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A win that the Kenyans can rightfully cherish
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 19 October 2001

The Kenyan win on Wednesday at Port Elizabeth seemed straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen book. Allow me, then, to borrow inspiration from that Danish master of fairy-tales to explain India's plight on the day. Sourav Ganguly's men, I felt, ended up playing the Emperor in 'The Emperor's New Clothes'; the Kenyans, in turn, took on the role of the young boy who discovered the emperor had nothing on.

The fairy-tale win, though, was not fashioned by fairies and seraphs from up above, but by hard-working men who strove to give their best on the field. The Kenyans out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded the Indians and deserved the 70-run win. Indeed, an unbelievable performance by a team who, only as recently as Friday, were mauled by the same opponents at Bloemfontein.

The Kenyans, we must also remember, were without their captain Maurice Odumbe, who had been slapped with a two-match ban, and manager Mehmood Quraishy, who was hospitalised after a heart attack. Yet they lifted themselves to levels few ever expected them to scale.

Mind you, they were helped by the fact that the Indians were pathetic. I felt Sourav Ganguly's men took the match too lightly and behaved as if they had sealed the win from the moment they came on the field.

Both Venkatesh Prasad and Harvinder Singh strayed repeatedly at the onset, helping Kenya to get off to their best start in the tournament. The Indian fielding was also very lax, and they missed at least two definite run-out chances when the openers Kennedy Otieno and Ravindu Shah were batting.

Kennedy Otieno
© CricInfo
Ravindu Shah
© CricInfo
I would not like to take away any credit from Otieno and Shah though. They were positive from the beginning and capitalised on almost every bad ball on offer. Thomas Odoyo also played a good hand. It was his second consecutive fifty of the tournament and he has proved why he is known as the 'Ian Botham of Kenyan cricket'. The contributions from the three men helped the Kenyans put up a useful total which was later to pave the way for a famous victory.

The turning point of the match, however, came during the post-lunch session. Joseph Oduol Angara had played seven one-dayers before this one and claimed five wickets at an unmentionable bowling average of 57.40. But that was not to stop him on Wednesday from performing a feat which other bowlers only dare to dream. He bowled 13 dot balls on the trot to Sachin Tendulkar before castling him through the gate!

Joseph Angara
© CricInfo
Angara can claim his rightful share of credit for the dismissal. After bowling incoming deliveries for the first two overs to Sachin, he bowled a leg-cutter as the first delivery of his third over. He then followed it up with an in-cutter and got his man.

Ganguly finally had to step out and hit Angara over extra-cover to end an amazing sequence of 25 dot balls by the 29-year-old Kenyan. The Indian skipper hit another six and a four and was looking good when he was unfortunately bowled by a ball deflected onto the stumps by his right thigh pad.

I thought Angara's fast-bowling partners also bowled an excellent line and length. They tightened the screws on the Indians, and this yielded a bounty of wickets. Their stranglehold was eloquently illustrated by one act on the field when Rahul Dravid found himself having to step out and hit the ball over point to score his first runs. Dravid and the rest of the batsmen, though, were found wanting on the day, and except for an entertaining cameo by Harbhajan Singh, there was nothing to write home about.

The abject failure of team has proved yet again that we do not have any bench strength at all. It also drives home the need for some serious soul-searching. Our batting, as also our bowling, has been very inconsistent in spite of our talk of building a side for the last ten years. This lack of consistency is what keeps us a few rungs below top sides like South Africa and Australia. For them, winning is a habit. We, on the other hand, are too patchy. On our day, we can be brilliant and put it across the best of sides. And then we have days like 'Port Elizabeth Wednesday'.

Any loss can prove detrimental, particularly when the winners are a side like Kenya. As Friday and our encounter with the South Africans approaches, we need to rediscover the winning habit. It is the last stretch of the competition, and we would do well to regain our rhythm. Winning the tri-series, as I hope everyone would agree, would be just the right morale-booster ahead of the all-important Test series.

© CricInfo

Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth :



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