Another slow pitch resulted in another low scoring encounter at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi in the ICC Cricket World Cup. The ever improving Canada prevailed over a fighting Kenya in the Group A encounter and gained their first points in the tournament.
Kenyan captain Jimmy Kamande won the toss and elected to bat. His decision was not vindicated by his batsmen as they succumbed to the Canadian seamers – Henry Osinde and Harvir Baidwan – and slipped to 21/3 by the 7th over. That soon became 57/5 in the 15th over as the batsmen showed lack of application.
A partnership of 52 between the young Tanmay Mishra and Kamande ensured Kenya crossed 100 before Balaji Rao got one to turn away from Kamande whose cut shot rested in the hands of wicket keeper and captain Ashish Bagai. The aggressive Thomas Odoyo joined Mishra in what was to become the most productive partnership of the innings. The pair added 57 runs in 77 balls and appeared to guide Kenya to a respectable score. Odoyo struck three fours in three overs as Kenya accelerated.
Mishra got to his 50 in the 41st over but was dismissed courtesy a bowling change. John Davison came into the attack and tempted Mishra with a flighted delivery. The batsman succeeded only in getting a leading edge which the fielder at mid off pouched comfortably. Odoyo, however, remained unruffled and hit Davison for a six in the 45th over. He was the last man dismissed off the last ball of the 50th over as Kenya were all out for 198 – their highest score in the tournament. Osinde picked up an impressive 4/26 off 10 miserly overs.
Canada opted to open the batting with Rizwan Cheema and the start of the chase was quite exciting. A four and a six in the same over signalled Canada’s intentions. However, Cheema played an ugly heave to lose his stumps in the 4th over. Ruvindu Gunasekara and Zubin Surkari were also dismissed cheaply to leave Canada at 48/3. Ashish Bagai was joined by Jimmy Hansra and they carried the chase on their shoulders with a partnership of 132 runs in 191 balls.
Hansra was the more attacking of the duo as he started off with two successive fours. Bagai was content on playing the second fiddle. Hansra even helped himself to two sixes – both down the ground as the required rate came down. Hansra’s fifty came in the 33rd over and soon Bagai got his first boundary. Bagai then showed signs of opening up as the target neared. A sweet cover drive for four was followed by a sweep to fine leg for another boundary. He too got to his fifty in the 41st over as the target narrowed to 34 off the final 10 overs.
19 runs away from the target, Canada lost Hansra as he could not check his drive and ended up giving a catch to the fielder at mid on. They lost one more wicket before Bagai wound up the chase with two fours in the 46th over. Canada had won by 5 wickets and were happy that they did not mess it up this time as they did against Pakistan the other night.
Both the teams will take positives from the contest. Kenya, for the first time in the tournament, batted for 50 overs but the target was just not enough as their bowlers and fielders disappointed. But they have shown the will to fight and this will hold them in good stead in the future. Canada have been improving with every match and their batting rightly revolves around Bagai and Hansra. The opening is a worry, though. If the openers provide a solid start for Bagai and Hansra to take forward and consolidate and Cheema to finish things off, Canada can be a threat to any bowling attack.