New Zealand had few problems securing their place in the next stage as they gave Kenya a reality check with a 148-run victory in St Lucia. An injury-hit Ross Taylor struck an elegant 85 and Craig McMillan a brutal 48-ball 71, as the Kiwis compiled their highest World Cup total. Kenya’s top order then fell in a heap and Ravi Shah’s determined 71 only delayed the inevitable.
With a view to the greater challenges ahead this was a useful workout for New Zealand. Four attacking half-centuries ensured the sixes tally cruised into double figures as the ball flew over the rope - and often into the stands - 12 times, McMillan responsible for five as his resurgence in form continued.
Two early wickets for Michael Mason, recalled in place of Jeetan Patel, and some shambolic running from Kenya meant the match ended as a contest early in the chase. The only difficulty New Zealand encountered was reaching the 20-over mark between the showers meaning McMillan and Daniel Vettori were used to race through a few overs.
When Lou Vincent’s poor start to World Cup continued with a fourth-ball duck it appeared New Zealand would be tested. But Kenya’s bowlers, who maintained such impressive pressure against the more placid Canadians, were harshly shown up as the military medium-pace and varying styles of spin were all treated with equal force. However, what will be more disappointing for the coach, Roger Harper, is the poor standard of fielding; at least four catches (not all easy) were shelled while Maurice Ouma was poor with the gloves.
But New Zealand gave a lesson in how to deal with a potential banana-skin fixture - aggression. Fleming benefited from a series of long hops, pulling into the stands between square leg and long leg on three occasions, his footwork improving in a 53-ball half-century. After negotiating the early movement Taylor, too, became more expansive although he survived a tough chance to Tanmay Mishra at midwicket on 5 - the first of Kenya’s fielding fumbles.
Kenya’s attack was toothless and second wicket came from an aberration by Fleming; Taylor knocked the ball direct to short fine-leg, the captain thought there was a run but he didn’t get within a bat length of the crease. Scott Styris quickly showed the confidence gained from his match-winning effort against England. Kenya again let themselves down, this time Jimmy Kamande dropping a simple chance at midwicket with Styris on 19.
The third-wicket stand with Taylor was coursing along, Taylor’s half-century arriving off 80 balls, and Kenya quickly resembled a club side - not a true reflection of their ability. But Taylor, who’d bounced back after his opening duck against England, was then struck by the hamstring injury. He resumed with Vincent as a runner, but it was later confirmed as a strain. The injury hampered his movement and after one more crunching six over midwicket he popped a gentle catch back to Tikolo.
There was never likely to be a let-up in boundaries and McMillan swung merrily from the off as his sixes count started off the 12th ball. Styris continued to unleash the long handle approach, fifty coming off 56 balls before one attempt to clear long on was taken by Mishra. Thomas Odoyo had a moment of personal joy when he bowled Jacob Oram for his 100th ODI wicket, but McMillan’s striking carried the total well over 300.
Kenya never had a real chance of making the runs, but their batsmen could have taken the opportunity to show their wares. Instead they were four down within 12 overs; David Obuya was beaten by Mason’s yorker, Ouma chanced a single to Vincent, Tikolo pulled to mid on and Mishra fended at James Franklin, the catch taken as it rebounded off Brendon McCullum’s glove.
Shah could have gone at any point in his first 20 runs - more than once to a run out - but he slowly became more fluent and unfurled some classy strokes, including a lofted drive for six off McMillan, as his half-century came off 63 balls. Kenya’s first World Cup century was coming within view, but he chipped a return catch to hand Vettori just his third World Cup wicket.
The margin of defeat did no favours to Kenya’s net run-rate, which has now slipped below England’s. However, unless there are two days of rain in St Lucia the final Group C clash will be winner takes all. Based on this effort it shouldn’t be close. New Zealand, meanwhile, can watch on comfortably and think of the Super Eights.
Source:Cricket WorldcupMore on:Craig McMillan, Kenya, New Zealand, Ravi Shah, Ross Taylor, Stephen Fleming, World Cup
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