After the meek capitulation in the first match against New Zealand, Kenya did nothing to improve its image in its second round-robin match against Pakistan at Hambantota. They were out of sorts in a display that once again underlined the difference in standards between the heavyweights and the minnows.
Kenya’s abject batting failure continued though they improved upon the performance against New Zealand. This time they scored 112 runs and lasted 33.1 overs. The first three wickets added 73 runs in 22.2 overs but their last seven fell for just 39 runs as they not only failed to make a match of the 318 run target set by Pakistan but more importantly, did not last 50 overs.
The first wicket added 37 runs cautiously before Seren Waters was run out off a fine direct hit from Umar Akmal who was quick to reach the ball. Six runs later, fellow opener Maurice Ouma edged a good length delivery from Umar Gul to return to the pavilion. Collins Obuya, the most assured Kenya batsman on view, then added 30 for the 3rd wicket with veteran Steve Tikolo.
Once Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi brought himself on to bowl, things changed quickly. He got Tikolo to step down the track but the ball held back a little which resulted in Tikolo playing the shot early. The ball beat the gap between his bat and pad and hit the stumps. Afridi went on to pick up 4 more wickets and hastened the misery for the Kenyans.
Pakistan also was in a spot of bother at the start of their innings after they decided to bat on winning the toss. Mohammad Hafeez fell to an astounding catch by Waters when the scoreboard read only 11 runs and Ahmed Shahzad who had a torrid time at the crease was dismissed soon when he got a leading edge trying to play across the line and gave an easy catch to Jimmy Kamande at mid-off.
That brought Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan to the crease. They steadily re-built the innings with a stand of 98 runs. Kamran was the more aggressive and innovative of the two and he once went outside his off stump and swung a ball over midwicket for a four. Soon after reaching his fifty, Kamran threw it all away by charging down against Shane Ngoche, the spinner, and was duly stumped. Younis then got an able ally in Misbah ul Haq who made his intentions clear straightaway with a straight six of Tikolo.
Pakistan lost Younis Khan also soon after he had reached his fifty as he was trapped in front trying to sweep a ball. The young but out-of-form Umar Akmal strode into the crease and the pair began to accelerate. In only 13 overs, they plundered 118 runs off a tiring attack. The batting Powerplay was taken in the 44th over as Haq and Akmal waded into the attack with some astounding strokeplay. The 5 overs of Powerplay yielded 70 runs for Pakistan and the final two overs of the innings went for a further 30 runs and Pakistan ended with a hefty total of 317/7 in 50 overs, one that would be out of reach for the hapless Kenyans.
Kenya will have to work hard in their remaining matches to regain their pride. They have worries in both batting and bowling. Their batsmen need to learn to bat through 50 overs. The fact that Kenya conceded 46 extras – 37 wides, 3 no-balls and 3 leg-byes – was proof enough of their bowling lacking control and discipline. The wides and no-balls together contributed an extra 6.4 overs. This should give them enough food for thought.
On the other hand, Pakistan had an easy outing and was never really tested. However, the opening batsmen would do well to pull up their socks because they next play the formidable Sri Lankans who would gladly cash in on such opportunities.