Afridis five-for hastens Kenyan end

Shahid Afridi against Kenya in Cricket World Cup

By Jamie Alter

Hambantota: Feb 23, 2011

Shahid Afridi ensured an early finish in Hambantota with his attacking mix of spin, bounce and turn to comprehensively crush Kenya and get Pakistan s World Cup off to a flashing start. Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal all hit half-centuries earlier, before Afridi bamboozled a frail Kenya line-up in 33.1 overs to seal a 205-run win.

In Chennai, have being decimated for just 69, Kenya had little ammunition to stop New Zealand s openers galloping home in eight overs. Today, having to field first, they had Pakistan in early strife at 12 for two, but somehow managed to concede 208 runs in the second half as Pakistan s middle order stepped on the gas. Kamran and Younis began the recovery in workmanlike manner, and once they were gone Misbah and Umar flogged a one-dimensional attack which conceded a shocking 37 wides to finish at 317 for seven.

The Kenyan chase lacked oomph, with the top order resorting to extreme caution. Shoaib Akhtar s probing line and Umar Gul s unerring accuracy bottled up the runs at first; Maurice Ouma swallowed up 37 balls for his 16, and Seren Waters was run-out looking to get off the strike as a result of the pressure. Ouma s flirt with the first bit of width from Gul resulted in a nick to Kamran, and Steve Tikolo s frustration he was never at ease as Afridi and Abdur Rehman bowled testing spells led to a charge and the ball crashing into his stumps (73 for 3).

Rakep Patel joined Collins Obuya after Tanmay Mishra s nervous stay was curtailed by a ball that skidded to hit the pad in front of leg stump; Afridi immediately went for the referral after umpire Nigel Llong turned down his appeal and the verdict was soon reversed. Nine deliveries later half the Kenyan side was back inside as Patel s attempt to slog-sweep Mohammad Hafeez went nowhere (85 for five).

Jimmy Kamande was out soon after, lbw to Afridi, and the procession continued with Thomas Odoyo out for duck in a similar manner. Obuya s punchy 47 contained some sweet shots but attempting another six he became Afridi s fifth victim. The ninth wicket fell amid scenes of joyous laughter from Pakistan, with Nehemiah Odhiambo run out by yards courtesy a direct hit from Younis. Gul took one delivery to complete the last rites when he bowled Shem Ngoche who opted to shoulder arms. Afridi finished with five for 16, a great start to his World Cup captaincy.

Kenya s start earlier in the day had been disciplined, which was the doing mostly of fine opening spells from Odoyo and Elijah Otieno. The third and fourth overs were maidens and in the fifth Otieno got Hafeez clipping to midwicket where an agile Waters plucked a gorgeous one-handed catch. Ahmed Shahzad s scratchy innings came to a close in the next over as a leading edge off Odoyo found a fielder.

Suddenly Pakistan found themselves with two new batsmen at the crease, and the scorecard reading 12 for two after seven overs. But those two men were Younis, a man for a scrap, and Kamran. It was the latter who began the recovery work, starting off by punishing a stray full toss from Otieno for three and then welcoming Odhiambo into the attack with two full tosses. By the time Odhiambo came on for the tenth over Kenya s grip has started to loosen, as evident by a couple full tosses and some wides, and that allowed Pakistan to settle somewhat.

Younis found the perfect partner in Kamran, who did the majority of the scoring in a 98-run third-wicket partnership. By the time Kamran fell for 55, stumped chasing a wide delivery from Ngoche, Younis looked set to convert the slow start. He had already started accelerating and along with Misbah, who also started fluently by dispatching a free hit for six, Younis ticked along. It was a typical Younis knock a determined start, an increase in the number of singles and doubles in the middle portions, and only a couple boundaries.

If Younis was playing an ideal middle-order ODI innings, Misbah at the other end started to mirror him, rotating the strike with ease after he was dropped on six by the wicketkeeper off Tikolo. He looked to dominate against the spinners, repeatedly reverse-sweeping, and by the time the ball was changed after 34 overs, Pakistan had reached 152 for three. Up came the batting Powerplay after 43 overs, and with a flurry of cuts and slashes, Umar sped to a World Cup fifty on debut as well, emulating his senior partner who scored 65 off 69. Umar switched gears after crossing 30, clattering four fours off Otieno in the 45th over, finished with 71 off 52, and Pakistan got 69 in the last five.

Brief score: Pakistan 317 for 7 in 50 overs (Umar Akmal 71, Misbah-ul-Haq 65, Kamran Akmal 55, Younis Khan 50; Thomas Odoyo 3 for 41, Shem Ngoche 1 for 46) bt Kenya 112 in 33.1 overs (Collins Obuya 47, Shahid Afridi 5 for 16).

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine.His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now.)

Pictures AFP