Too much too late

THE West Indies drubbed Kenya by 142 runs at the De Beers Diamond Oval. This was what it should have done against the other teams in its section and made sure of its qualification for the second stage of the ICC World Cup.


Opener Chris Gayle ran up a century, his first in a World Cup and fifth overall.-Pic. REUTERS

THE West Indies drubbed Kenya by 142 runs at the De Beers Diamond Oval. This was what it should have done against the other teams in its section and made sure of its qualification for the second stage of the ICC World Cup. But skipper Carl Hooper and the tour selectors made mistakes and paid a heavy price for it. The West Indies arrived in Kimberley for its last match of the league against Kenya aware that it would go home irrespective of the outcome.

Things had gone out of control much before Carl Hooper's team knocked the Kenyans down. West Indies' most convincing win did not change equations in the points table. The rain interruption against Bangladesh at Benoni was a cruel blow. The West Indies lost two points there. The team made a promising start on the back of a wonderful century by Brian Lara in the opening match of the World Cup against South Africa at Newlands. Thereafter, it had opportunities against New Zealand at Port Elizabeth and Sri Lanka. But it did not make the most of it and surrendered eight points.

After the win at Kimberley, Hooper admitted that his team was inconsistent. "Sometimes we were a little patchy, but I think we can take a lot of positives from the tournament. Even though we are not in the Super Sixes we can take a lot of heart from the way we played in this tournament. We need to have a little break and then hopefully the board will arrange for us to meet up about a week before the first Test (against Australia) so that we can gel together."

Nothing went right for the Kenyans. Their leading batsman and captain Steve Tikolo, who wants fresh faces to occupy senior positions in the Kenya Cricket Association (KCA), failed again. He was not willing to accept that his team was crushed, but took refuge from criticism saying: "It was a bad day in the office for us. If you play in such a tournament, you have a bad day and that was what happened today. We are through to the Super Sixes. I think our batting has not been up to the mark. That used to be our strength. Hopefully, that will come good in the Super Sixes."

Bolstered by a century from Jamaican Chris Gayle, his first in a World Cup, the West Indies made a modest total of 246. The opening pair of Gayle and Wavell Hinds was finally separated and rightly so because it had been through such a wretched period and was responsible for poor starts. The selectors decided to rest Ramnaresh Sarwan who had taken a blow on his head while facing Sri Lankan fast bowler Dilhara Fernando.

The West Indies opening pair made 122 runs, Shivnarine Chanderpaul opening out to make attacking shots off seamer Joseph Angara and offspinner Maurice Odumbe. Gayle concentrated long enough to make his fifth century (119, 151b, 8x4, 1x6) in one-day internationals. The Kenyans fought back to keep the West Indies total down to under 250, but when their batsmen came out, they were beaten by pace and bounce.

Jermaine Lawson made his World Cup debut and impressed. He bowled eight overs, conceded 16 runs and picked up two wickets, the dismissal of Odumbe (hit wicket) proving again that he is a genuine fast bowler. Mervyn Dillon and Vasbert Drakes operated with the new ball and made the Kenyan batsmen's life miserable.

The in-form Drakes struck regularly in 10-over spell and the wicket of David Obuya brought up his second five-wicket haul (also his best) in the competition. He was declared the Man of the Match. "The ball has come out of my hand pretty well all tournament. It would have been better if I had got this five-wicket (five for 33) haul last week. Then there could have been a chance of going through to the next stage."

The big win satisfied Hooper, but his team had to leave the competition at the midway stage, falling short by two points at least. The seven-batsman formula never really worked for the West Indies because it derived very little from the opening pair.

Their lack of form put immense pressure on Lara, who made a match-winning 116 against South Africa, but was not seen again in the same form. Finally, except for Drakes, no other bowler looked like taking wickets. Lawson who bowled at 154 kmph plus against Kenya was not given a chance before the last match and the blame for this should be laid at the door of Hooper.

The scores:

West Indies: C. Gayle c D. Obuya b Angara 119; S. Chanderpaul c Angara b C. Obuya 66; B. Lara c D. Obuya b Tikolo 10; M. Samuels c Patel b Odumbe 14; R. Powell c Otieno b Odumbe 8; C. Hooper st. Otieno b Angara 6; W. Hinds b Suji 10; R. Jacobs (not out) 9; V. Drakes (not out) 1; Extras (w-3) 3; Total (for seven wickets in 50 overs) 246.

Fall of wickets: 1-122, 2-158, 3-182, 4-196, 5-222, 6-224, 7-245.

Kenya bowling: Suji 10-1-38-1, Angara 7-0-53-2, Ongondo 5-0-17-0, Odumbe 10-0-62-2, C. Obuya 10-0-48-1, Tikolo 8-0-28-1.

Kenya: K. Otieno c Dillon b Drakes 3; R. Shah c Gayle b Dillon 12; B. Patel c Lara b Drakes 11; S. Tikolo lbw b Drakes 12; H. Modi c Jacobs b Drakes 0; M. Odumbe hit wkt. b Lawson 0; D. Obuya c Powell b Drakes 4; C. Obuya c Powell b Lawson 13; P. Ongondo b Powell 24; M. Suji c Chanderpaul b Hinds 13; J. Angara (not out) 0; Extras (lb-3, w-8, nb-1) 12; Total (in 35.5 overs) 104.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-26, 3-34, 4-34, 5-43, 6-43, 7-54, 8-62, 9-102.

West Indies bowling: Dillon 10-1-31-1, Drakes 10-2-33-5, Lawson 8-0-16-2, Powell 4-2-8-1, Chanderpaul 2-0-6-0, Hinds 1.5-0-7-1.