Like a phoenix from the Ashes, Pakistan has overcome the tumult of a string of controversies and set-backs last year, to enter this World Cup on a more positive footing. However, Kenya has still unfortunately, not re-merged from the Ashes stage, fresh from an overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Kiwis on Sunday. The side that pulled off a shock defeat of the West Indies in their inaugural World Cup and stunned one and all by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament in 2003, have lately sunk to their lowest ebb. Kenya will have to pick up the pieces of that loss rather quickly and put on a better show against the Pakistanis.
Kenya Vs Pakistan
Starting Time: 2:30 IST
In fact, they would have to come up with their nothing short of their best possible performance, as history dictates they don't stand much of a chance of forcing an upset otherwise. After all, Pakistan have beaten Kenya on all five occasions that these two sides have met in the one-day arena. Pakistan's most emphatic win against Kenya could very well have been in their last encounter, which was in Sep 2004, when the former overcame the latter by 7 wickets with 188 balls to spare. Indeed, on that occasion, Kenya had been bundled out for 94 runs in 32 overs, Pakistan reaching the target in under 19 overs.
Only three Kenyan players are still existing in the team since those torrid times - Steve Tikolo, Peter Ongondo and Thomas Odoyo, while the same number remain in the Pakistan outfit - Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar. One could argue that the lacklustre showing of the Kenyan team team on Sunday was not a measure of their true potential and that the warm-ups played in prelude to the World Cup would be a better indicator. If that is the case, then the signs for Kenya are promising. Yes, they lost both those matches, but certain individual performances stood out.
For instance the off-spinning, veteran all-rounder Steve Tilkolo returned impressive bowling figures of 4/39 against the West Indies, while Odoyo rattled the top-order in the same match, ensnaring 3/34. Then, opening batsmen Seren Waters made good scores of 43 and 125, while David Obuya notched up 68 and 20 and Rakep Patel played a blinder of 64 from just 59 balls against the Netherlands. There have been noteworthy individual performances from Pakistan in the warm-ups as well, with Ahmed Shehzad averaging 64.50 with the bat, Misbah-ul-Haq, 55 and Younis Khan, over 40.
But one will have to wait and see if Kenya's batting is able to hold its own against the might of Pakistan's bowling. This may be Kenya's last chance to stay in the tournament while an upset against Pakistan could take them a long way. So they have everything to play for on Tuesday, provided they coalesce as a team again...