Australia overcome obdurate Obuya
Australia preserved their status as the only unbeaten team in the World Cup and secured qualification to the last eight courtesy of a comfortable victory over Kenya in Bangalore.
They defended a total of 324 for six with some ease at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium to wrap up a 60-run win which sees them join Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the quarter-finals, while as good as ensuring Pakistan’s progress from Group A.
If Michael Clarke’s 93 off 80 balls was the biggest contribution with the bat for Australia, half-centuries for Brad Haddin and Mike Hussey, playing his first game since joining the squad, were also hugely welcome.
Former Warwickshire leg-spinner Collins Obuya narrowly missed out on what would have been a memorable hundred for Kenya - he finished 98 not out - but arguably the most eye-catching innings was played by the diminutive Tanmay Mishra, who batted beautifully in making a career-best 72.
Obuya and Thomas Odoyo prospered late on as the minnows finished on a more than respectable 264 for six, punishing an Australia side whose occasional sloppiness could be partly explained by the fact this was their first completed match since February 25.
“There was a bit of rust on the team today I think," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting. "With the batting, we got 320 but the fielders were a bit rusty, as you can probably expect after 16 days of not much cricket.”
In sealing their passage to the knockout stages with two games to spare, Australia also extended their run of World Cup victories to an astonishing 26 matches.
As was the case in New Zealand’s similarly emphatic win over Canada in Mumbai earlier in the day, Australia’s success was built around their performance with the bat.
Haddin was central to the early stages of that, overcoming the loss of Shane Watson, caught behind cutting, to strike nine fours and a six in his 79-ball 65.
However, he swept Jimmy Kamande to deep midwicket to become the first of three wickets in as many overs. Ponting never looked entirely fluent in making 36 - he was lbw playing across the line to Obuya’s leg-spin - and Cameron White was quite rightly mystified after he was bowled through the gate by an off-break that spun viciously.
Clarke gradually increased the tempo after a cautious start, while Hussey showed few signs of his recent inactivity in fashioning 54 off 43 balls with typical urgency.
Both perished when they failed to clear long-on, Clarke in the penultimate over the innings as Nehemiah Odhiambo completed figures of 3-57.
If Australia expected an easy ride after Brett Lee, swinging the ball at pace, and the rather more wayward Shaun Tait accounted for Maurice Ouma and Alex Obanda respectively early on, they underestimated Kenya.
Obuya batted for all but 2.1 overs of the innings, during which time he ran out - and earned the wrath of - brother David and shared a 115-run stand with Mishra.
Mishra’s effort was high on technical merit as well as ambition, and it was ironic for a player who demonstrated such fleetness of foot that it took a run-out to bring about his downfall, one of three in total for Kenya.
In putting on 86 with Obuya for the fifth wicket, Odoyo added to Australia’s frustration without hinting at changing the inevitable outcome of the match.
Attention therefore turned to Obuya’s quest for a maiden one-day international hundred, but, despite hitting Mitchell Johnson for two fours in the penultimate over, he managed just two singles in the last.
“I'm very proud," said Obuya. "I've been working hard on my batting, on my bowling as well. Hopefully I'll become a batting all-rounder.”
Ponting added: “Full credit to Kenya; I thought they fought the game out well, particularly with their batting."