West Indies overcame a spirited challenge from Kenya to register a 29-run victory in a Group C league match of the Champions Trophy cricket tournament at Colombo today.
Brian Lara's painstaking 111 and Wavel Hind's pyrotechics in the slog overs saw West Indies posting a competitive 261 for six in their stipulated 50 overs after captain Carl Hooper had elected to bat.
Captain Steve Tikolo spearheaded his side's run-chase with a brilliant 91-ball 93 with nine boundaries but the Kenyans were bowled out for 232 in the 49.1 overs. Pedro Collins was the star of the West Indian bowlers claiming three wickets for just 18 runs off 9.1 overs.
The Kenyans were in the hunt till their captain was at the crease. In fact, they were ahead of the West Indies in terms of runs scored till the 45th over. However, they were to rue the 57 runs they conceded in the last five overs of the West Indian innings and a number of catches that they dropped.
Once Tikolo was out in the 47th over as the seventh batsman, the Kenyans ran out of steam and their innings folded in another 16 deliveries.
Tikolo, who came at the fall of opener Ravindu Shah (27) in the 17th over, waged a lone battle with the only support coming from Brijal Patel who made 35 runs.
The two added 50 runs in eight overs before Patel was caught by Hooper off leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo. Kenya did not have any worthwhile partnerhsip after that as wickets kept tumbling at one end.
Tikolo, however, kept up his end and played some fine shots to defy the West Indies attack for more than two hours. Kenya required nearly six runs an over in the last 15 overs but some accurate bowling prevented the batsmen from scoring easily.
The required run rate kept rising steadily and the Kenyans found it very hard to get the boundaries. In desperation, they attempted to slog and lost their wickets.
Earlier, Lara fought acute tiredness and dehydration to bring up his 15th one-day century. He was dropped on at least three ocassions but more than that it was fatigue that troubled the star batsman most.
He had to be hospitalised after his innings due to suspected hepatitis that might put him out of the tour of India beginning next month. He is due to undergo several tests in the next 24 hours.
Despite the problems, Lara continued to bat and provided the much needed impetus to the West Indian innings after they had slowed down considerably in the middle overs.
Lara put on 55 runs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (43) for the second wicket and another 64 with captain Hooper (20) for the third wicket.
However, it was only after the 40th over that West Indies innings really gained momentum. After taking nearly 80 balls for his first fifty, Lara raced to his second fifty in just 34 balls.
He was finally dismissed when he attempted a big hit against Tikolo, only to miss the line and see the ball crash into his stumps. Lara hit eight fours and two sixes in his 120-ball knock.
Hinds carried fnrward the good work of Lara with some lusty hitting in the last five overs. He smashed 20 runs off just seven balls with one four and two sixes.
Ramanaresh Sarwan chipped in with run-a-ball 20. Tikolo was the most successful of the Kenyan bowlers claiming two wickets for 49 runs from his seven overs but it was former captain Maurice Odumbe who bowled the most impressive spell to contain the West Indian batsmen during the middle overs.
Odumbe sent down 10 overs for just 21 runs while taking the wicket of Chanderpaul who was caught by David Obuya for 43 which included four hits to the fence.