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The Electronic Telegraph Kenya v South Africa, Group A
Mark Nicholas - 26 May 1999

South Africans cruise

South Africa (153-3) beat Kenya (152 all out) by 7 wkts

IT WOULD be fun to be able to say ``I was there'' on that memorable day in Poona, India, during the last World Cup when the Kenyans bowled out the West Indies for 93. Disappointingly, I can't, because I wasn't. But I watched, in a Hyderabad hotel room, and marvelled at every ball while the biggest of fish was deep-fried. The win by 73 runs gave Kenya a relevant place on cricket's ever-broadening map.

The sun shone yesterday on a mainly Dutch audience as they made their way to the pretty ground in the suburbs of Amsterdam. Someone said that Kenya had it in them to give South Africa a shock - ``they've got six of the same players who beat the West Indies last time'' - but that someone could not possibly have followed the recent achievements of the South African mean machine. The shock came Kenya's way and business was concluded in a flurry of straight sixes by Daryll Cullinan well before time.

Four out of four for South Africa, and there was not much yesterday which suggested that the juggernaut could be stopped.

It was not long ago that all the pitches in Holland were made from matting, laid on either turf or concrete. In every way, the VRA Ground has come on a treat. The outfield is lightning-fast and the general facilities pretty good, but best of all was the grass pitch, which, though slow, was dry and played well.

Not so the Kenyans, who, for the third time in the tournament, got off to a cracking start and blew it. When the first wicket fell after an hour's play, 66 runs were on the board and South Africa were looking anything but unbeatable. Even Allan Donald was spanked around - straight-driven, cut and pulled by Ravindu Shah, who has only played five of these matches in his life. However, Donald responded to his punishment with two cleverly thought-out wickets in support of some sensible bowling by the under-rated Steve Elworthy and the typically combative Lance Klusener.

Kennedy Otieno did his bit against the new ball, which, for once in the past couple of weeks, was easier to hit than the old ball but the top-notch batsmen Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe fell at exactly the time that consolidation was required. Alvin Kallicharan, the Kenyan coach, agreed that it didn't look good but said that he was not too miffed with his boys. ``We don't get enough experience in international cricket to compete at this level,'' he pointed out. ``Gone are the days when you can just turn up and perhaps even cause an upset. Teams like South Africa are just too good to be caught out.''

The five South Africans who batted had a useful net and the three who were out were victims of extravagant strokes. Their batting improves almost by the day and a suspicion that their cricket is not yet into overdrive lingers around the tournament with menace.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk