WC 2003 - ~~Both are good but the Aussies have the edge~~
Published: Friday, March 21, 2003, 20:40 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Johannesburg: Kenya captain Steve Tikolo backed reigning champion Australia to beat India in Sunday's World Cup final at the Wanderers."They are the top two teams in One-day cricket. On any day one could win but I'll go with Australia. They've had some close calls and come through. The character they've shown on the field gives them an edge," Tikolo said.Kenya's progress has been beyond all expectations and Tikolo, when asked how he felt now his tournament was over, replied, "A bit relieved. There's been a lot of pressure at this tournament and the boys have handled the pressure pretty well."The East Africans are due to lose inspirational coach Sandeep Patil a World Cup winner as a player with India back in 1983 - who is returning home now that his four-year contract has ended.Veteran left-arm spinner Asif Karim, 39, who took three wickets for seven runs against Australia, is also set to step out of the limelight having come out of retirement for this World Cup.But Tikolo said he did not know if the team would be losing any of its other old-stagers. "I really don't know about retirements. It depends on the individual. But we have got some youngsters who I'd like to see come through," he said.Tikolo admitted the crushing scale of Kenya's semi-final defeat had been disappointing, saying the climax of the Indian innings - where opposing skipper Saurav Ganguly made an unbeaten 111 - had been crucial."The way the Indians batted to get nearly 90 runs in the last 10 overs made a big difference. When we batted we didn't get the start we wanted and lost wickets regularly."Tikolo said the highlight of his World Cup had been Kenya's shock 53-run group win over 1996 champion Sri Lanka in Nairobi on February 24. "That really stands out."And Tikolo admitted coming down to earth after such success would be difficult. "It will be hard to adjust. There's been a lot of hype. We'll take a month off and regroup."