In a battle of the minnows, 2003 semifinalists Kenya face Canada in their opening match in Group C at the Beausejour stadium in St Kitts.
Kenya have ruffled many feathers in previous world cups, upsetting the West Indies in 1996 in Pune and reaching the semifinals of the 2003 event in Africa, where they ultimately lost to India. They hosted and won the World Cricket League by beating Scotland, a few weeks before the world cup, so you could say that they are the best among the non test playing nations. They ran the Windies close in their first warm up match, eventually losing by 21 runs. They beat the Netherlands by 9 runs in their other warm up game. The Kenyans have an astute leader in Steve Tikolo, who is also their best batsman by a long, long way. Collins Obuya, their leg spinning sensation at the 2003 world cup, now plays as a batsman. If Ravindu Shah gets his eye, he could difficult to dismiss. Tanmay Mishra has tons of potential and can take the bowling by the horns, but he hasn’t been able to perform consistently in recent times. They have an excellent all rounder in Thomas Odoyo, who is equally competent with both bat and ball. They have a decent bowling line up with the likes of Peter Ongondo, Jimmy Kamande and Odoyo, with Tikolo and Hiten Varaiya giving support.
Canada made their debut in the 1979 world cup, where they were shot out for the then lowest score against England. At the 2003 world cup, they did show some spirit, and captain John Davison won plenty of hearts with his style of play. Davison has an ODI century against the Windies to his credit. The Canadians will hope to put up a decent show this time too, and for that they will need to work as a team. They need Barnett and Samad to give them a solid start, and will hope that the likes of Davison, Qaiser Ali and Mulla can capitalise on it. Canada have Anderson Cummins, a 40 year old veteran who has played for the West Indies before. If he plays, he joins Kepler Wessels as the only other player to appear for two countries in a world cup. Their bowling isn’t very great. Canada lost to Ireland and Pakistan in their two warm up games leading to this event.
The winner of this game will need just another win to progress to the super eight. Winning against England or New Zealand is easier said than done, but the two teams must take their first step in this game. I think Kenya should win this, although you can’t really predict anything in a one off between minnows. Tikolo and Odoyo will be key figures, and I fancy Varaiya to take a few wickets too.