Aussies look to extend glory run against Kenya


BANGALORE – Defending champions Australia can reach the World Cup quarter-finals with a victory over hapless Kenya on Sunday in what threatens to be one of the most lopsided matches of the tournament. Australia, unbeaten at the World Cup since 1999, have recorded dominant wins over Zimbabwe and New Zealand before rain washed out what promised to be their first major test of this competition, against Sri Lanka, last weekend.
One of the few things that appears to be standing in the way of another crushing display will be if they decide to alter the batting line-up so as to give their under-exposed middle order much needed match practice. There is set to be at least one change with Michael Hussey, a late replacement for injured fast bowler Doug Bollinger, having himself recovered from a hamstring problem, in line to play his first match of the tournament.
However, the experienced left-hander was taking nothing for granted. “I haven’t been given any indication if I am going to play or not,” said Hussey. “I’m just going to prepare as though I’m going to play. “If the team requires me to go at 20 an over that’s what I’ll try and do. If we need to stay there and win the game slowly that’s what I’ll try and do.” This may be Kenya’s fifth successive World Cup but it has so far been a desperately disappointing event for the 2003 semi-finalists. Hammered by New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, they then suffered an even more humbling five-wicket loss to fellow associates Canada on Monday.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has repeatedly questioned the worth of non-Test nations at the World Cup and has backed the ICC’s decision to reduce the 2015 edition to 10 teams from the present 14. Sunday’s match, where a win for Kenya would surpass Bangladesh’s shock victory in Cardiff in 2005 and at least equal Zimbabwe’s 1983 triumph at Trent Bridge in the annals of stunning Australia one-day defeats, seems certain to strengthen Ponting’s case.
And, in a further worry for Kenya, Australia fast bowler Brett Lee believes the champions have yet to hit top form in the subcontinent. “We still haven’t played our best cricket, but that’s encouraging for us because the way we’re going is a nice, slow incline,” he said.
“We’re peaking at the right time, I think.” If any match looks like being a good one for Australia to mix-up their batting order, it is surely this encounter and all-rounder Shane Watson said: “I suppose it could be like our match against Ireland in the 2007 World Cup when Mike Hussey opened the batting and Andrew Symonds batted at three to give him a chance of getting some time in the middle.”
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Cameron White, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Callum Ferguson.
Kenya: Jimmy Kamande (capt), Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, David Obuya, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Tanmay Mishra, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Shem Ngoche, James Ngoche. Umpires: Asad Rauf (PAK) and Richard Kettleborough (ENG), TV umpire: Billy Bowden (NZL), Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM), Match start: 0900GMT
Pitch conditions: Matches here between India and England and England and Ireland saw all four innings yield more than 300 runs each, cementing this ground’s reputation for being batsmen-friendly. But the relatively low-scoring game between India and Ireland showed the value of disciplined bowling.