In another amazing feat of scheduling where teams like Australia are waiting between six and eight days to play a match at the ICC World Cup, The Rest of the World (badged as Canada) defeated Kenya last night in the only World Cup game being played anywhere on the sub continent. Of course, there was a semi final of Deodhar Trophy, the main domestic 50 over competition in India being played on the same day but surely the WC organisers wouldn't have scheduled around that?
The Canadians are an eclectic bunch, with John "Davo" Davison the only home grown product in their team. Davison scored what was then the fastest hundred in World Cup games in 2003, a 67 ball effort against the West Indies. He was also an early member of the Australian Cricket Academy and former South Australian and Victorian player, mostly known for his off breaks and extravagant hitting. He's a former Canadian captain and at 40, is the grand old man of the team. The rest are mainly Indians, with Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and even a West Indian in the mix.
Against that, Kenya compete with almost all home grown products with the exception of Tanmay Mishra who took his first screaming breath in Mumbai. Its a noble thing the Kenyans doing in fielding a team with such a strong place of origin presentation and one of the features which should be of greater highlight in this World Cup. In fact, given the great growth in Africa as parts of it slowly emerge and show themselves to the world, the argument for the inclusion of so called minnows is compelling for them alone. Mike Connolly, a fellow student of cricket history and a good judge of its future, believes strongly in money and time being invested in Africa if the game is going to grow beyond its traditional Puka Sahib and slave establishment lines.
Kenya batted first and scored what was once a highly competitive total. Having just read Greg Chappell's review of the controversial 1980-81 season, it was amusing to hear his assessment that international captains would always be content to score 200 in a ODI. How things have changed! Kenya's effort was particularly good because the innings featured the same batting collapse other games have produced, being 3-21 in the 7th over and then 6-109 in the 30th but here a rescue by Mishra and Odoyo gave them a competitive total. Both deservedly made half centuries. Henry Osinde a big, bustling quick born in Uganda created havoc among the top order and finished with 4-26.
Early doors, Canada wore the wobbly boot as Cheema took the last of several big heaves across the line and Otieno took his leg stump. Surkari had looked as though he was digging in to do a job before he pushed to the leg side and came up short in the scamper as Kurmande swooped in and hit the stumps at the bowlers end. When Gunasekera was stumped two overs later, Canada were in danger at 3-48. From here, the Skipper Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra took control with measured batting determined to secure the victory. There was very little that was flashy, just steady, sensible batting as both raised half centuries. The energetic Nehemiah Odhiambo returned to rattle Canada late in the game with two wickets, but Bagai stood solid and struck the winning boundary with the John Davison rushing to celebrate with him from the other end.