Every World Cup has at least one under-rated team that participates and wishes to make a mark in the World Cup in the form of upsets.
While Ireland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Netherlands might be among the few teams that one became accustomed to seeing in certain world cup editions, it has to be said that if there was a team that not many would’ve heard a great deal about in the first place coming all of a sudden to chalk out a bit of a cricketing history of its own then it was Kenya in 2003 Cricket world cup.
That said, one might wonder why?
What was it about Kenya in 2003 cricket world cup that may have occurred a tad bit surprising and something that’s perhaps remembered even today, a little over a decade and a half in time?
Let’s revisit that bygone era, shall we?
If you are a 90’s kid who has been religiously following cricket, then you may surely have some faint memories of the 2003 cricket World Cup that took place in South Africa. This was a tournament where Lara fired the opening salvo in the form of a century against the Protean hosts. Remember that one-handed six? To some, the 2003 Cricket world cup was about Dravid’s Wall fortifying India thanks to some fine wicket-keeping. And to some fans both at Down Under and elsewhere, it was also about Shane Warne’s failed drug test with “Warnie” failing to participate in the mother of all cricketing battles.
Above all, Australia thrashing India in the finals notwithstanding, there’s something else as well apart from Sachin’s 98 off 75, an inning that was as good as anyone saw.
This was Kenya in 2003 cricket world cup; a sort of an unheralded story that deserves many a mention.
A team that stepped into as an underdog and reached the semi-finals of the tournament came literally as an out of syllabus question to the most knowledgeable student out there.
For starters, Kenya lost the first match of this tournament against the hosts, South Africa but the story post that defeat was written differently. They defeated Canada in the next match and got a walk-over against New Zealand. They then went on to defeat the champions of 1996 World Cup, Sri Lanka which was considered to be one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.
At a later stage of the tournament, they defeated Bangladesh but West Indies left no stone unturned to crush them.
On the basis of points, they automatically qualified to the Super Six Stage and had to face the likes of Australia, India, and Zimbabwe. Having won just one match out of the three, they qualified for the semis which became the unexpected news because no one expected them to come this far in a tournament which introduces itself as a tournament where the test playing nations dominate their presence.
Kenya did lose to India in the semis but the Kenyan team had players like Kennedy Otieno, Maurice Odumbe, Steve Tikolo, Hitesh Modi, Thomas Odoyo, Martin Suji, Toni Suji et cetera who gave all that they had once they walked into the cricket field. Today, there might be no existence of Kenya on the cricketing map but if teams like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe or any other team who wishes to reach the heights of a Cricket World Cup aspires, should definitely look up to what Kenya.