Kiwis destroy Kenya in Group A opener
The World Cup got its first early finish as New Zealand pulverized Kenya in Chennai in a match that lasted just 31 overs on Sunday.
The game was over as a contest once the Black Caps had dismissed Kenya for a mere 69 on a wicket with a reasonable wicket.
The Kiwis needed just eight overs to chase down their target, and did so without loss.
New Zealand will face much tougher challenges in this World Cup, starting with Australia on Friday, but they’ll go into those with confidence after a faultless display against a team that’s caused trouble for test-playing sides in the past.
Their spinners were inexpensive, their fast bowlers took wickets relentlessly and their openers looked completely comfortable in getting to their target of 70 without a scare. They really could not have hoped to improve on their display.
Kenya, on the other hand, need to work on everything. And that includes their use of the review system. Although it made no difference to the result, their referrals while batting were not well judged and they could have survived a little longer.
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori gave the new ball to spinner Nathan McCullum after his side was put in to field, but it was their fast bowlers who caused all the havoc and embarrassed the Kenyans with some simple, straight, full bowling.
Hamish Bennett destroyed the top order with four wickets, while Tim Southee and Jacob Oram grabbed three each.
Southee was left without the chance to record a hat-trick after taking the eighth and ninth Kenyan wickets off the last two balls of what turned out to be the penultimate over.
Oram then had to apologise to his teammate for wrapping up the innings an over too early!
The fact that things got so farcical was down largely to the good work done by Southee and Bennett early on.
Southee made the initial breakthrough when he got rid of Alex Obanda LBW in the seventh over.
Then came a remarkable burst from Bennett, who took four wickets in the space of as many overs to leave Kenya 49/5.
Straight, fast bowling on a wicket with some variable bounce did the trick for Bennett, whose burst included three LBWs. He also dismantled the stumps of veteran Steve Tikolo.
Despite their giant-killing feats of the past, Kenya were never likely to recover from 49/5, and it was just eight further overs before they were all back in the hut.
Oram and Southee cleaned up the lower order, with the only disappointment being Southee’s missed hat-trick opportunity.
Bennett finished with 4/16 in five overs, Southee with 3/13 in six and Oram with a remarkable 3/2 in 2.5 overs.
Bennett earned the Man of the Match award for his efforts, and paid tribute to bowling coach Allan Donald for his input.
“AD has been pretty tough on us especially after we lost our warm-up game to India.
“We’ve been working pretty hard with him and it’s coming off.
“On these surfaces you’ve got to be able to have the yorker on demand and we’ve been working pretty hard on that as a bowling unit.”
The early finish to the Kenyan innings meant just a ten-minute interval was taken instead of a full lunch break.
Martin Guptill dominated the chase with some powerful hitting straight back past the bowlers. At one point it looked like he might make 50 before New Zealand reached their target of 70, but his opening partner Brendon McCullum eventually got in on the act himself and hit the winning runs with a well-played reverse sweep.
Guptill finished with 39 and McCullum with 26.
Kenya’s next assignment is against Pakistan on Wednesday. The good news for them is that things can only get better.
Kenya: Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo (capt), Maurice Ouma (wk), Rakep Patel, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odihambo, Shem Ngoche, Elijah Otieno
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (wk), Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, James Franklin, Scott Styris, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori (capt), Hamish Bennett, Tim Southee