India looks to make maximum vs Kenya

Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2001, 2:01 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: The way it inflicted a 10-wicket defeat on Kenya in the previous game, Wednesday's match against the same opponents Port Elizabeth in the triangular One-day series should be no more than a practice game for the Indians who are on a high after two convincing victories in the tournament.Despite a marked improvement in their performance against South Africa on Sunday, the Kenyans would need something close to a miracle to upstage India on Wednesday, especially since their captain Maurice Odumbe was on Tuesday suspended for two matches. Odumbe's suspension by match referee Ahmed Ebrahim of Zimbabwe was a result of the Kenyan captain's outbursts against umpire Dave Orchard after the nine-wicket defeat to South Africa in Kimberly on Sunday. Odumbe had referred to Orchard as, "One gentleman out there who was not friendly towards us." His suspension means Kenya, which has lost all its three matches in the tournament so far, will be without one of its batting mainstays who had top scored with 60 in the previous match. And though captain Saurav Ganguly sounded the customary, "We are not taking Kenya lightly," the fact remains that the Indians would take this opportunity to give its reserve players the much needed match practice ahead of sterner battles against South Africa. Ganguly confirmed that Punjab all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Railways paceman Harvinder Singh, two players who have not got a single game on this tour so far, would play in Wednesday's match, as would Venkatesh Prasad and Jacob Martin. Prasad and Martin figured in one match each but while the Karnataka medium pacer took a hammering from South African batsmen in the opening match in Johannesburg, Martin did not get a chance to bat in the 10-wicket defeat of Kenya at Bloemfontein. "We would give everyone a chance," Ganguly said after the team's practice session at the St George's Park on Tuesday. "It means Prasad, Sodhi, Harvinder Singh and Jacob Martin would all play." But he could name just two players to be left out of Wednesday's game and that did not include Virender Sehwag, whom he had on Monday named as the person to be rested. "As of now we are still sorting that out. But both Tendulkar and I would play. What is certain that Ajit Agarkar and Javagal Srinath would not be playing on Wednesday," Ganguly said. Yuvraj Singh, who is still to fully recover from a viral fever, is another player who can be left out. With the trio of Ganguly, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, all of them in good nick, and playing on Wednesday, the Indians should not have many worries in their batting department. Sodhi and Martin are no novices with the bat and wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta has also shown good skill and temperament as a batsman. The last two matches have proved the effectiveness of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh on these pitches. They are certain to play on Wednesday and would give the greatest headache to the Kenyans. Harvinder Singh has a nice action and brisk pace and he would be out to make an impression to cement his place in the side. During his short international career, Harvinder has been slightly inconsistent and it is this tag that the young fast bowler would be keen to do away with. Prasad too has a point to prove and he will surely like to silence his critics who have started talking about the end of his career. Even with the changes, the odds are heavily tilted in favour of India and while it would be too much to expect Kenya to pull off a victory on Wednesday, it would do well to put up a competitive display and further improve on its performance. The Indians once again have an opportunity to pick up a bonus point though Ganguly said he was mainly concerned with winning the match. "We have played some good cricket in the last few weeks. But it would be too early to predict anything in this game," he said. The Kenyans have shown some talent in their batting, especially in their previous game where three of their players scored half centuries. In the absence of Odumbe, Steve Tikolo, one of the most experienced campaigners, would have to share a major burden of scoring runs. It was good to see Ravindu Shah and Thomas Odoyo display attacking batting against the high class pace bowling of the South Africans and Kenya would require a similar, if not better, performance from them against India on Wednesday. The Kenyans have lost early wickets in all their matches so far and this is one area they will have to work on. Bowling is another area of concern for the Kenyans. Their spinners like Collins Obuya and Brijal Patel have done far better than the medium- pacers and it would not be surprising if they go into Wednesday's game with a predominantly spin attack. Kenya's relatively good performance against South Africa has raised the interest in Wednesday's day-night match with more than 5000 tickets having already been sold - a marked improvement from the last match between the two teams at Bloemfontein where the spectators could literally be counted on fingers. Port Elizabeth is reputedly a sports-friendly city and spectators turn out in large numbers for any contest - a reason why it has been given a chance to host a semi- final of the 2003 World Cup. The wicket has a bit of grass on it but the Indians were more concerned about the bumpy outfield at the St George's Park. The outfield really looks rough and it would not be to the liking of the fielders standing in the deep. Teams (from): India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacob Martin, Yuvraj Singh, Shiv Sunder Das, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Deep Dasgupta (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh. Kenya: Steve Tikolo, Martin Suji, Kennedy Otieno, Hitesh Modi, Ravindu Shah, Thomas Odoyo, Tony Suji, Lameck Onyango, Mohammed Sheikh, Jimmy Kamande, Peter Ocheing, Josephat Ababu, Colliens Otieno. Extras:
Odumbe's outburst lands him in soup
Prasad, Das may get one more chance
Sodhi, Harvinder to play in next tie

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