Tikolo leads Kenya to seven-wicket win

Steve Tikolo struck an unbeaten 72 and took two wickets to guide 2003 semifinalist Kenya to a seven-wicket win over Canada in the opening Group C match of the World Cup.

Tikolo top-scored on Wednesday, with opener Maurice Ouma contributing 58 runs as Kenya replied to Canada’s 199 all out with 40 balls to spare.

”It’s important to win your first game so you get the momentum into the next game,” said the 35-year-old all-rounder, who was voted man-of-the match. ”It’s important being the senior member of the team to lead from the front and that happened today.”

Tikolo’s decision to field first looked an unwise decision at first, as Canada opener Geoff Barnett had a free-scoring start.

But the introduction of spinners halfway through the innings reigned in Canada.

Barnett made 41 off 50 balls with nine boundaries — including five in one over — the 14th — from Nehemiah Odhiambo. He was out two balls later, lofting a catch to Tanmay Mishra at deep midwicket as he went for another boundary.

Spinners Hiren Varaiya and Jimmy Kamande slowed Canada’s scoring and it never really regained momentum after Barnett’s departure.

Varaiya returned 1-19, including three maidens and Kamande took 2-25. Tikolo took the wickets of Ian Billcliff, caught and bowled, and Ashif Mulla.

”It didn’t click,” said Canada captain John Davison, who described his side’s running between wickets as ”village” and ”embarrassing”.

He was also critical of the bowlers, who conceded 28 extras including 18 wides.

”It was really disappointing. We haven’t bowled that many extras in a game for a long time and maybe the pressure of the situation of the occasion got to us,” Davison said.

Anderson Cummins became the second man to represent two different countries at the World Cup when he came in to bat at number 10 for Canada, but he only made one run before he was run out.

The 40-year-old bowler played for West Indies in the 1992 tournament and made his limited-overs return for Canada in January.

Cummins’ last wicket in a major one-day competition was in October 1995, when he took 2-50 against India in the West Indies’ 50-run loss to Sri Lanka in the final of the Champions Trophy.

Twelve years later, he had David Obuya out edging to wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai for four. He returned 1-32 but was wayward at times, conceding six wides.

Maurice Ouma and Ravi Shah kept the runs ticking along for Kenya. Shah fell for five after being trapped lbw by Umar Bhatti.

Ouma reached his 50 off 71 balls, which included six boundaries and a six.

Slow bowler Sunil Dhanirham opened with a maiden midway through the innings and made a breakthrough the following over, removing Ouma for 58 after he was caught in mid-on by Mulla.

But Tikolo settled in, hitting seven boundaries and one six and combining with Mishra to add 67 runs. Mishra finished not out 35.

Mishra scored the winning runs, thumping a four through the covers off Henry Osinde.

Kenya was a surprise semifinalist at the last World Cup, but Tikolo said the side was just looking ahead to New Zealand and England matches.

”That’s history now, that’s gone,” Tikolo said. ”After today’s game, the guys are looking forward to the next game and hoping to do well.” – Sapa-AP

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