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Canada cruised to their first win of the ICC Cricket World Cup, beating Kenya by 5 wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on Monday. While neither of these teams are expected to challenge for honours at the tournament, the winner of this clash was practically guaranteed not to finish bottom of Group A, sufficient incentive for both teams to come out and give it their best shot. Canada has had the better of the Kenyans in the recent past and that little bit of class that they have shown right through the World Cup with the ball allowed them to emerge victorious once again. An inspired performance from fast bowler Henry Osinde helped knock over the Kenyan top order cheaply and allowed Canada to bowl them out for just 198 in their 50 overs. Canada's batting has been woeful right through the World Cup, but half centuries from captain Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra took them to a comfortable win.
Kenya won the toss and decided to bat on a typical Feroz Shah Kotla pitch which was expected to turn and stay low. But they had another horror start with Henry Osinde striking in the 1st over itself, getting the wicket of Maurice Ouma who tried to leave an out-swinger but didn't decide in time and played the ball into the hands of Harvir Baidwan at second slip. Kenya had another circumspect start as they tended to play out maiden overs rather than risk losing wickets. But Osinde struck again getting rid of the other opener, Seren Waters for 2. Kenya continued to struggle as Osinde got his third in the form of David Obuya, who had scored a half century against Sri Lanka but managed just 2 today. It was up to his brother Collins Obuya and veteran Steve Tikolo to get Kenya out of trouble. Obuya had looked good before he was bowled by Baidwan in the 12th over for 31. Kenya had just 41 runs on board and it looked like another collapse was on the cards.
The situation became worse with the departure of Steve Tikolo for 12. The former skipper was out leg before wicket to Rizwan Cheema. His decision to refer failed to change the outcome and Kenya were in deep trouble at 57 for 5.
But Tanmay Mishra and captain Jimmy Kamande took Kenya past 100 as there seemed to be a glimmer of hope. Balaji Rao finally broke the partnership by picking up the wicket of Kamande for 22. Thomas Odoyo joined Mishra in pursuit of setting a respectable total. Another partnership sprung up for Kenya and things started to look good as they reached 150 in the 40th over. But the partnership ended just after Mishra reached his half century as he tried to play an expansive stroke off John Davison. Osinde came back to knock over Nehemiah Odhiambo with a brilliant yorker. Kenya managed to reach 198 with Odoyo scoring a vital 51 off 62 balls. Odoyo was the last man dismissed, comprehensively bowled by Baidwan off the last ball of the innings.
Canada appeared happy to have kept Kenya below 200 and once again it was over to their batsmen to fire, having failed to chase down Pakistan's 184 just a few days back in Sri Lanka. They ventured out with a new opening pair with the hard hitting Rizwan Cheema opening the batting ahead of young Nitish Kumar, who was benched for this game.
Cheema survived a tight decision on the second ball of the innings with the aid of DRS, but the Kenyans were able to get rid of him early as he was too aggresive and was bowled by Elijah Otieno after he had hit a six and four earlier in the over. Zubin Surkari joined Ruvindu Gunasekera in the middle and the scoring rate started rapidly decelerating. Kenya cashed in on the pressure created as Surkari tried to steal a non-existent single and was run-out by Jimmy Kamande.
Captain Bagai was in next and it was time for him to play an innings of substance. Canada though slid to 48/3 when Gunasekera jumped down the pitch and was stumped off the bowling of James Ngoche. Jimmy Hansra came out to replace Gunasekera and was dropped on the third ball he faced by Seren Waters at mid-on. It was a sitter, and it cost Kenya the match.
In collaboration with his skipper, Hansra got an excellent partnership going, driving handsomely through the covers and hitting the spinners back over their head. The batsmen looked determined to take Canada home and took the score on to 100 in the 25th over.
Hansra was playing aggressively as he got the odd boundary on a regular basis, but his captain looked a bit sluggish. Hansra reached his maiden half century and couldn't hide his delight. Both batsmen were now easing away to the target as Canada reached 150 in the 38th over. As the target appeared to be shrinking, Bagai started finding some form and go to his half-century with a four through wide long-on. Hansra gave away his chance to see his team home as he was caught at mid-on when on 70, and though Canada also lost the wicket of Tyson Gordon a couple of overs later, a calm Ashish Bagai saw Canada to the target with plenty of time to spare.
It was an outstanding team effort by the Canadians as their batsmen finally backed up their excellent bowling unit, and they will hope to take that confidence into their game with New Zealand this Sunday at the Wankhede Stadium. New Zealand have been the proverbial minnow bullys and Canada will need to be careful that they do not suffer the same fate as Kenya and Zimbabwe. Kenya's World Cup campaign is drawing to a close, and they have to contend with the might of Australia next, a frightening prospect, also on Sunday.
Canada: John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Ashish Bagai (wk/c), Zubin Surkari, Rizwan Cheema, Jimmy Hansra, Tyson Gordon, Henry Osinde, Harvir Baidwan, Balaji Rao, Parth Desai
Kenya: Maurice Ouma (wk), Seren Waters, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, David Obuya, Tanmay Mishra, Thomas Odoyo, Jimmy Kamande (c), Nehemiah Odhiambo, James Ngoche, Elijah Otieno
Kenya 198 all out in 50 overs (3.96 runs per over)
T Odoyo 51(62) H Osinde 4-26
T Mishra 51(73) R Cheema 2-30
Canada 199/5 in 45.3 overs (4.37 runs per over)
Jimmy Hansra 70(99) N Odhiambo 2-45
A Bagai 64*(77) J Ngoche 1-26
Canada win by 5 wickets with 27 balls remaining
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