty shaking his head as Shah inside edged a ball to the fine leg boundary, but followed this up to have Shah sparring and scooping a catch to Joshi at gully and then showing the batsman which direction to walk to. Shah was gone for 26 and Kenya 42/4.
Vader and Hitesh Modi showed some resistance, without any effort to advance the score, but it was the Indian bowlers taking over complete control of the match.
In trying to sweep Chopra, Modi moved his back foot just out of the crease and keeper Prasad after initially dropping the ball, flicked the bails off to have the TV replay giving him out stumped for 10 off 34 balls and Kenya struggling at 66/5 at the end of the 23 rd over.
Bhardwaj was brought on for Joshi in the 30 th over and after being struck for a neat flick four past mid-wicket by Vadher, he induced the batsman into a false front foot shot to take a return catch and send Vadher packing for 18 off 64 balls and Kenya now at 76/6.
With Thomas Odoyo and Anthony Suji holding the world one-day international seventh wicket record partnership of 119, set against Zimbabwe in the same competition two years back, a repeat performance was now more than ever needed to rescue their team.
With runs coming very slowly it appeared as if Kenya was playing out the 50 overs. Suji decided to change the script or got a rush of blood and lashed out at Bhardwaj smashing a cover drive through the cover area for four and helping Kenya to seven runs off the 36 th over.
Odoyo brought up the hundred with a cracking six over long off for Joshi to finish his 10 over spell with 24/0. The Odoyo six seemed to spark both batsmen into life. Odoyo sent Bhardwaj to the point boundary, while Suji slashed Singh to the third-man fence, then drove one past mid-wicket and lastly smashed a murderous drive back past the bowler to take 15 runs off the 43 rd over.
After a partnership of 57 and with the score on 133, Odoyo rode his luck just a bit to far to be caught for 33 at wide long on by Prasad off the bowling of Bhardwaj. He was followed to the pavilion in the same over by Suji caught behind for 27.
Mohammad Sheikh became Prasad's third victim when he had him caught behind for one. This catch gave keeper Prasad five dismissals which equals the one-day international record.
Josephat Ababu and Suji saw Kenya past the 150 mark in the 47 th over and managed to hold out to the last ball of the match when Chopra bowled Ababu for 11 and Suji ending on the same score. Kenya had been bowled out for 162, losing the match by 58 runs.
Apart from the five dismissals from wicket keeper MSK Prasad, his namesake BKV Prasad picked up 3 for 26 and Bhardwaj 3 for 38.