Bagai, Hansra half-centuries shape up Canada win

Canadian captain Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra during their 132-run match-winning partnership against Kenya at New Delhi

By Jamie Alter

New Delhi: Mar 7, 2011

In a match of no real consequence, Canada brushed aside Kenya to finally put themselves on the points table. They were made to work a touch hard for it, but Kenya s fighting total of 198, in which their lower middle order helped them out, was still never going to be enough.

Jimmy Hansra made Kenya pay for dropping him on 0, leading the reply with a calm half-century, and Ashish Bagai returned to some semblance of form with a gritty 64 not out. Canada ended up winning by five wickets after a shaky start in this low-scoring match.

Rizwan Cheema fell early with an ugly swipe across the stumps and a direct hit from Jimmy Kamande sent Zubin Surkari packing. Ravindu Gunasekera had started to stamp a calm authority on the game, picking out the singles with ease and unleashing the odd big hit, but a moment of madness saw Kenya claim his wicket. Beaten down the leg side first ball from James Ngoche, Gunasekera wandered out of his crease and was stumped on the second attempt.

Ngoche should have had a second in his opening over, except Seren Waters spilled a sitter at mid-on to reprieve Hansra. Hansra promptly thumped two boundaries off the over and never looked back. With skipper Bagai, he started forming a partnership when Thomas Odoyo was taken off the attack and a good contest began to brew.

Ngoche tied up runs from one end with his steady off-breaks, and Hansra and Bagai had to rely on singles and doubles. They applied themselves sensibly, looking to take Canada through without further loss. Bagai scored predominantly off the back foot, always ready to cut, while Hansra largely through front-foot drives that threaded the off-side cordon.

Hansra snapped a barren ten overs without a boundary with a shimmy down the track to collect six off Kamande and repeated the shot off Steve Tikolo as Kenyan shoulders dropped.

The predominantly empty stands yawning back at the players could have done little to gee up the players in this low-key clash, but as the evening wound down there was some noise emanating from the stands, in all likelihood cheers for Bagai who was born in Delhi.

His was a composed innings, full of nudges and tucks around the corner. He never gave Kenya a sniff, and after crossing fifty decided to finish the chase with a flurry.

Earlier, Canada s batsmen had been pushed for victory after Kenya made a much better fist of things to reach a respectable 198. At 57 for 5, even 100 looked a fair bit away, and if it hadn’t been for Tanmay Mishra and Odoyo Kenya might have been severely embarrassed.

Henry Osinde, bowling with control and extracting some good movement, drew first blood after Kenya opted to bat. A little bit movement did for Maurice Ouma, who limply pushed at one just outside off stump and edged into Harvir Baidwan s lap at second slip.

Waters thoroughly disappointing tournament continued as he played down the wrong line and was bowled to leave Kenya bleeding at seven for two. Osinde s repeated away movement had the batsmen pushing and prodding, and he continued to beat the bat during a great opening spell (7-2-16-3).

Baidwan bowled well and dismissed Collins Obuya for a brisk 31, while Tikolo s idea of hitting his way out of a slump ended unfortunately. He was adjudged lbw on review, though the replays suggested there was an inside edge as Cheema became the third seamer to pick up a wicket.

Mishra and Kamande offered some resistance with a 52-run partnership in just over 14 overs. A push here and a nudge there enabled the duo to tick along but some poor running between the wickets cost them a few valuable runs. Kamande, who toughed it out when those before him couldn t, stayed at the crease 58 balls for 22 runs, but could not resist cutting a ball from Balaji Rao into Bagai s gloves (109 for six).

That Kenya made it to 198 from here was thanks only to the sensible batting of Mishra and Odoyo. Mishra s driving down the ground and between the covers was confident and allowed Kenya to pose a comeback as Canada seemed to slip into consolidation mode after knocking out half of the Kenyan team.

He swept anything off line and collected 71% of his runs on the leg side. Mishra did all the hard work initially, defending and blocking when wickets fell around him, while Odoyo came out and lifted the mood with some hard-hit drives. After crossing fifty, Mishra fell trying to up the tempo. Odoyo, Kenya s most-capped player, injected 51 valuable runs, with five boundaries, to the total until Baidwan ended the innings with the last ball of the innings.

(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)

Brief Scores: Kenya 198 all out in 50 overs (Tanmay Mishra 51, Thomas Odoyo 51, Collins Obuya 31; Henry Osinde 4 for 26, Rizwan Cheema 2 for 30, Harvir Baidwan 2 for 41, Balaji Rao 1 for 36 ) lost to Canada 199 for 5 in 45.3 overs (Jimmy Hansra 70, Ashish Bagai 64*; Nehemiah Odhiambo 2 for 45) by 5 wickets.

Pictures Getty Images