Kenya made their debut at the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996 and while they were eliminated after the group stages, they certainly announced themselves to the world with that famous victory over the fancied West Indies.
They had earlier secured qualification after finishing as runners up to the United Arab Emirates in the ICC Trophy played in Nairobi in 1994.
Taking the script back to 1996, the Kenyans arrived in the Indian sub-continent for their maiden appearance on the biggest stage of 50 overs cricket. They would lose their opening three matches, falling to a 7 wicket defeat to India, a 97 run loss to Australia and a 5 wicket defeat to fellow African side Zimbabwe.
Took the wind out of the Windies sails
Already eliminated and taking on the West Indies at the Nehru Stadium in Pune with absolutely nothing to lose, Kenya went on to pull off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, quite literally taking the wind out of the Windies’ sails. They looked dead and buried after managing 166 all out in a less than satisfactory batting performance.
This was a target the Windies batsmen were expected to surpass with relative ease but they didn’t reckon with the Kenyan bowling performance on the day. Rajab Ali claimed some crucial wickets including that of the iconic Brian Lara while captain Maurice Odumbe decimated their middle order resulting in a dramatic collapse that saw Kenya restrict the pre-match favorites to just 93 runs, the 73 run victory sending shockwaves around the world.
They would lose their final match at this tournament to Sri Lanka, falling to a 144 run defeat.
Kenya 1996 squad
Maurice Odumbe (c), Rajab Ali, Dipak Chudasama, Tariq Iqbal, Aasif Karim, Hitesh Modi, Thomas Odoyo, Edward Odumbe, Lameck Onyango, Kennedy Otieno, Brijal Patel, Martin Suji,David Tikolo, Steve Tikolo
Coach: Hanumant Singh
A second successive appearance at the Cricket World Cup in 1999 in England was nothing worth writing about as the team lost all their fixtures. They would however make up for this with a stellar performance at the 2003 tournament which was primarily hosted by South Africa with fixtures in Kenya and Zimbabwe as well.
The Kenyans finished second behind Sri Lanka in Pool B, qualifying for the Super Sixes in style with a 53 run shock defeat of Sri Lanka.
They batted first in this match, scoring 210 for 9 in their allocated 50 overs before restricting the Sri Lankans to 157 all out in 45 overs with off spinner Collins Obuya picking up 5 for 24 in a man of the match performance at the Nairobi Gymkhana on 24 February 2003.
They had earlier beaten Canada, benefited from a walkover against New Zealand (who declined to play in Nairobi owing to security concerns) before beating Bangladesh while suffering two defeats to South Africa and the West Indies.
A third place finish in the Super Six stage saw the Kenyans become the first non test playing nation to reach the Word Cup semifinals where they fell to a 91 run defeat to India.
Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra played a key role in decimating the Kenyan top order. Kenya were eventually bowled out for 179 after 46.2 overs. Prolific batsman Steve Tikolo with 56 runs was Kenya’s standout performer in this fixture.
India proceeded to meet Australia in the final, falling to a 125 run defeat .
Steve Tikolo (c), Joseph Angara, Aasif Karim, Hitesh Modi, Collins Obuya, David Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Maurice Odumbe, Peter Ongóndo, Kennedy Otieno, Brijal Patel, Ravindu Shah,Martin Suji, Tony Suji, Alpesh Vadher Coach: Sandeep Patil
PS: Kenyan cricket has never been the same again….story for another day...