A great day for cricket in Kenya as the African nation, for the first time in its cricketing history, qualified for the Super Six stage of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup after a 32-run win over Bangladesh at the Wanderers.
Having won the toss and batted under pressure for most of their innings, Kenya totaled 217 at the end of their 50 overs. Had it not been for excellent 52 not out off 46 balls by Maurice Odumbe, and 22 off 21 balls from Collins Obuya, Kenya might not be celebrating their progress in the competition tonight.
The early loss of Kennedy Otieno, to the third ball of the innings, and disciplined bowling by Bangladesh made runs difficult to come by. Ravindu Shah and Brijal Patel struggled through a 50-run partnership that came up off 90 balls with Patel scoring 24 and Shah 18.
Trying to up the run-rate Patel, the more aggressive of the two, was caught at deep backward square leg. Three overs later Shah was deceived by Mohammad Rafique, spooning a catch to extra cover.
The loss of both settled batsmen intensified the task for Kenya, putting further pressure on the incoming batsmen. At 25 overs the they only had 94 on the board. Steve Tikolo and Hitesh Modi were also tied up, with the 100 only coming up in the 29th over.
The loss of Tikolo for 27 and Modi for 12 left Kenya on 124/5 after 35 overs, and in danger of being bowled out cheaply.
But in came Odumbe to take the game back from Bangladesh with 52 excellent runs from 46 balls that included four fours. Where Kenya had not managed 3.5 runs per over, he scored at better than a run a ball.
Odumbe found a willing partner in Obuya, who helped himself to 22 runs in 21 balls for Kenya to end on 217 for seven. The Bangladeshi bowlers had produced their best form of the tournament with the ball. They stuck to their task and should be well pleased with the performance.
Sanwar Hossain, with the wickets of Tikolo, Modi and Odoyo, conceded 39 runs in his 10 overs, while Khaled Mahmud ended with 1/39 in his.
Al Sahariar started the Bangladesh innings as if he had an early flight home. Two boundaries in the first over off Martin Suji and a pulled six in the third made his intentions clear. But an edge to the wicket-keeper ended his innings on 14, and Bangladesh were 16/1.
Mohammad Ashraful lasted only nine balls before Tushar Imran and Khaled Mashud took Bangladesh past the 50, coming up in 16 overs and included four fours and two sixes, the second when Imran dispatched Ongondo for maximum. Mashud, batting up the order, had scored 14 patient runs (41 balls) when he edged to slip.
As Kenya had done, Bangladesh laboured to the 100 in 27 overs after Odumbe had broken a 46-run partnership between Imran and Alok Kapali. The off-spinner had Kapali chopping to point for 18 off 26 balls which included one four and a six.
When Imran was caught for 48 off 81 balls and Bangladesh 111/5, there was still hope for Bangladesh, who still had 21 overs left. But that faded when the threatening partnership between Akram Khan and Sanwar Hossain was broken, as Hossain lofted to long-off and Bangladesh were six down for 151.
Khaled Mahmud lasted nine balls before he was stumped. On 180 Bangladesh lost two further quick wickets, both to Tikolo with Mohammad Rafique being caught on the sweep for five and Khan, running out of partners, caught for 44.
It was all over in the 48th over when Islam was also stumped off the bowling of Tikolo and Bangladesh had been bowled out for 185. The victory celebrations started before the bails had hit the ground. It was a momentous occasion in the lives of the Kenyan players.
Odumbe had followed up his batting heroics with 4/38 in 10 overs, Tikolo wrapped up the tail with 3/14 after Martin Suji had done the early damage.