Pakistan recover to flog wayward Kenyan attack

Today, having to field first, Kenya 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.

By Jamie Alter

Hambantota: Feb 23, 2011

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 Akmal and Younis Khan began the recovery in workmanlike manner, and once they were gone Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal flogged a one-dimensional Kenyan attack which conceded a shocking 37 wides to finish at 317 for seven.

Kenya s start was disciplined, which was the doing mostly of fine opening spells from Thomas Odoyo and Elijah Otieno who was especially impressive after two poor overs in Chennai. The tone was set from the very first over the innings, Odoyo probing outside Mohammad Hafeez s off stump. The third and fourth overs were maidens and in the fifth Otieno got Hafeez clipping to midwicket where an agile Seren Waters plucked a gorgeous one-handed catch. 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 Nehemiah 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. But by the time Kamran fell for 55, stumped chasing a wide delivery from Shem 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 Steve 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.

With the slightly newer ball, Jimmy Kamande brought back Odoyo. It was a poor return over, including 10 runs in wides, and Kamande made another change. 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 (Umar Akmal 71, Misbah-ul-Haq 65, Kamran Akmal 55, Younis Khan 50; Thomas Odoyo 3 for 41, Shem Ngoche 1 for 46) vs Kenya.

(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.)

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