He is different

Published : Oct 27, 2001 00:00 IST


THE De Beers Diamond Oval was decked up for the occasion. This ground in the inland town of Griqualand West is to be one of the World Cup venues in 2003. The facilities seem to have been upgraded in the last twelve months. It should look better sixteen months from now. And from a purely cricketing point of view the match between South Africa and Kenya became a one-sided affair, the aggressive batting of openers Herschelle Gibbs, Boeta Dippenaar and then Lance Klusener making light of Kenya's highest score of 229 in three matches in the Standard Bank Tri-series.

It was the third consecutive loss for the Kenyans in the three nation tournament. Its batsmen - Ravindu Shah (55), Maurice Odumbe (60) and Thomas Odoyo (53) - dug deep into their reserves and managed to put up a better performance, but Kenya's collective best was not good enough on a pitch, where even a target of 300 plus might not have given a secure feeling to the team defending such a sizeable score. Gibbs' early onslaught followed by Klusener's pyrotechnics swallowed Kenya's score with plenty of balls to spare.

The Kenyans got some credit for putting up a decent score, but as things transpired, their captain, Odumbe, was suspended for two matches, following his outburst against umpire Dave Orchard. Odumbe said that Orchard was not friendly towards his side and was not willing to show marks that indicated one of his bowlers had overstepped. He also said at the press conference that the umpire had an argument with another bowler who wanted Orchard to move back a little. Odumbe paid the price for breaching a clause (8c) of the ICC Code of Conduct for players and officials.

This was an incident that became the talking point of the tri-series dominated by the South African and Indian batsmen and bowlers. There were many, sympathetic towards the Kenyan captain, who only made a few observations. But the mistake he did was revealing to the press that he had reported the umpire to the Match Referee, Ahmed Ebrahim.

The ICC official went by the book and said in his explanation that he let off Odumbe with a two-match suspension because he admitted to having done the wrong thing, tendered an apology and was inexperienced in international cricket. The damage was done, anyway, with Odumbe going to the press which was one reason he attracted the attention of the Match Referee. "We have accepted the decision of the Match Referee and we have apologised. I don't want to say anything more," said Kenya's coach, Sandeep Patil.

Odumbe was one of the three successful batsmen for Kenya, the others being, opener Ravindu Shah and allrounder Thomas Odoyo. The Kenyans lost two early wickets, that of the Obuyas - Kennedy and David. After years of being recognised as 'Otienos', they wanted their surnames to appear as Obuyas, as entered in all their official documents. Despite a poor start, Kenya managed to recover first through Shah and then through Steve Tikolo.

Shah and Tikolo made the most of the bowling of seamer Justin Kemp who was scored off at six runs an over. The South Africans took the field without opener Gary Kirsten and fast bowler Andrew Nel. Their places were taken by Charl Langeveldt and Boeta Dippenaar. Langeveldt had a modest start to his international career taking two wickets and Dippenaar, likely to be considered for the Test series, remained undefeated on 74 in the South African run chase.

Shah and Tikolo's shot selection appeared to be right. But at the same time Tikolo seemed to have got carried away, too. He was poised to play a big innings, but his attempted hook off Makhaya Ntini ended in a catch in the hands of wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. Shah made a fine half century with eight boundary shots, before Gibbs took a fine catch at backward point; the right hander's square cut off left arm spinner, Nicky Boje, remaining in the air for a sufficiently long time for Gibbs to come off with a splendid catch.

After the loss of four wickets, Odumbe and Odoyo batted freely and carved their personal half centuries. It seemed that Kenya was well on its way to make an imposing total. But the South African captain, Pollock, changed all that with an effective second spell. In the end the Kenyans seemed to be pleased with the number of runs they managed to put on the Board.

Their bowlers were more enthusiastic because they had some runs to defend. They backed themselves to make a match of it, but Gibbs' extraordinary display of stroke production deflated their spirit and dashed their hopes of making a match of it, though leg spinner Collins Obuya (10-0-34-0) earned some respect. Gibbs hammered 14 fours in his 70, showing his style and power batting. There was no one else considered for the Man of the Match award.

