A lot to prove for both teams
February 19, 2011
February 20, Chennai
Start time 09:30 local time (04:00 GMT)
Both New Zealand and Kenya have been through difficult patches in the recent past and will open their World Cup campaigns with plenty to prove. Kenya come across as the whipping boys of the group, along with Canada, but a demoralised New Zealand are ripe for the picking. New Zealand have come off a humiliating loss to India in their warm-up game and three consecutive bilateral ODI series defeats at the hands of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, so the need to show some intent is pressing.
New Zealand have gone from being one of the sides that was always there and thereabouts to the forgotten men of international competitions but given the format of this World Cup, they have almost no excuse to not make it to the quarter-finals.
The World Cup is Daniel Vettori's last international series as captain; he would like to leave a lasting impression and he has the personnel to help him do that. The middle order is New Zealand's marshmallow and if they can firm up that section, they should be able to pull off a decent all-round performance. They will be the team the minnows are targetting in this group and in order to restore self belief they could do with a solid win under their belts.
For Kenya, a win over any side will do and beating a full member will be punching above their weight. A close defeat to the Netherlands in their second warm-up illustrated what they are capable of with both bat and ball. The top five batsmen are all capable of getting big scores with Seren Waters leading the line-up. Their string of medium pacers have been economical and effective and if they can capitalise on the mentorship they've been receiving from people like the Kirsten brothers and Jonty Rhodes, they may have a rabbit or two to pull out of the hat.
Form guide(Most recent first)
New Zealand: WLLLW Kenya: WLWLL
Pitch and conditions
The Chennai pitch worried South Africa captain Graeme Smith despite his team cantering to an eight-wicket win in a warm-up game against Zimbabwe last week. There doesn't appear to be too much life in it, for either the seamers or the spinners and the batsmen are the ones who could benefit the most. It is likely to be a hot day in Chennai, but the heat should be tempered somewhat by some cloud cover.
Watch out for…
One of the most exciting young batsmen to come out of Kenya in a while, Alex Obanda is a strokeplayer, who will probably open the innings. His shots are as flamboyant as his frosted hairstyle, and Kenya will look to him as the ideal foil for more circumspect opening partner, Waters, to attack the new ball and score boundaries with the field up.
Injuries and dwindling confidence have taken some of the spark out of Jacob Oram's gameplay in recent times, but there is no doubting his taleny and if New Zealand are going to get out of their slump and be serious contenders in this tournament, they need a fit and firing Oram in the lower middle order. He was didn't have much impact in New Zealand's warm-ups, scoring 17 runs in two innings and picking up two expensive wickets, and a return to form is well overdue.
Offspinner Nathan McCullum spent Thursday and Friday night in hospital after being admitted with high fever. He participated in a light training session on Saturday but remains a doubtful starter. Luke Woodcock may play in his place but that would keep a batsman out of the side. Should New Zealand opt for the extra batsmen, like Jamie How, they may find themselves a bowler short.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendan McCullum, 3 Jessie Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Scott Stryis, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Luke Woodcock, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Tim Southee
Kenya have had a fairly settled unit in recent times, and without any injuries to worry them, the playing XI practically picks itself. With both the spinning Ngoche brothers likely to play on what should be a helpful surface, the one question may be who to pick between Tanmay Mishra and Rakep Patel, as both have impressed in the middle order.
1 Seren Waters, 2 Alex Obanda, 3 Collins Obuya, 4 Tanmay Mishra/Rakep Patel, 5 Steve Tikolo, 6 Maurice Ouma (wk), 7 Jimmy Kamande (capt), 8 Thomas Odoyo, 9 James Ngoche, 10 Shem Ngoche, 11 Nehemiah Odhiambo
Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.
Stats and trivia
- Kenya and New Zealand have met just once before in World Cups, with New Zealand handing out a 148-run thrashing at Gros Islet in 2007.
- The second-oldest man at the World Cup, after Canada's John Davison, Steve Tikolo is just a shade under 40. He's also his country's leading batsman, having scored more runs and more hundreds and fifties than any other player to represent Kenya.
- To say that New Zealand haven't had the greatest time on the subcontinent lately is to put it mildly, as they slumped to 11 straight losses in the region, before going down to Pakistan at home.
- Jesse Ryder had a quiet 2010 thanks to a couple of nagging injuries, but he's started 2011 with a bang, blazing to a hundred to set up a consolation win over Pakistan in the sixth ODI at Eden Park. Another New Zealand batsman in unexpectedly good nick is James Franklin, who's scored three half-centuries in his last six innings, narrowly missing out on a hundred in Bangalore in December.
"Any team that takes us lightly will do so at their own peril. We practiced very hard for this after our training camp in India and the mood in the camp is as good as it can be."
Jimmy Kamande is confident that his side will not be pushovers
"We can't take them lightly because they an unknown quantity, we do not know much about them"
Daniel Vettori warns against complacency on the eve of his side's first game