Nairobi - First, the bad news from Nairobi, immediately adding the Kenyan capital to a long list that has encompassed most of the cricketing globe over the past few years.

Preparing for the second ICC Knockout here, the West Indies were soundly trounced by India in a practice match on Sunday, by six wickets with 16.2 overs to spare and, to add injury to insult, had three of their 14 players - captain Jimmy Adams, Nixon McLean and one of the newcomers, Kerry Jeremy - unavailable with one ailment or another.

Now for the good news. After they had been reduced to 18 for four - among them Brian Lara lbw to Venkatesh Prasad without scoring - their two youngest members, Sylvester Joseph and Marlon Samuels, both on their first senior tours, joined forces to save face with a fifth wicket partnership of 129.

The circumstances demanded more care and attention than is best for the shortened form of the game and the total of 170 for six from the 50 overs was put into its puny perspective by the Indian batsmen.

But, according to manager Ricky Skerritt, Joseph, the 22-year-old Antiguan, and Samuels, the 19-year-old Jamaican, batted with a maturity and purpose that saved the West Indies from the kind of embarrassing total that has become depressingly familiar.

Joseph, whose only One-Day International was against Pakistan at Kensington Oval in April, scored 68 from 108 balls, with seven fours, before he was bowled by Prasad attempting to up the tempo in the closing overs.

Samuels, who has not yet played for Jamaica far less the West Indies, finished unbeaten 62, from 131 balls with two fours. Only lack of experience, Skerritt said, prevented him from accelerating towards the end.

Adams missed the warm-up against India with a back strain, McLean was resting a groin twinge as a precaution and Jeremy, the 20-year-old fast bowler from Antigua on his first tour, had a sore ankle after taking a blow at net practice the day before.

All were at net practice yesterday and only Adams was still unsure of his availability, even though he was reported to be much improved.

This is the second such tournament, the so-called mini World Cup, played as a straight, sudden death knockout. It is aimed at raising money for the ICC's global development programmes and to carry the game at the highest level to new outposts.

The first was staged in Bangladesh two years ago when the West Indies reached the final, losing to South Africa. Since then, the ICC has given Bangladesh and Kenya full One-Day International status so that they join the established Test teams, bringing the numbers to 11.

Marketed under the title Cricket, The Spirit of Africa, it brings the game's best players to a country where cricket is battling to establish itself among the native African population that was once effectively kept out of it.

The ICC is offering the incentive of US$1 million in prize money, more than was available in last year's World Cup in England. The winners get US$250 000, the losing finalists US$140 000 with even first round losers guaranteed US$60 000.

The ICC is also paying member boards a lump sum to cover their participation.

On the seedings based on last year's World Cup, the West Indies have been bracketed in the preliminary round with India, Sri Lanka, England, Kenya and Bangladesh. The other five teams await the winners in the quarter-finals.

The tournament gets going with the hosts, Kenya, against India today on the Gymkhana Club ground which, in size, facilities and environment, bears a striking similarity to the Antigua Recreation Ground before its more recent developments.

The West Indies start - and, given their recent overseas record of 12 defeats in 13 One-Day Internationals and the general inexperience of the team, probably end - their campaign on Tuesday against Sri Lanka.

If they advance, Pakistan would be their quarter-final opponents. Let's not get carried away and project beyond that.