Odoyo's all-round effort

THERE was not much to choose between the sides, and the more experienced outfit handled the pressures of a World Cup game better. That really was the difference.

THERE was not much to choose between the sides, and the more experienced outfit handled the pressures of a World Cup game better. That really was the difference.

There was a stage when minnows Canada, defending just 197, threatened to pull off its second successive win. However, Kenya managed a face-saving four-wicket victory with nine deliveries remaining in the contest.

All-rounder Thomas Odoyo was quite the star for Kenya. He picked up a career-best four for 28 off 10 persistent overs, and then remained unbeaten on a timely 27 when his side faced an embarrassing defeat at 154 for five, which, given the absence of depth in the line-up, was a rather precarious position to be in.

However, Odoyo held his nerve and his 38-run stand with Ongondo took the Kenyans to the doorstep of victory in this Pool `B' game at Newlands, Capetown. The win gave Kenya its first points after a pounding at the hands of South Africa, while Canada too had four from two games.

Odoyo has been a consistent performer for Kenya over the years and this was a game when he was undoubtedly the `Man of the Match', bowling to a nice off-stump line at a reasonable pace, and coming good with the willow at the crunch.

The Kenyan innings also witnessed a fine 61 from opener Ravindu Shah (95b, nine fours), and a strokeful 49-ball 42 from the classy No 3. Steve Tikolo. The two added an entertaining 84 for the second wicket to set up the platform on a pitch where there was some purchase for the bowlers.

Just when he appeared set for a bigger innings, the compact Tikolo was trapped leg-before by a delivery that went through straight from off-spinner John Davison, who was easily the bowler of the match.

The 39-year-old Davison, who represents South Australia in domestic competitions down under, turned in an exceptional performance (10-3-15-3). He operated to an exemplary off-stump line, shifting it adeptly to the left-handers, straightening the odd one and seldom erring in length and giving very little away.

It was his spell in the end overs — he had the strokeless Hitesh Modi in knots — that put the Kenyans under plenty of stress. Had a couple of umpiring decisions gone Canada's way, there could have been a different result.

Senior cricketer Maurice Odumbe struck a few extravagant cover and off-drives during his 19-ball 26, and it was Davison again who provided the breakthrough, nailing the flamboyant batsman on the sweep.

Once again, the Canadians fielded with commitment, and bowled with heart — apart from Davison lively paceman Davis Joseph was impressive in spells — but this was a night when they came out second best. "I think we were 20-30 runs short. We were cautious in the middle-order after we lost three early wickets," said captain Harris.

The win evoked a confident, though unrealistic reaction, from Kenyan captain Tikolo. "We are here to win the trophy, not just to be a number."

It was also a match where, for the second time in World Cup history, after the Hadlees in the '75 edition, three brothers, Kennedy, David and Collins Obuya, figured in the playing XI. They finished on the winning side too.

Ian Billcliff made history for Canada, becoming the first from the country to notch up a half century in the ODIs. It was this No. 4 batsman's 100-ball 71 that held the innings together, with Billcliff essaying some crisp strokes. It was a much-needed innings too after the Canadians, opting to bat, slumped to 48 for three. Considering the inexperience in the line-up there was a danger of the team being skittled out for a very low score.

Earlier, John Davison, opening the innings, had gone after the Canadian bowling, slamming two boundaries and clouting an equal number of sixes in his 31-ball 32. However, after he was consumed by Peter Ongondo, the top-order almost collapsed. The onus once again was on Billcliff to deliver.

Billcliff had been the most impressive Canadian batsman against the Bangladeshis and he did display the right measure of attack and defence, keeping out the good ones safely apart from striking two sixes and eight boundaries.

He found a willing partner in captain Joe Harris. The fourth-wicket pair resisted in a determined manner, adding 86 in 163 deliveries before Harris (31) fell to Collins Obuya.

Billcliff himself was dismissed at 158 when paceman Tony Suji breached his defence. Odoyo, adhering to the basics, struck telling blows towards the end. Canada was bowled out for 197 in the 49th over when Austin Cordington's wild swing at Odoyo only resulted in his stumps being rearranged. The score, which was its highest in the World Cup, nearly proved enough.

The scores:

Canada: I. Maraj b Odoyo 5; J. Davison c C. Obuya b Ongondo 31; D. Chumney c Shah b C. Obuya 10; I. Billcliff b A. Suji 71; J. Harris c A. Suji b C. Obuya 31; A. Sattaur b Odumbe 7; N. De Groot lbw b Odumbe 0; A. Bagai c D. Obuya b Odoyo 12; S. Thuraisingam c D. Obuya b Odoyo 13; A. Codrington b Odoyo 5; D. Joseph (not out) 4. Extras (lb-2, w-5, nb-1) 8. Total (in 49 overs) 197.

Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-47, 3-48, 4-134, 5-158, 6-159, 7-162, 8-186, 9-186.

Kenya bowling: M. Suji 7-1-23-0, Odoyo 10-1-28-4, Ongondo 6-1-12-1, C. Obuya 10-1-46-2, Odumbe 9-0-41-2, A. Suji 7-0-45-1.

Kenya: K. Otieno b Thuraisingam 4; R. Shah c Maraj b Thuraisingam 61; S. Tikolo lbw b Davison 42; H. Modi c Harris b Davison 6; M. Odumbe lbw b Davison 26; T. Odoyo (not out) 27; P. Ongondo b Codrington 16; D. Obuya (not out) 4. Extras (w-9, lb-3) 12. Total (for six wkts in 48.3 overs) 198.

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-99, 3-116, 4-148, 5-154, 6-192.

Canada bowling: Joseph 10-1-39-0, Thuraisingam 10-1-53-2, Codrington 10-1-44-1, Davison 10-3-15-3, De Groot 4-0-22-0, Maraj 4.3-0-22-0.