One-sided African affair

AFTER their team's three-run defeat against the West Indies at the World Cup opener in Newlands, Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten led South Africa to a facile victory over Kenya at the North West Stadium, Potchefstroom.

G. VISWANATH

Lance Klusener, who bagged four wickets, gets a hug from captain Shaun Pollock as wicketkeeper Mark Boucher looks on. Pollock picked up two wickets.-— Pics. AFP

AFTER their team's three-run defeat against the West Indies at the World Cup opener in Newlands, Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten led South Africa to a facile victory over Kenya at the North West Stadium, Potchefstroom. South Africa travelled to the outskirts of Johannesburg without a trace of the defeat weighing it down. Shaun Pollock's team knew that there were four points to be pocketed from the match against Kenya that continues to be one of the minnows of the game.

Pollock did not lose his temper after the reverse against the West Indies. He did not resort to the blame game. He is the captain and his main duty is to look after everybody's interest and make the maximum use of the potential on hand. The South African national selectors had picked 15 players for the competition and Pollock had to make do with them.

A man who came under immediate scrutiny after the loss against the West Indies was Allan Donald. He was not in the eleven the selectors and Pollock picked for the match against Kenya. The third bowler, after Pollock and Makhaya Ntini, was Charl Langeveldt. Donald had preserved himself for a home finish to his career and had wanted to play a role in South Africa's World Cup bid. But one poor spell of bowling by him against the West Indies, made the South African selectors mull over and make a change.

There was talk of Donald being rested for the match against Kenya and of keeping him in fine fettle for the third league match, against New Zealand. At the conclusion of the match against Kenya, Pollock did clarify that Donald's exclusion from the team had nothing to do with his unsatisfactory performance against the West Indies. It was just that they wanted him to be fresh and fit for the tough matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

The match between South Africa and Kenya meandered along more or less on expected lines. Steve Tikolo won the toss and decided to bat on a perfect batting strip. But a poor start following Kennedy Obuya's dismissal, a brilliant piece of work by Gibbs provided the home team a chance to run through the Kenyan batting line-up in exactly 38 overs and 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled break.

Ravindu Shah, one of the experienced Kenyan batsmen, made 60 runs and he must have been delighted with his effort because the rival bowling consisted of Pollock, Ntini, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener. Shah's 108-minute defiance was the only note of success for the Kenyans who are yet to post a win against South Africa.

Pollock was as usual probing and looking for wickets. He got into the act taking the wicket of Brijal Patel and then the most important wicket of Tikolo. A few fielding lapses blotted South Africa's copybook, but the home team still managed to keep the flow of runs under check and bowl Kenya out for 138 with Lance Klusener picking up four wickets in his eight-over spell. He was declared the Man of the Match.

Gibbs has always been a treat to watch. He has rarely failed to set the tempo and after a good look at Martin Suji and Thomas Odoyo, he began to pummel the Kenyan bowling to all parts of the North West Stadium. This was a match shorn of the competitive element and Gibbs and Kirsten forged yet another partnership without being separated.

The early finish of the Kenyan innings gave a chance for the South African openers to come out and face eight overs before the teams adjourned for lunch. Frankly, Tikolo had no options; he went about the motions of making bowling changes. Suji, Kenya's experienced seamer, bowled four overs and Odoyo, six. Their offerings were easily dealt with, first by Gibbs and later by Kirsten, who in a flurry of shots scored five boundaries in quick succession.

As the match proceeded towards its expected finish, Gibbs thumped four boundary shots. He made 87 off 66 balls with 12 fours and four sixes, while Kirsten made 52 off 63 balls with nine hits to the fence. Gibbs hooked Peter Ongondo to the square leg fence to announce South Africa's eighth's win against Kenya and its first victory in this edition of the World Cup.

Kenya's captain Tikolo said it's always difficult to prevail over South Africa and that his side was not up to the mark to match a strong team like South Africa. "It's a batting pitch, but we did not make enough runs. We have to improve,'' said Tikolo. His counterpart, Pollock was delighted that his team picked up four points.

But there was a bad news for the South Africans. They were told that Jonty Rhodes had hurt his right hand and was forced out of the competition.

The scores:

Kenya: Kennedy Obuya (run out) 1; Ravindu Shah (run out) 60; Brijal Patel c Boucher b Pollock 1; Steve Tikolo c Kirsten b Pollock 3; Hitesh Modi c Pollock b Boje 9; Maurice Odumbe c Gibbs b Klusener 16; Thomas Odoyo c Boucher b Ntini 22; Collins Obuya lbw b Klusener 0; Martin Suji c Pollock b Klusener 0; Peter Ongondo c Kirsten b Klusener 13; Aasif Karim (not out) 0; Extras (b 1, lb 3, nb 4, w 7) 15; Total (in 38 overs) 140.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-7, 3-26, 4-62, 5-91, 6-105, 7-105, 8-120, 9-139.

South Africa bowling: Shaun Pollock 6-2-15-2, Makhaya Ntini 7-0-14-1, Jacques Kallis 3-0-23-0, Charl Langeveldt 5-0-24-0, Nicky Boje 9-1-44-1, Lance Klusener 8-2-16-4.

South Africa: Herschelle Gibbs (not out) 87; Gary Kirsten (not out) 52; Extras (nb 1, w 2) 3; Total (for no wkt. in 21.2 overs) 142.

Kenya bowling: Martin Suji 4-0-18-0, Thomas Odoyo 6-0-37-0, Aasif Karim 2-0-17-0, Collins Obuya 5-1-32-0, Maurice Odumbe 2-0-21-0, Peter Ongondo 2.2-0-17-0.