WC 2003 - Kenya~~s hobbling heroes battle pain barrier

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2003, 1:53 [IST]
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Durban: Kenya is sweating on the fitness of its hobbling heroes ahead of Thursday's World Cup day-night semi-final against India here at Kingsmead."Maurice Odumbe is struggling with his thigh, Thomas Odoyo with his groin and Kennedy Otieno's elbow is still sore," said coach Sandeep Patil."Martin Suji's hamstrings are also sore and Steve Tikolo has only just recovered from tonsilitis."Veterans Odumbe (38 not out) and Odoyo (43 not out) saw Kenya home to its seven-wicket Super Six win over Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein last week, a victory which made sure the team became the first non-Test nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals.Both missed the 'dead' Super Six match against defending champions Australia here on Saturday - a match where wicket-keeper Otieno was struck a painful blow on the elbow in the process of being bowled by Brett Lee.However, Patil - a World Cup winner as a player with India in 1983 - revealed that several of his veterans had played hurt before."I'm so proud of these boys. Against Zimbabwe they weren't fit. But they played and never complained."Despite Kenya's shock success, Tikolo insisted the pressure of the occasion had still to get to him."I'm not really nervous. It's another game of cricket, a battle between bat and ball," he said.Kenya lost its Super Six match against India in Cape Town on March 7 by six wickets, but Tikolo, when asked about what positives they could take from that game, replied, "The way the guys batted to get to 225 and the way we bowled to get them to 24 for three."And Patil, who is due to leave Kenya when his contract expires after the World Cup, said his side's resolve had been a key factor throughout the tournament."The players have shown a lot of character which is so important at this level. "Against Australia, we were three for three and we came back."That just hasn't happened in one game, it's happened all the way through."Tikolo made an impressive 51 against the Aussies, his best score of the tournament."At no stage did I feel I'd lost my form. I was hitting the ball well in the nets. It was poor shot selection I was getting out to. That fifty gave me a lot of confidence."Also giving Kenya a boost was the news that players' wives and girlfriends had been granted visas to attend the match. "Our families have supported us through and through," Tikolo said."It's nice for them to have gotten the visas."Copyright AFP 2001

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