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Kenya's best not enough

Collins Obuya inspires a fighting show against the defending champs Australia. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports. Scorecard | When Punter became the hunted

cricket Updated: Mar 14, 2011 02:04 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

Their first 300-plus total of this World Cup and a comprehensive 60-run win despite a fighting 98 not out from Collins Obuya, Australia got the job done against Kenya here on Sunday.

Obuya's knock, though, was a remarkable feat from someone who started out as a leg-spinner, good enough to have taken five wickets in a World Cup match in 2003. However, following a bout of yips, a condition that makes it difficult for bowlers to release the ball at the end of their action, he turned into a top-order batsman and came up with his highest ODI score batting at No. 3.

The biggest positive for the defending champions was the fifth-wicket partnership between Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey, which first steadied the innings after three wickets fell for 16 runs and then took the total to 324/6 and beyond Kenya's reach.

Coming in for brother David, Mike Hussey showed he has completely recovered from the hamstring injury that had threatened to end his World Cup dream until Doug Bollinger limped home. He and Clarke found gaps at will, put away the bad deliveries without fuss and ran brilliantly. They never slogged, but still scored at more than a run a ball.

Hussey later ran out David Obuya to further prove his fitness. Australia will need his supple wrists, big shots and cool head in the business end of the tournament.

Skipper's lean patch
Ponting's own form at the pivotal No. 3 has been a concern. Coming into the tournament on the back of a finger injury sustained during the Ashes humiliation, Ponting got a couple of fifties in the warm-up games. But in the matches that count, he has failed to get a big score in three attempts and hasn't got out to a good ball yet (see box).

Australia will hope his run of bad luck ends before the knockout stage begins.

Spin problem
Ponting was asked before the match why Australia have not used spin in the Powerplays while most other teams have done so with some success.

Ponting said it was because the three fast bowlers were his best wicket-taking options.

"But as the tournament goes on and we start playing on wickets that will spin more, there is no reason why we won't use spinners in Powerplays," he added.

The skipper did introduce Steven Smith in the bowling Powerplay on Sunday but the way Tanmay Mishra and then Collins Obuya attacked him would not have done the young leg-spinner's confidence much good. Offie Jason Krejza did better, but Australia missed a second spinner as they struggled to take wickets.