World Cup Countdown: Australia survive Aasif Karim scare
Aasif Karim finished with figures of 2 for 7 from 8.2 overs. (Getty Image)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, CricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the tournament over the years – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 41 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we rewind to a clash in which Kenya almost upset the formidable Australia in 2003.

Before their cricket nose-dived, there was a time when Kenya were the strongest minnows in world cricket and dished out their best-ever World Cup performance in 2003 when they reached the semifinal in 2003 in South Africa. Along they way, they had sprung many surprises, most noticeably being a win against Sri Lanka.

However, Kenya’s rise in the tournament was such that they nearly pulled off the upset of the decade against world champions Australia. On March 15, Australia survived a scare which went by the name of Aasif Karim. On a day when Brett Lee recorded his first ODI hat-trick and just the fourth in World Cup, it was Karim who ended with the best figures in the match – 3 for 7.

This is how it all panned out. Lee’s 3 for 14 steamrolled Kenya, even though a defiant half-century from captain Steve Tikolo and a useful hand of 46 from Ravindu Shah. From 3 for 3, Shah and Tikolo forged a partnership of 79 runs. Once Shah fell, Tikolo received able support from Hitesh Modi, who chipped in with 39 and the duo added another 49 for the next wicket. Kenya finished on 174 for 8, a total which Australia were expected to chase down with ease.

In reply, Australia were off to a brisk start with Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden putting 50 inside six overs before Peter Ongondo struck to remove both openers in quick time. With Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds being given the responsibility to take the chase forward, Kenya introduced Karim, and the manner in which the left-arm spinner applied the screws on Australia was nothing short of phenomenal.

The fifth ball was on a length, and Ponting was trapped at the crease. It was a wicket maiden. Karim struck again with the third ball of his second over: Darren Lehmann poked at one outside off and was caught-behind; Ponting promoted Brad Hogg to increase the tempo, but three balls later Hogg walked back after hitting one back to Karim. At this stage his figures read 2-2-0-3, and Australia, suddenly 117 for 5, still needed 58. Ponting held back Damien Martyn and promoted Ian Harvey instead.

Karim conceded a run off each of his next two overs, which made his figures drop to 4-2-2-3. Then he went back to his parsimonious best, sending down four more maidens to achieve Bapu Nadkarni-like figures of 8.2-6-7-3. Symonds and Harvey scored runs at the other end. Modi recalled Ongondo, who bowled through, finishing with 2 for 44, but ran out of options.