We have nothing to lose, says Kenya
Far from being daunted by a semifinal against India, the Kenyan squad is continuing what it’s been doing all World Cup: relaxing and enjoying.
Kenya’s cricket players spent Sunday morning strolling along Durban’s beachfront among the crowds browsing through the city’s informal markets. Other minnows might have tried cramming practice into every spare minute ahead of Thursday’s semifinal against India, but that would contradict Kenya’s successful formula.
With more than $500 000 already banked as a result of the extraordinary run for the East Africans, the players were probably looking for a few luxuries. “The players’ contracts say we keep the money,” skipper Steve Tikolo said with a smile.
Bangladesh, the 10th and most recent nation granted test status by the International Cricket Council, took $30 000 in prize money—$5 000 for losing each league match—away from the World Cup.
South Africa, the No.
1 ranked test team, collected $47 500 before its first round exit. Kenya, which doesn’t have full membership of the ICC and only a handful of professional cricketers, will go home with a big slice of the money regardless of the outcome of the semis. And the players are relishing their new status.
Assistant coach Andy Kirsten said Tikolo, who scored a defiant 51 against a rampant Australian pace attack spearheaded by Brett Lee on Saturday night, had recovered from the fever which kept him off the field as his team made a valiant attempt to match the defending world champions.
Kenya eventually was defeated by five wickets, but not without reducing the Australians to 117 for five wickets chasing a modest 175 victory target. “Steve’s better this morning,” said Kirsten, who expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the Kenyan lineup stood up to “the best team in the world”.
Kenya’s injury woes are not too serious, either, said Kirsten. The groin strains suffered by allrounders Thomas Odoyo and Maurice Odumbe are on the mend, and both will be ready to face an Indian team which is looking increasingly like potential world champions.
Kennedy Otieno, who was taken from the field in agony after a thunderbolt from Lee cannoned off his forearm into his stumps, is also on the mend, although he is still in some discomfort.
Medical scans ruled out a fracture, but severe bruising kept Otieno off the field against Australia, and he may not be able to practice until the eve of the semifinal, said Kirsten.
Kenya’s dream run in the World Cup has gripped the imagination of the South African supporters after the early exit of the home team. Every run scored by the Kenyans, as well as every one stopped against the Australians, was cheered to the rafters at Kingsmead on Saturday.
Hitesh Modi, who stood in for Tikolo in the field, put the Kenyan approach in a nutshell when he said after the match, “We have nothing to lose. We will just go out there and play hard.”
“And enjoying ourselves is something that Steve makes sure we do, too,” he added. - Sapa-AP