It's no stroll in the park

Australian captain Ricky Pointing (left) shakes hands with Kenya's Collins Obuya, who missed a century by just two runs. "We needed a good, solid hit-out, and we got 50 overs with the bat and ball. All the bowlers got a good work-out," said Ponting.-AP Australian captain Ricky Pointing (left) shakes hands with Kenya's Collins Obuya, who missed a century by just two runs. "We needed a good, solid hit-out, and we got 50 overs with the bat and ball. All the bowlers got a good work-out," said Ponting.

The outcome against Kenya was never in doubt, but Australia will hope for a stronger show when more serious tests arrive.

Australia may have extended its record unbeaten run in the World Cup to 33 matches with the result, but its 60-run victory against Kenya in Bangalore was hardly the landslide that was popularly predicted. As Kenya notched up its highest total in the tournament, the holder's effort resembled more a desert marathon than a stroll in the park. Tanmay Mishra (72, 89b, 8x4, 1x6) and Man-of-the-Match Collins Obuya (98 not out, 129b, 9x4, 3x6) batted untroubled in the face of an Australian bowling attack which, with the exception of Brett Lee, appeared completely unthreatening.

“We were obviously a bit rusty having a long break between games,” said Ponting. “Our batting could have been a little bit better. Our bowling was OK. We probably lacked a little bit of intensity required through our middle overs. I'd have liked to have taken more wickets in the game; no doubt about that. But I'm not that disappointed. We needed a good, solid hit-out, and we got 50 overs with the bat and ball. All the bowlers got a good work-out.”

Mishra batted with a fluency that portends well for Kenya's future. He used his feet to the spinners, wonderfully driving Smith, Krejza and Clarke for fours on the offside. But for his unnecessary run-out, the African side could have gotten closer to the target. Obuya, although visibly lacking Mishra's class, played some big shots on the night, including three sixes off Watson. The 29-year-old needed to score three runs off the last two balls of the match to complete a century but could manage only one. “On the last ball, I just wanted it very, very badly,” he said. “The hundred would have been good in the record books. I'm disappointed but I'll settle for 98 each and every time against Australia.”

Earlier, Australia made 324 after Clarke (93) and Michael Hussey (54) put together a 114-run partnership for the fifth wicket following Haddin's scratchy 65. The outcome was never in doubt but the victor will hope for a stronger show when more serious tests arrive.

— Shreedutta Chidananda

Blistering knocks...New Zealand's Brendon McCullum (above), against Canada and West Indies' Kieron Pollard (below), against Ireland.-

New Zealand v Canada (Group A)

Brendon McCullum notched up his third ODI century as New Zealand cruised to a comfortable 97-run victory over Canada at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

McCullum hit a 107-ball 101 while stand-in captain Ross Taylor scored a 44-ball 74 to take the Black Caps, who were put in to bat, to 358 for six. Canada never looked to pose any threat and could muster only 261 for nine in its 50 overs.

New Zealand, however, got an injury scare to its key pace bowler Kyle Mills, who was forced to leave the field in the fifth over after injuring his left knee and did not return. Mills grabbed two wickets in his 16 deliveries to reduce Canada to four for two. The Black Caps will be hoping for Mills' quick recovery as skipper Daniel Vettori is already nursing a troublesome knee.

Canada was soon reeling at 50 for three but skipper Ashish Bagai made a doughty 84 before he was restrained by cramps and was caught behind by McCullum off his brother Nathan's delivery. Bagai's innings came in 87 balls with 10 fours.

Bagai and Jimmy Hansra (70 not out) shared a 125-run stand for the fourth wicket but both were cramping in the latter part of their innings. Hansra retired hurt on 53 but returned in the 46th over, but by then there was little that could be done.

Jacob Oram took three for 47 for New Zealand and was well complimented by Tim Southee and Scott Styris.

The New Zealand batsmen were brutal in their treatment of the Canadian bowlers on a slow pitch. The Black Caps made the most of the batting Powerplay, hammering 74 off five overs. Martin Guptill and McCullum added 53 for the first wicket before a smart catch by Bagai removed Guptill off Harvir Baidwan. Jesse Ryder reached 38 before chipping veteran off-spinner John Davison to Henry Osinde at long-on. McCullum played a composed knock, hitting 12 boundaries and two sixes. Four balls into the batting Powerplay in the 37th over, McCullum departed but Taylor, fresh from his unbeaten 131 against Pakistan, took on the bowlers as 74 runs came from the five overs.

West Indies v Ireland (Group B)

For one team, it was a platform that sprung a potential match-winner for future challenges. For another, it was a fight against technology. West Indies thrived on the splendid show by Kieron Pollard while Ireland suffered from what the team claimed was a debatable ruling by Asoka de Silva, the on-field umpire.

Of course, a century by Devon Smith enabled the West Indies to take early charge but it was Pollard's blistering assault that gave the team the position to dictate. “I was under pressure going in to bat. We got off to a slow start. But it was a matter of backing yourself. I took my chances and they came off for me. That was good,” said Pollard on his effort.

Often slammed by some past greats back in the Caribbean for his failures when part of the national team, Pollard was relieved this knock came at the right time. “It was one of my better innings for West Indies. I take it is a stepping stone and see if one can continue the momentum. I want to play better innings and more frequent innings for the West Indies. Everyone has been saying that Pollard hasn't done anything in international cricket. There can be no better stage than the World Cup to do that. I will use this as a positive to take a step forward,” said Pollard, who confessed, “I relished the opportunity to bat higher and get to bat more overs. It was a chance to showcase what I can do. I can bat anywhere for the team.”

The second half witnessed a controversy when Gary Wilson, batting strongly, was adjudged leg-before at a crucial stage. The match was interestingly poised and the Irish had reason to feel let down.

“Pad first or bat first but Gary was playing a shot. You can see that clearly from the replay that he was playing a shot. Commonsense should have prevailed. It was one of the things that cost us the game. It happened at a crucial moment,” bemoaned Ireland captain William Porterfield.

Because of the decision, Porterfield insisted, “We couldn't take the Powerplay. Technology is supposed to eradicate the bad decisions but in my opinion this time it didn't. We had got ourselves in a pretty good position and we were doing well at the halfway stage but we lost wickets at crucial times. The Powerplay delay set us back. I have no complaints against the boys.”

The Irish lost but they won many a heart at Mohali with the wonderful spirit with which they competed. Porterfield giving credit to the opposition said it all.

— Vijay Lokapally Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe (Group A)

Openers Upul Tharanga and Tillekaratne Dilshan set a World Cup record for the first-wicket as Sri Lanka registered a thumping 139-run win over Zimbabwe in Kandy.

Tharanga (133) and Dilshan (144) piled up 282 runs for the first wicket as Sri Lanka scored 327 for six in 50 overs. It was also the first time that two openers got to hundreds in a World Cup.

In reply, Zimbabwe failed to capitalise on a good start and was bowled out for 188 runs in 39 overs with part-time spinner Dilshan ending with figures of 4-4. Dilshan was also adjudged the Man of the Match.

Brendan Taylor gave Zimbabwe a fluent start with 80 off 72 balls and was ably supported by Regis Chakabva (35) as the side raced to 116. Muttiah Muralitharan, playing in front of his home crowd for the last time, broke the partnership by rattling Chakabva's stumps in the 20th over. It triggered the collapse as Zimbabwe lost nine wickets for just 72 runs.

Besides Taylor and Chakabva, only Craig Ervine (17), Graeme Cremer (14) and Ray Price (11) could get to double figures while extras added 16.

Earlier in the day, Sri Lankan openers Tharanga and Dilshan broke the record of 194 runs set by Pakistan openers Saeed Anwar and Wajahatullah Wasti in the 1999 World Cup, after the team was put in by Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura.

Dilshan got to his hundred in 95 balls, while Tharanga reached it in 122 balls. Dilshan played aggressively right from the start. Tharanga, for his part, played a patient innings and waited for the bad balls. The two players were well set to carry their bats through, but paceman Chris Mpofu struck in the 45th over to remove Tharanga caught by Chigumbura. The partnership was four runs short of the all-time best first-wicket stand of 286 set by Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya against England in Leeds in 2006.

In the next over, spinner Prosper Usteya had Dilshan caught by Tinashe Panyangara. Dilshan hit 16 fours and a six in his 131-ball knock while Tharanga struck 17 fours in his 141-ball innings.

After the openers departed, the flow of runs slowed and Sri Lanka's 300 came at the end of over 47. Mpofu picked up three wickets in the 48th over and ended with figures of four for 62 from his seven overs.

Canada's skipper Ashish Bagai celebrates his half-century as Jimmy Hansra looks on, against Kenya.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Canada v Kenya (Group A)

Ashish Bagai was at home really. The Canada captain, who studied at the St. Columba's School in Delhi, hardly five km from the Kotla ground, enjoyed the ‘home' support that came his way.

He was in the middle when Canada recorded only its second win in World Cup history but importantly it confirmed the belief that lack of proper infrastructure was the main reason for Bagai and his men not making much progress at the international level.

“It was indeed a special win for us as it came in front of the Delhi crowd which wanted us to do well,” remarked Bagai, who had his entire family at the ground.

“My grandparents, parents and cousins, almost 50 people were cheering us. It was good to have them, it was really great,” said an emotional Bagai. He was 11 when his family migrated to Canada. “I was there in Canada's first win in World Cup (over Bangladesh in Durban, 2003). That was a great one, too,” remembered Bagai.

The Delhi-born Bagai and the Ludhiana-born Jimmy Hansra were the key scorers for Canada which also gained from the wonderful spell by Henry Osinde, the tall and well-built medium-pacer. His four wickets fetched him the Man of the Match award.

“I think it was a team effort. I needed a back up from the other end for the pressure to be kept up. It was a combination of everything. We stayed positive and bowled wicket to wicket. But after the first couple of deliveries it was a different ball game. There was swing and if you bowled in the right areas, the ball did the rest,” said Osinde.

The Kenya captain, Jimmy Kamande, was crestfallen. “I will not hide it. It definitely is the most disappointing of our tournament losses. I still believe we should have done much better against Canada. Man to man, they were not as strong as our previous opponents, so the loss is hurting now.”

The captains observed the pitch was not the best to play a one-day match on. “It wasn't an easy wicket but once you got used to it, you could work the ball around pretty easily. Jimmy and I batted sensibly and he cleared the ropes when there was some pressure,” said the Canada captain. It was not a match that was followed with much interest but then it meant a lot to Canada.

— Vijay Lokapally THE RESULTS

March 13: Australia vs. Kenya (Group A), Bangalore.

Result: Australia won by 60 runs.

Australia 324 for six in 50 overs (B. Haddin 65, R. Ponting 36, M. Clarke 93, M. Hussey 54, N. Odhiambo 3-57) bt Kenya 264 for six in 50 overs (C. Obuya 98 not out, T. Mishra 72, T. Odoyo 35).

March 13: Canada vs. New Zealand (Group A), Mumbai.

Result: New Zealand won by 97 runs.

New Zealand 358 for six in 50 overs (B. McCullum 101, J. Ryder 38, R. Taylor 74, K. Williamson 34 not out, S. Styris 35, J. Franklin 31 not out, H. Baidwan 3-84) bt Canada 261 for nine in 50 overs (H. Patel 31, A. Bagai 84, J. Hansra 70 not out, J. Oram 3-47).

March 11: Ireland vs. West Indies (Group B), Mohali.

Result: West Indies won by 44 runs.

West Indies 275 in 50 overs (Devon Smith 107, S. Chanderpaul 35, K. Pollard 94, K. O'Brien 4-71) bt Ireland 231 in 49 overs (E. Joyce 84, N. O'Brien 25, G. Wilson 61, S. Benn 4-53, D. Sammy 3-31).

March 10: Sri Lanka vs. Zimbabwe (Group A), Kandy.

Result: Sri Lanka won by 139 runs.

Sri Lanka 327 for six in 50 overs (U. Tharanga 133, T. Dilshan 144, C. Mpofu 4-62) bt Zimbabwe 188 in 39 overs (B. Taylor 80, R. Chakabva 35, M. Muralitharan 3-34, Dilshan 4-4).

March 7: Canada vs. Kenya (Group A), Delhi. Result: Canada won by five wickets.

Kenya 198 in 50 overs (C. Obuya 31, T. Mishra 51, T. Odoyo 51, H. Osinde 4-26) lost to Canada 199 for five in 45.3 overs (A. Bagai 64 not out, J. Hansra 70).