Bengaluru, April 25: It was the first match in a World Cup for Kenya. The occasion was huge and so were the opponents: India.
The two teams met at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha, and the date was February 18. As one of the three associate nations of the ICC to make their debut, Kenya were clearly the underdogs against a formidable Indian side in their den but the Africans did not surrender too easily even as the end result looked one-sided with Mohammad Azharuddin’s men registering a 7-wicket win.
Azharuddin won the toss and asked Maurice Odumbe’s side to bat first. There were some good starts but none of the batsmen carried on with it, excepting the talented Steve Tikolo who hit 65 in 83 balls. Anil Kumble (three wickets) and Venkatapathy Raju (two wickets) were the pick of the Indian bowlers and Kenya managed 199 for six in their 50 overs.
For a team that had barely played any big cricket coming into their maiden WC, the show was not too bad and that was against a big team like India.
Eyeing 200 to pick their first points in the tournament, Ajay Jadeja and Sachin Tendulkar opened the Indian innings and they had a cakewalk. The duo added 163 runs for the first wicket and it was Asif Karim, one of Kenya’s biggest names in cricket, who came third change to pick up Jadeja for 53 (85 balls).
However, the left-arm spinner, whose style resembles a service in tennis and that is because he has also played that game (in fact Karim has captained Kenya in Davis Cup), was more upset because he could not pick the more prized wicket of Tendulkar.
The Master Blaster was on 99 when he played an entire over of Karim but remained stranded, failing to pick that one single run. The second delivery of the over even went the closest to pick the batsman as it straightened and hit Tendulkar’s pads and the ball was caught at the silly mid-off. It was very very close for the Master to escape but the umpire felt he was not out and that’s what mattered the most.
Asif had no doubt whatsoever that Tendulkar was out and in an interview later, he had said that the Indian batsman should have simply walked out without even looking at the umpire.
But that was not to be and Tendulkar remained not out on 127, his first century in a World Cup, and India won handsomely with more than eight overs to spare.