Neil McKenzie and Boucher butcher Kenya
Peter Robinson - 22 October 2001
South Africa swept to an overwhelming 208-run victory over Kenya at Newlands on Monday night, underlining the difference in quality between the two teams, but all is not lost for the Kenyans who meet India in what has effectively become the Standard Bank One-Day series semifinal in Paarl on Wednesday.
On Monday, however, Kenya were comprehensively outplayed as South Africa thundered to 354 for three and then bowled the East Africans out for 146. Gary Kirsten (124) and Neil McKenzie (131 not out) helped themselves to sumptuous centuries and Mark Boucher hammered out 51 not out off just 20 deliveries as the Kenyan attack was ripped to pieces
It was one-way traffic throughout even though the South Africans rested four players to give everyone in their overstocked 15-man squad a game. The changes brought Kirsten back into the side after a thigh-muscle strain – although you would never have thought it from the way he scampered back and forth – and allowed McKenzie to come in at three.
Kirsten was missed by Martin Suji on 12, a sharp return chance, but thereafter he and McKenzie took the Kenyan bowlers to the cleaners in a record, run-a-ball second-wicket stand which yielded 207. McKenzie, perhaps, played the more handsome strokes, but Kirsten could scarcely be matched for the way he found the gaps, barely wasting a loose ball and scoring a great many of his runs off the good ones.
As with McKenzie, Boucher also took his chance to have a hit, hit being the operative word, as he thrashed his way through the closing overs to set Kenya a task that was, inevitably, going to be beyond them.
The heroics of last Wednesday, when Kenya upset India, were quickly a thing of the past as Kenya struggled through their first 15 overs and, apart from Thomas Odoyo who made a brave 44, there was little real resistance. Charl Langeveldt finished the match with the figures of 9.3-0-21-4 and Boucher snapped up four victims behind the stumps.
For the South Africans, though, there was immense encouragement in the shape of Nantie Hayward, playing in his first match of the tournament. Hayward, whose relationship with the one-day game has not always been entirely happy, bowled with genuine pace, working up to 145km/h in his first over and going through six overs in the first spell with far fewer loose balls than might have been expected.
His form comes at a time when South Africa have a problem, if not quite a crisis, with their fast bowlers. Mfuneko Ngam and Allan Donald both went down with injuries at the weekend, but Hayward demonstrated that he could be the man to provide a cutting edge both in Friday's one-day final in Durban and for the three-Test series against India next month.
The Kenyans have had a tricky time of it in South Africa. Captain Maurice Odumbe was serving the second game of a two-match ban on Monday, although he will be available again on Wednesday; their manager was taken ill and underwent heart surgery last week; and Joseph Angara, who bowled so well against India, has had to return home because of a bereavement. Anagra's unavailability opened up a space in the squad for Hitesh Modi who was already in South Africa on holiday.
Still, they have beaten India once and they have everything to play for on Wednesday. You wouldn't bet on India losing to the Kenyans for a second time in this tournament, but then again, you wouldn't have bet on them losing to Kenya at all.