Australia vs Kenya: A mismatch in the offing
Defending champions Australia can reach the World Cup quarter-finals with a victory over hapless Kenya on Sunday in what threatens to be one of the most lopsided matches of the tournament.
March 13, Bangalore
Start time 2.30pm (0900 GMT)
The Big Picture
When you have just lost a match to the lightweights Canada, you don't want the next opponent to be someone who has been undefeated in 32 World Cup matches. A combination of Kenya's wobbling top order and Australia's pace battery means the Chinnaswamy Stadium could stage the biggest mismatch of the tournament on Sunday - the odds on one Australian betting site are so long that a 100$ bet on a Kenyan defeat will only win you 50 cents.
It will be a relief for Australia to get back to cricket, having played their last full game as long ago as February 25. Things are set to become a lot more hectic for them, with their remaining three league matches coming up over the next week. They haven't had a tough workout in the tournament yet, and it is unlikely they will in their next two matches as well, against the Associates in the group, Kenya and Canada. Those encounters will be vital for Michael Hussey, who joined the squad after the rained-out match against Sri Lanka. If deemed fit, they will provide him the chance to adjust to subcontinent conditions.
Kenya know they have a tough task on their hands, and though chances of a win look remote, they have a couple of targets. First, if their batting, which has gradually improved over the World Cup - their totals read 69, 112, 142 and 198 - betters those scores, it will be an achievement. Secondly, Ricky Ponting has been a vocal supporter of the need for a streamlined World Cup, with lesser number of teams. What better chance to prove him wrong than by turning in a strong performance against the world champions?
(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
Cameron White has grown into a senior player in the Australian setup over the past two years. Leader of the national team in Twenty20s, he has also cemented his place as a big-hitting finisher. It's been a while since he played a big knock, though, with no half-century in 11 matches. The amiable Kenyan bowling could help him change that.
Tanmay Mishra is one of the talented youngsters to emerge from Kenya, and is only one of two batsman from the country to have an average above 30. He showed his maturity in the game against Canada, with a sedate half-century that revived Kenya after a familiar top-order collapse.
Australia will resist the temptation to rest either of their frequently injured fast bowlers, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, and will field their best XI. Ponting, though, still needs to decide what that best XI is, and whether to include the recovering Michael Hussey in the match. If they do, Ponting said either David Hussey or Steven Smith will make way.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey/David Hussey, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Jason Krejza, 11 Shaun Tait
Steve Tikolo has been struggling with a stomach bug, and though he is recovering it remains to be seen whether he will be fit for Sunday's match.
Kenya (probable) 1 Maurice Ouma (wk), 2 Seren Waters, 3 Collins Obuya, 4 Steve Tikolo, 5 David Obuya, 6 Tanmay Mishra, 7 Thomas Odoyo, 8 Jimmy Kamande (capt), 9 Nehemiah Odhiambo, 10 James Ngoche, 11 Elijah Otieno.
Pitch and conditions
The match will be played on the same track that was used for the England-Ireland match, which produced more than 650 runs, so Ponting expects an easy surface for the batsmen on Sunday. The weather is also expected to be pleasant; sunny but not too humid.
* Thomas Odoyo has been Kenya's best allrounder: he's their leading wicket-taker in one-dayers, and the second highest run-getter as well
* Shaun Tait has a strike-rate of 26.3 in one-dayers, the best among all bowlers who have sent down at least 1000 deliveries
* Kenya have lost all four of their encounters with Australia, and only once have they really tested Australia, in September 2002 when Shane Watson's unbeaten 77 sealed a last-over win
"As we've seen in the tournament so far, there is a possibility of upsets happening ... we won't take any game lightly." Kenya have not been at their best so far in the tournament but Ricky Ponting isn't letting Australia get complacent
"The guys are really looking forward to playing the top teams, so far I think we have let the fans down, hopefully tomorrow we come up and help them enjoy the day." Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande