Nine out of nine for the Aussies

This World Cup match had some memorable moments. First it was Brett Lee's hat trick, and then a fighting knock from Steve Tikolo, followed by the audacious hitting of Adam Gilchrist, for Australia, and then a dream spell, which went in vain, for the left-arm spinner Aasif Karim of Kenya.

G. VISWANATH

This World Cup match had some memorable moments. First it was Brett Lee's hat trick, and then a fighting knock from Steve Tikolo, followed by the audacious hitting of Adam Gilchrist, for Australia, and then a dream spell, which went in vain, for the left-arm spinner Aasif Karim of Kenya.

Brett Lee, who got rid of Brijal Patel, is hugged by his captain, Ricky Ponting. Some of the Aussie team-members also gather to celebrate Lee's second wicket in a row. Lee went on to perform the hat-trick. — Pic. AP-

Kenya took the field without two of its leading performers — Maurice Odumbe and Thomas Odoyo. This weakened the team's all-round strength. Even after Brett Lee's devastating spell, Kenya managed to complete the full quota of 50 overs. It put up a lion-hearted display.

Acting skipper Hitesh Modi said at the post match press conference that Kenya once again proved that it deserved a place in the semi-final. Australian, which did not lose a single match in the first round as well as in the Super Six stage, was not complacent against Kenya in the last match of the Super Six.

Its captain Ricky Ponting has found things going smoothly. Though the team was on a roll, it did not take Kenya lightly in the day/night match at Kingsmead.

In fact, the defending champion was not allowed to have its way by the enthusiastic bunch of Kenyans, who tried to defend a small total of 174. The African team showed fine spirit and kept the contest alive before the fifth-wicket pair of Andrew Symonds (33 not out, 49b, 5 x 4, 1 x 6) and Ian Harvey (28 not out, 43b, 4x4) steered their team home.

Lee got into the act as soon as the Kenyans began their batting. Fast bowlers are making waves in this World Cup and Lee continued this trend by dismissing three batsmen in a row. This made him the second bowler in one World Cup to perform a hat trick.

Clearly Australia's intention was to finish off the match quickly and make a quick departure to Port Elizabeth for the semi-final. From the way Lee started this looked quite possible. He captured the wickets of Kennedy Otieno (1), Brijal Patel (0) and David Obuya (0). By the end of the fourth over, Kenya was reduced to three for three. Lee showed the power of fast and swing bowling in his first spell of six overs. In fact, Lee's inswingers did the damage in this match.

Kenya recovered through some gritty knocks from Shah (46, 83b, 6 x 4s), who struck some fine shots, and Tikolo (51, 100b, 5 x4), who found his touch after a lean patch.

Shah was at the crease for three minutes short of two hours and Tikolo for four minutes short of one and half hours. They were not perturbed by Lee's bowling feat. They repelled the attack through some bold hittings which was required at that point to put the Aussies on the defence. Shah has been the batsman in form in the competition and he did play his part.

The right-hander was not overrawed by the bowling of Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Andy Bichel. He demonstrated fine technique. His 46 was a solid effort and was made when the proceedings were going in favour of Australia and Lee.

The Kenyan skipper, Tikolo, joined him at three for three and the two carried the score to 82. Lee was off the attack and runs became a little easier to score, although the Kenyans had to sweat it out.

The important thing as Karim said was that Kenya batted for 50 overs. "We played as a team and proved that we can contest against a team like Australia. I am happy that I won my first Man of the Match in a one-day international against Australia. My previous best was five for 35 against Bangladesh, but I would cherish this most,'' said Karim.

Gilchrist (67, 43b, 9x4, 3x6) batted like a cavalier and put his team in the driving seat at 98 for one before Australia lost three wickets to Karim and one to Peter Ongondo.

"Well, all these things happen in a one-day game. We lost more wickets,'' said Ponting without actually conceding that his team was in real trouble. The Australian batsmen are comfortable dealing with fast bowlers and seamers, but have struggled to force the pace against the spinners.

"I have been out of touch for many months and retired after the last World Cup in England. But the Kenyan selectors recalled me in January. There was some turn and bounce and I got the wickets,'' said Karim who finished with a great analysis of 8.2-6-7-3.It was a match that started with a fast bowler, Lee, performing a hat trick and ended with a spinner taking three wickets in two overs.

In between some good cricket and unorthodox shots were played and Australia notched its ninth straight win.

The scores:

Kenya: K. Obuya b Lee 1; R. Shah c (sub) b Hogg 46; B. Patel c Ponting b Lee 0; D. Obuya b Lee 0; S. Tikolo c Bichel b Lehmann 51; H. Modi (not out) 39; C. Obuya c Gilchrist b Bichel 3; P. Ongondo c Gilchrist b Bichel 1; A. Suji c Ponting b Lehmann 1; M. Suji (not out) 15. Extras (lb-10, w-6, nb-1) 17. Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 174.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-3, 3-3, 4-82, 5-131, 6-139, 7-141, 8-144.

Australia bowling: McGrath 10-1-32-0, Lee 8-3-14-3, Bichel 9-1-42-2, Hogg 10-1-31-1, Harvey 7-0-23-0, Lehmann 6-0-22-2.

Australia: A. Gilchrist c D. Obuya b Ongondo 67; M. Hayden c (sub) b Ongondo 20; R. Ponting lbw b Karim 18; A. Symonds (not out) 33; D. Lehmann c D. Obuya b Karim 2; B. Hogg c & b Karim 0; I. Harvey (not out) 28. Extras (b-4, lb-1, w-4, nb-1) 10. Total (for five wkts. in 31.2 overs) 178.

Fall of wickets: 1-50, 2-98, 3-109, 4-117, 5-117.

Kenya bowling: M. Suji 3-0-36-0, Ongondo 10-0-44-2, A. Suji 2-0-24-0, C. Obuya 8-0-62-0, A. Karim 8.2-6-7-3.