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?Strength of character gives Aussies the edge?

Kenya had entered the 2003 World Cup as co-hosts. And the team has provided an odd surprise, to give the brew of world cricket a distinctive tang.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 00:57 IST

Kenya had entered the 2003 World Cup as co-hosts and a team that has provided the odd surprise, to give the brew of world cricket a distinctive tang.

They were there to make up the numbers, give a good fight or two, and then lose heroically, handing victories to South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, so that these three sides could campaign for greater things.

As the dust settles on the long embattled road of this championship, we get to see the South African wreck way back, burnt in its own arrogance and ignorance.

New Zealand also lie on the way, the price of giving away those four points to Kenya costing them dear, while Sri Lanka too are gone, decimated by Kenya, India and Australia, the ultimate finalists.

Kenya's dream run had to end. While there is no denying that they did a great job in making it to the semi-finals, it would only be fair that Australia and India, the two best sides in the tournament, should play the World Cup final. Kenya went down to India at Durban, beaten but not disgraced. They left with heads high, surpassing all expectations. Skipper Steve Tikolo was relieved and happy to have made it so far.

"Now that it's all over, I think I feel relieved," Tikolo told the press after the match. "There has been a lot of pressure for a month now, and I think we did well under all the pressure."

Kenya played the two finalists in their last two games, and was asked to compare the two sides.

"Australia and India are the two top teams in the one-day game, and how the final goes will depend on who plays well on that particular day. But I'd personally go for Australia. It's just the way they have played here. They have had some close games and came through them, and their strength of character gives them an edge."

Tikolo said India's assault in the last 10 overs, when they netted nearly 80 runs, took Thursday's match away from Kenya. "Yes, they did get away in the last 10 overs, as they had wickets in hand and the opportunity to accelerate. I think what decided the match was the way the Indians batted at the death, and the fact that we didn't get off to a start. We lost wickets at regular intervals, we just couldn't get the momentum going.

"The surface played slow to start with, with the ball not coming on when the Indians batted. But when they bowled, it was really zipping through. I don't know, perhaps the dew had something to do with it."

Asked which of the victories - Kenya had beaten Test-playing nations Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe - was the best, Tikolo said: "I think... obviously, the win against Sri Lanka in Nairobi stands out."

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 00:57 IST