Aussie spinners make hard work of minnows
IN time it could be regarded as the turning point in Australia’s World Cup campaign, or just a slack effort from a bowling group that couldn’t even get Kenya out.
Coming off an eight-day break thanks to the tournament’s bizarre scheduling, Australia beat Group A minnows Kenya by only 60 runs in a curious battle in Bangalore.
Undefeated in 33 consecutive World Cup matches, Australia can use tomorrow’s fixture against Canada as another opportunity to finetune their game ahead of Saturday’s clash with Group A leaders Pakistan.
Skipper Ricky Ponting, while explaining he did some tactical experimenting with his bowlers in Sunday’s match, admitted he was concerned spinners Jason Krejza ( 0-36 off eight overs) and Steve Smith ( 0-36 off six) had no impact on a turning pitch at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Chasing Australia’s 6-324, t he World No. 13-ranked Kenya hit 6-264 with three batsmen run out and pacemen Shaun Tait ( 2-49) and Brett Lee 1-26) claiming the other three victims.
‘‘ We were obviously a bit rusty, having a long break between games,’’ Ponting said.
‘‘ It probably would have been an easier option for us today to turn up and win the toss and bowl, but we needed a good, solid hit-out.
‘‘ We got a good, solid 50 overs with the bat and 50 overs with the ball.
‘‘ It was a good opportunity for us to blow a few of the cobwebs out that have been building up.’’
Ponting said Australia’s bowling had lacked intensity at times and he gave credit to Kenya’s batting.
The skipper said he would think hard about possibly rejigging the batting order to give players such as No. 5 Cameron White, who made two against Kenya, a chance to have a hit up the order.
‘‘ I tried a few different things with the spinners. Bowling Smith early in the powerplays was just to give him some experience there and see how he would cope with the situation,’’ Ponting said.
Ponting said off-spinner Krejza bowled most of his overs around the wicket to get a feel for conditions on a turning pitch.
‘‘ There was a bit of experimentation from the spinners, but in saying that, I still would have liked to see them making some breakthroughs for us,’’ Ponting said.
‘‘ Through those middle overs in this tournament when the ball gets old, and the wicket starts to spin, we are going to need our spinners to strike for us, and that didn’t happen tonight.’’
Brad Haddin ( 65) and Ponting ( 36) were part of a middle-order collapse as Australia lost 3-16 before Michael Clarke ( 93 from 80 balls) and recalled veteran Mike Hussey ( 54 off 43) shared a 114-run stand, rescuing the world champions from a shaky 4-143.
Clarke’s fourth half-century in his past five games ended when he holed out in the 49th over, seven runs short of his first World Cup hundred.
The vice-captain averages 175 in the tournament.
Man of the match Kenya’s Collins Obuya finished unbeaten on 98, two shy of his maiden hundred.
WINNERS AREN’T ALWAYS GRINNERS: Ricky Ponting makes a low-key exit from the field after Australia’s underwhelming performance against Kenya