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WC 2003 - Indians not to take it easy against giant-killer Kenya

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Cape Town: India is looking at its first Super Six match against Kenya on Thursday with guarded optimism, well aware that any slip-up will be lapped up by its eager opponent which has a history of pulling the rug from underhigher rated teams. It is a travesty of sorts that Kenya is in the Super Sixes, the first non-Test nation to have proceeded so far in the premier event, and have more points than heavyweights India.Kenya carries forward 10 points from the league round and is placed as the second top team from Group 'B' behind Sri Lanka. India is second in Group 'A' and carries eight points into the second round.Thanks to complicated system, it has emerged that Kenya can make it to the semi-finals without even a single win in the Super Sixes and it means India will have to take its day-night match on Friday with all the seriousness that it can muster.India has not forgotten the 70-run upset defeat at the hands of the same team in a tri-series in South Africa in 2001 and that memory was rekindled when Kenya used its giant-killing skills to defeat Asian powerhouses Sri Lankaearlier in this tournament.It was only expected of Indian coach John Wright to ring the caution bell for his team which has staged a remarkable comeback to once again count among the favourites to lift the Cup.After an unimpressive show against Holland and a nine-wicket drubbing by Australia, India scored convincing victories against Zimbabwe, Namibia and England before a satiating morale-boosting win against arch-rivals Pakistan.Wright said it was important that India performed with the same intensity against Kenya too. "We have been out of a fairly tough group and each gameafter Australia has been pressure-type game for us. But I would not encourage any difference only because it is Kenya. We must take one game at a time," he said. Wright also cited India's defeat in Port Elizabeth in 2001 to drive home the point that the rivals could not be taken lightly. "When we last played it we beat it in two games but then it got the better of us in Port Elizabeth, so we have to be careful," he said. India's batting finally looks settled and the injury scare to swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag was also allayed after a scan revealed no fracture in his index finger.The swelling purists and media manager Amrit Mathur said a decision on his availability for the match will only be taken on Friday morning. With Sachin Tendulkar on a song, India's worries in the batting department seem to have evaporated the form of Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid adding further stability to the order.Tendulkar suffered from acute cramps during his ethereal knock against Pakistan but is expected to be fit in time for the match. So confident was Wright of his batsmen coming good in the match that he said it would not matter whether the side batted first or under lights. "Whether we bat first or second we have the batting to do the job," he said.It is true that Kenya, coached by one of India's own Sandeep Patil will have to conjure something special if they are to stop the Indian batting juggernaut.The slow medium pacers have troubled the Indians in the past and if they want to make a match of it Kenya will have to restrict the rival batsmen. Patil, a member of India's World Cup winning squad in 1983, dismissed suggestions that there would be mixed feelings when the teams face off at the Newlands Stadium."As a professional, I'll have to give it my best shot. However, everyone knows India is a much superior side. We have already achieved what we set out to do. It's a huge thing for Kenya to have entered the second round."But Patil was not ready to rest on the laurels and said his boys will go all out for a win. "The important thing is to do our best. We will be positive and I'm hoping our batsmen are consistent." Kenya's opening bat Kennedy Otieno looked in fine nick against Sri Lanka scoring a fine 60 while Hitesh Modi and Maurice Odumbe chipped in with fine cameos in the middle. The trio will need to fire once again after coming a cropper against West Indies in its last league match in which it was crushed by a huge 142-run margin.Kenyan skipper Steve Tikolo will also have to lead by example, having had a non-impressive show with the bat so far. Rival skipper Saurav Ganguly knows that just one victory may be enough for his team to make it to the semi-finals and the match on Friday offers the opportunity to grab that win. The match also offers the opportunity for Ganguly to be among runs again. Though he scored a century against Namibia, he failed in India's subsequent matches including a first-ball duck against Pakistan.Ganguly should not have any troubles against a Kenyan attack which is mediocre at best but the India skipper admitted he was not taking them lightly."There is still a lot of work to be done. We don't want to be caught napping," he said. Teams (from): India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh,Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif.Kenya: Steve Tikolo (captain), Maurice Odumbe, Asif Karim,Alpesh Vadher, Ravindu Shah, Hitesh Modi, Brijal Patel, Martin Suji, Tony Suji, Thomas Odoyo, Kennedy Otieno, Joseph Angara, Peter Ongondo, David Obuya and Collins Obuya.Umpires: Daryl Harper (Australia) and Peter Willey (England). TV umpire: Simon Taufel (Australia). Match referee: Wasim Raja (Pakistan).PTI

Extras:
Indians mull over a venue shift for Durban semi-final
Sehwag injures index finger, X-rays reveal no fracture
I am comfortable at number four position, says Kaif
We must keep our feet on the ground: Coach Wright
Team will try its best to win World Cup, vows Ganguly

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