England ease through

England’s cricketers today managed to succeed where their footballing counterparts had failed – in beating inferior opposition when a victory was of the utmost importance. Steve Tikolo and Ed Joyce made 76 and 75 for their respective sides, but Joyce received greater support, as Kevin Pietersen weighed in with a half-century of his own. England won by seven wickets, eliminating Kenya and confirming their progression to the Super Eight stage.

Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Kenya’s batsmen failed to give enough support to their captain and talisman Tikolo. With rain having reduced the contest to 43 overs per side, this looked set to favour the minnows slightly – however, their top order batting did not show enough ability or application to get off to a fast start.

As Australia’s Matthew Hayden was bullying South Africa’s bowlers into submission over in St. Kitts, Kenya’s batsmen were prodding and poking throughout the early overs in St. Lucia. James Anderson bowled a particularly tight opening spell, nipping one into Ravi Shah’s stumps early on to remove him for only five. Maurice Ouma followed him shortly afterwards, clipping one to Paul Collingwood at mid-on after a scratchy 13 from 45 balls.

Ouma’s dismissal brought Tikolo to the crease, and the rest of the innings followed a familiar pattern for Kenya – Tikolo battled away, with a combination of efficient strokeplay and careful defence, while the rest of the side crumbled around him. The next highest scorer was Jimmy Kamande with 17, as the vast majority of Kenya’s batsmen struggled to deal with the pace of Andrew Flintoff, and Paul Collingwood’s tricky medium-pace.

When Tikolo was bowled by the returning Flintoff in the 41st over, Kenya’s resistance ended swiftly. They were bowled out for 177, which looked decent but uncompetitive on a good batting track. England’s batsmen would eventually prove as much, but not before one or two early hiccups.

Michael Vaughan’s departure for only one was the first of those hiccups, with the captain looking to get some runs under his belt ahead of the next stage of the competition. Ian Bell fared little better, departing for 16 after once again starting his innings brightly. The next man in, however, was Kevin Pietersen, and having given his wicket away cheaply against Canada, it was always unlikely that he would do the same thing again.

Pietersen and the maturing Ed Joyce guided England the majority of the way to their target, with Joyce playing some impressive strokes – one pull over midwicket in particular caught the eye. The two put on 103 for the third wicket, with Joyce’s 75 making him England’s leading run-scorer in the tournament so far. Pietersen used the innings to gain himself some valuable time at the crease, easing to a 54-ball 50 with little trouble.

When Joyce departed to a surprise doosra from captain Tikolo with the score on 155, the job was virtually done. Paul Collingwood arrived to help Pietersen finish it off, and England eased into the next stage at the expense of their opponents. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it would do. Besides, it was a damn sight better than the footballers.

Kenya 177 all out
Steve Tikolo 76
James Anderson 2-27

England 178-3 (33 overs)
Ed Joyce 75, Kevin Pietersen 52*
Steve Tikolo 1-18

England win by seven wickets

Cricket Web Player of the Match – Steve Tikolo, 76 (97 balls, 8×4) and 1-18

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