England cruised into the Super Eights with a seven-wicket win over Kenya in St Lucia as Ed Joyce and Kevin Pietersen made light work of the run chase through a stand of 103. Joyce struck his second half-century of the World Cup while Pietersen enjoyed an extended net against the gentle Kenyan attack. Steve Tikolo had been the only one to stand up to England’s bowlers as the pacemen put in a strong effort.
Michael Vaughan had been more than happy by Tikolo’s decision to bat after a two-hour delay, due to heavy morning rain, reduced the contest to 43 overs per side. Being in the field first allowed England to settle any early nerves and overall this was a very competent performance in the manner the team needed. James Anderson struck with the new ball, Andrew Flintoff was fiery on his return to the ranks and Paul Collingwood’s medium-pace wobblers were productive.
Ideally, chasing 178, England would have wanted a nice confident start from Joyce and Vaughan. But Kenya bowled tightly with the new ball, Peter Ongondo extracting some tennis ball bounce to undo Vaughan for just 1. Collins Obuya made excellent ground to his right, dived and held an impressive catch to complete another failure for the England captain.
Joyce, though, was quickly into his stride and showed excellent timing. He waited for the ball and worked the gaps on both sides of the wicket, while also remaining aware to punish the loose balls. His cover driving was in fine order and a Graham Thorpe-style pull shot was also in evidence.
Ian Bell made a steady start, keen to use his feet to the medium-pacers, but after doing the hard work lazily lofted a drive to mid off as Thomas Odoyo was rewarded for a persevering spell. But Joyce latched onto Lameck Onyango, cracking him off the back foot before swivelling onto a pull which went into the stand at deep square-leg, to keep the innings on track.
Pietersen imposed himself immediately with an elegant straight drive off his first ball, but Kenya missed a chance to keep themselves in the match when he edged Hiren Varaiya’s first ball only to watch Maurice Ouma shell the chance. From then on it was one-way traffic as Pietersen used his innings as a useful sighter ahead of the next stage and Joyce went to a calm 62-ball fifty. Pietersen’s half-century took 54 deliveries and included a glimpse of some of his power and craft as he milked the spinners. When Joyce was bowled by Tikolo’s doosra England were home and hosed and completed the job with 10 overs to spare.
Kenya appeared to hand themselves a disadvantage when they batted first and Anderson exploited the early conditions to remove both openers in his first spell. Tikolo responded with a rush of boundaries - some off the middle and others the edge - and Kenya’s run rate remained a healthy four-an-over.
But Sajid Mahmood struck with a well-disguised slower ball to remove Tony Suji and Tanmay Mishra dragged Collingwood into his stumps as the innings stumbled to 74 for 4. With his main men back in the pavilion the onus was on Tikolo to carry the innings, and his fifty came off 58 balls. But he continued to lose partners at the other end and had a hand in Obyua’s run out when, after playing a sweep against Monty Panesar, he was more interested in the appeal rather than Obuya racing up the pitch. By the time Tikolo sent him back it was too late and a furious Obuya trudged back to the pavilion.
Flintoff finally got his first wicket of the tournament when he trapped Odoyo in front, although his shout was so half-hearted it nearly passed everyone by. He could have had a second next ball but Jimmy Kamande escaped a close lbw shout. All the while Tikolo soldiered on, was dropped on 52 by Joyce at mid on, and showed his class with a couple of late deflections and deft sweeps off Panesar. He was eventually cleaned-up by Flintoff, who produced a rapid yorker and offered Tikolo a pat on the back, while England’s late-innings bowling and fielding was on target.
It wasn’t a faultless performance from England but after a week to sweat on this match they’ll just be glad to have come through unscathed. Next up is the home nations clash with Ireland; what a day that promises to be in Guyana.
Source:Cricket WorldcupMore on:Ed Joyce, england, Kenya, Kevin Pietersen
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