An improved batting performance from Kenya was not enough to prevent Australia from winning by 60 runs in their Group A match of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Bengaluru. After Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey shone with the bat, it appeared their bowlers had an off day as they struggled to take wickets. But Australia will be happy to take away two points from the game.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. It was very evident Australia wanted a full game as they were denied by the weather in the previous match against Sri Lanka. Shane Watson and Brad Haddin provided a steady start before Watson was dismissed in the 8th over off a ball that bounced a tad more than usual and the edge off the bat was taken by wicket keeper Maurice Ouma. Haddin and Ponting carried on nicely even though Haddin did not look his best. He revealed his range of strokes in the later part of his innings. He was dismissed in the 25th over as he was caught trying to clear the boundary over midwicket.
This started a mini collapse for Australia as two more wickets fell in the next two overs – Ponting was trapped in front by a ball that would have hit the middle stump as replays suggested and White was foxed by a ball that turned, beat his bat and crashed on to the stumps. Mike Hussey, recalled into the squad, and Michael Clarke then began a resurrection. They were quick to punish the bad balls and ran hard for the singles and twos. Clarke reached his fifty in the 40th over and Hussey joined him in the 43rd over.
Hussey was dismissed in the fourth over of the batting Powerplay as he tried to clear the long on boundary but found the ball going straight to the fielder. Clarke took the attack to Elijah Otieno in the 46th over which fetched 16 runs including a four and a six. But he was dismissed in the 49th over by the impressive Nehemiah Odhiambo. Australia finished their innings at 324/6 having added 93 runs in the last 10 overs.
Kenya started their reply disastrously as Maurice Ouma edged a ball from Brett Lee that moved away from him and Haddin took a simple catch. Alex Obanda hit two sixes off Shaun Tait before being dismissed by a low full toss. The Obuya brothers – David and Collins – carried on obdurately before a miscommunication between them resulted in David being run out. At 46/3, Australia were tightening the screws.
But Tanmay Mishra counter attacked with the determined Collins Obuya and Australia found themselves at the receiving end of some superb strokeplay. Mishra’s six of a Steve Smith short ball was a treat to watch. Obuya was quick to realize that Mishra was forcing the pace beautifully and gladly let him have the strike on most occasions. Mishra got to a well made fifty in the 28th over but for some reason forgot his strokeplay after that. He was run out by a beautiful throw from Clarke after he had added 115 runs for the fourth wicket with Obuya in 155 balls. Obuya then received another hard striker of the ball in Thomas Odoyo.
Obuya brought up his fifty with a six off Lee to long off. Together with Odoyo he too went into attack mode and was particularly severe on Shane Watson. He hit Watson over square leg and deep midwicket for sixes. Odoyo too hit a six off Watson as the batting Powerplay yielded 49 runs for Kenya. Odoyo was dismissed soon off a beautiful full delivery that beat his bat and took his middle stump. The asking rate was too high at this stage and the only interest revolved around whether Obuya would get a century. Two fours in the 49th over brought him to 96 but he could score only two more in the final over. Kenya finished with 264/6 in their 50 overs – their highest score in this edition of the World Cup.
Kenya will take a lot of positives from this match even though it came so late for them in the tournament. Tanmay Mishra was a revelation with the bat. Collins Obuya held things together at one end and with two brilliant partnerships ensured Kenya batted for 50 overs. With a little more experience, they would have given Australia a run for their money. Nehemiah Odhiambo was impressive with the ball but that cannot be said of the other bowlers.
Australia will be happy that Mike Hussey is back among the runs after the injury lay off. They will not be happy with the bowling effort though. They missed someone like David Hussey who could have picked wickets on the Bengaluru pitch. Australia will be happy that their bowlers had an off day against one of the weakest teams in the tournament and will look to improve against Canada and Pakistan, their remaining opponents in the league stage.