Gibbs' departure brought in a batsman whose nickname is 'Zulu' and who was two years ago the player of the 1999 World Cup in England. Lance Klusener was sent to sustain the pressure on the Kenyan bowlers and also try and force the additional bonus point. The powerful left hander was in his elements soon, hitting the ball all over the park. He outscored Dippenaar at the finish, making 75 in 74 minutes to the latter's 74. It appeared all so easy for the home team, Gibbs and Dippenaar making 115 for the first wicket and Dippenaar and Klusener making another 115 for the second, for South Africa to win in a canter.

The scores:

Kenya: K. Obuya c Kemp b Pollock 2; R. Shah c Gibbs b Boje 55; D. Obuya c Boucher b Langeveldt 4; S. Tikolo c Boucher b Ntini 29; M. Odumbe lbw b Langeveldt 60; T. Odoyo b Pollock 53; M. Suji c & b Pollock 2; C. Obuya (not out) 6; T. Suji (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-7, nb-3, w-7) 18. Total (for seven wickets in 50 overs) 229.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-18, 3-82, 4-108, 5-214, 6-222, 7-223.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 10-0-41-3, Langeveldt 10-0-45-2, Kemp 5-0-45-0, Ntini 6-0-20-1, Boje 10-2-30-1, Klusener 9-0-40-0.

South Africa: B. Dippenaar (not out) 74; H. Gibbs c C. Obuya b Patel 70; L. Klusener (not out) 75; Extras (b-2, nb-5, w-4) 11. Total (for one wicket in 41.1 overs) 230.

Fall of wicket: 115.

Kenya bowling: M. Suji 5-0-30-0, Odoyo 6-0-46-0, T. Suji 3-0-20-0, C. Obuya 10-0-34-0, Patel 3.1-1-15-1, Odumbe 9-3-41-0, Tikolo 3-0-27-0, Kamande 2-0-15-0.

HERSCHELLE GIBBS is an opening batsman for South Africa in both Test matches and one-day internationals. He is different from his partner, the left handed, Gary Kirsten; the 27 year old from Western Province believes in taking the fight to the rival camp, dominating the bowlers. It was this attitude and enterprising batting that saw him play a dazzling innings against Kenya at the De Beers Diamond Oval, Kimberley.

On that eventful day Kenya showed improvement in its batting and made 229, its highest against South Africa. It was also its highest in the Tri-series, having been shot out for scores of 159 and 90 in the preceding matches against South Africa in Benoni and against India in Bloemfontein. It was a perfect batting pitch and the Kenyan batsmen made an effort to make some more runs.

If the Kenyans believed that a target of 230 would force the South Africans to play cautiously initially, then they were mistaken, for Gibbs yet again, played an innings of high quality that fetched him 70 runs (14 fours). There are very few opening batsmen in the world who can match his style and timing. The Indians possess a successful opening pair in Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, whose combined aggregate is 17,000 runs in one-day internationals.

There was a time, Sri Lanka's opening pair in Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, Pakistan's Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar, had proved to be formidable opponents. Gibbs and Kirsten have joined this elite band of openers. Gibbs' spectacular 70 was the high point in South Africa's opening stand of 115.

Another feature of Gibbs' innings was his brilliant footwork. He quickly got into position to unleash a wide range of strokes, a majority of them in front of the wicket. He played strokes at will and Boeta Dippenaar, who had replaced Kirsten in the team because the left hander was rested to tend to a muscle strain, got the advantage of being the closest spectator.

After his dismissal, Lance Klusener and Dippenaar put together another stand of 115 that took their side past the Kenyan total of 229. Klusener, promoted in the batting order made an undefeated 75. Dippenaar remained undefeated on 74, but ultimately Gibbs, who has opted for '00' as his identification number, walked away with the 'Man of the Match' award.

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