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Pakistan opens World Cup play with 317-112 win over Kenya
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR – Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal played a gem to help Pakistan trounce Kenya by 205 runs, 317-112, in its ICC Cricket World Cup opener at Mahindra Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka February 23.
Kenya was bundled out for 112 in the 34th over in the Group A match, finding Pakistan's pace-cum-spin bowling attack difficult. Captain Shahid Afridi won the best-player award after taking five Kenyan wickets.
Earlier, the Pakistani innings stuttered when the two Kenyan opening bowlers sent back the two openers by the seventh over.
Right-handed batsman Umar, 21, debuting in the World Cup, played a 52-ball, 71-run innings and shared a rapid 118-run stand for the fifth wicket with Misbahul Haq, who was a successful batsman in Test and One-Day Internationals on a New Zealand tour early this year.
Umar’s innings came after Pakistan lost two quick wickets with openers Muhammad Hafeez (nine runs) and Shehzad Ahmed (one run) dismissed cheaply.
Umar’s innings included eight boundaries and a towering six. His elder brother, wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, also scored a half-century to join the list of leading scorers, which included Younas Khan (50) and Misbahul Haq (65).
Former skipper Khan seemed to be regaining his form after hitting the half-century. “Yes, I’m quite happy about my performance,” he said after the match. “The pitch was slow and skidding.”
Pakistan’s four half-centuries equalled the World Cup record of four fifties by any one team.
Earlier, Afridi won the toss and decided to bat first. Unexpectedly, Kenyan bowlers Thomas Odoyo and Elijah Otieno showed admirable control with the new ball reducing Pakistan to 12 for 2 in the seventh over.
Kenyan bowlers fell victim to wayward bowling after showing initial discipline, giving away 46 extra runs, the 5th highest score in the Pakistani innings.
Pakistan next faces Sri Lanka February 26 in Colombo.