Australia Win, But Kenya Show Heart

World Cup Cricket News 16/03/03

Report By Jon Cocks

The Final Super Six match of the 2003 World Cup was possibly the match that meant the least in the tournament, given that both Australia and Kenya had qualified for the semi-finals. Australia was regarded as a shoo-in to bulldoze the likeable Africans, who were missing Maurice Odumbe, lost Kennedy Obuya to injury and whose captain Steve Tikolo struggled with a virus while batting and could not lead the side in the field.

In the end the Cup favourites were made to work harder than expected, unable to dismiss Kenya inside fifty overs. 39-year-old Man-of-the-Match Asif Karim (8.2-6-7-3) - who came out of retirement to play in the tournament – got hearts fluttering in the Australian dressing room by removing Ponting, Lehmann and Hogg in short order to reduce Australia from the impregnability of 2-109 to a tremulous 5-117.

After Brett Lee grabbed the second hat-trick of the tournament in his second over to reduce Kenya to 3-3, the not unreasonable assumption was that the Kenyan innings might be wrapped up pretty quickly and the ground authorities at Durban’s Kingsmead Oval would not be required to switch on the lights. Ultimately, however, the Africans managed to bat through the fifty overs for a respectable – if not overwhelming – 8-174.

Ricky Ponting won the toss and sent Kenya in to bat on a pitch with consistent pace and bounce, encouraging both pacemen and spinners, while allowing batsmen confidence in their strokeplay. After the early clatter of wickets, the Kenyan captain Steve Tikolo (51) featured in two substantial partnerships – 79 from 22 overs for the fourth wicket with Ravindu Shah (46) and 49 for the wicket with Hitesh Modi (39*) for the fifth.

McGrath (10-1-32-0) and Lee (8-1-14-3) both swung the new ball away from the right handers, beginning with a maiden each, before Lee beat Kennedy Obuya for pace, struck him a painful blow on the elbow and shattered his stumps on the rebound. His next delivery was too good for Brijal Patel, finding the edge for Ponting to snap him up at second slip and he completed the hat-trick, yorking David Obuya.

Andy Bichel (9-0-42-2) replaced Lee after four overs and Shah demonstrated a flair for off side strokeplay, square driving and cutting him to the boundary off successive balls. Tikolo and Shah showed up some of the more fancied batsmen in this tournament to defy the Australian attack. Ian Harvey (7-0-23-0) was steady, while Brad Hogg (10-1-31-1) found a top edge from Shah for substitute fielder Nathan Hauritz to take the catch at mid on.

Darren Lehmann (6-0-22-2) took the ball in tandem with Hogg to help Australia to hurry through some overs, only for Gilchrist to miss gloving the ball cleanly with Tikolo out of his ground. The ball rebounded onto the stumps with Tikolo’s foot on the line, but there was no appeal for what would have been a dismissal. It wasn’t costly, though, as Tikolo lofted Lehmann down the ground to be comfortably taken by Bichel at deep mid off.

Bichel returned for a second spell at the Old Fort Road End and immediately moved the old ball more effectively through the air and off the wicket, removing Collins Obuya (3) and Peter Ongondo (1), both caught behind by Gilchrist. Lehmann induced a lofted drive from Tony Suji (1) for Ponting to take a good diving catch at extra cover.

Martin Suji hit Bichel for six and Hitesh Modi battled hard to the end, while McGrath practised bowling yorkers in his final three over spell. The Kenyans were able to set Australia a target of 3.5 an over, while never really coming to terms with the bowling attack of the world champions.

After the break, Martin Suji – too short and allowing too much width - experienced the full force of Hurricane Gilchrist (67 from 43 balls, with nine fours and three sixes). The Australian champion slaughtered his three overs to the tune of 36 runs, with trademark cuts, drives and pulls to the boundary, taking four boundaries from Suji’s third (and final) over. In contrast, Peter Ongondo (10-0-44-2) bowled a tight line to hold the opening batsmen in check.

Hayden (20) looked too be on the verge of something big, gathering his runs from five scoring shots, only one of which was a little streaky – an edge to third man. Ongondo’s tight line saw Hayden’s trademark stroll down the pitch to club two boundaries to mid wicket and mid off that raised the fifty from 34 balls. Third time lucky for Ongondo – Hayden holed out from the next ball to substitute fielder Angara.

Tony Suji’s only two overs suffered similar treatment to those of his brother, going for 24. Gilchrist was dropped when on 34, a catch that might helped Kenya to a huge upset, given the immaculate work of Karim that was to come. Instead, legspinner Collins Obuya (8-0-62-0) had to suffer being brutalised to the tune of 17 from the eleventh over, during which Gilchrist put him onto and over the grandstand behind mid wicket.

But the fun was over in the next over, as Ongondo had Gilchrist caught behind by David Obuya, substituting with the gloves for his injured brother Kennedy. Andy Symonds (33*), in need of a hit, joined Ponting (18), to watch the latter stroke Ongondo to the mid wicket rope. Drinks were taken after the fifteenth over.

Enter Asif Karim, whose tight left arm slow bowling immediately put the clamps on the runfest. In short order he trapped Ponting LBW, had Lehmann (2) caught by keeper Obuya and accepted a return catch from Brad Hogg (0), who came in at number six, ahead of Damien Martyn.

With Michael Bevan missing the match with a minor muscle strain, the middle order ‘yips’ seemed to have returned. However, sanity was restored as an unbroken partnership of 61 by Symonds and Ian Harvey (28*) negotiated the tight line, turn and bounce of Karim and took Australia to the victory target in 31.2 overs.

Interestingly, it is these two players for whom the match must have had greatest significance, as they remain in contention for that one spot as yet unresolved in the Australian ODI Finals (and ongoing) lineup – the Number Seven all rounder’s position. Symonds didn’t bowl in this match, but other than that, no new insight was reached, as the Australians strolled to their fifteenth consecutive ODI victory.

Congratulations are due Kenya for the courageous way in which its batsmen stood up to the Australian attack after Lee’s early inroads and the commitment that standin captain Modi, his bowlers and fielders showed in making Australia fight for the winning runs.

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