Bangalore: Australia’s apparently unstoppable journey towards a fourth successive World Cup title moved another step forward on Sunday but not before Kenya, of all teams, had given them plenty to think about.
The Africans have been mainly practice fodder for most of the Group A so Ricky Ponting must have expected a truncated day/nighter, especially after posting 324-6 having overcome a sticky start once they had won the toss and batted first.
Kenya, however, had other ideas. Perhaps they were stung by criticism from home after a number of crushing defeats or perhaps they finally realised latent potential, but for once the Australian pace bowling attack met seriously stern resistance.
True, Australia eventually romped home by a 60-run margin but not before the stubborn Kenyan batsmen had shown other teams that the battery of Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee need not necessarily blow away all that comes before it.
At the end of their 50 overs, Collins Obuya remained unbeaten just two runs short of a century which would have been a much deserved reward for an innings he will surely remember for the rest of his life.
But he was not the sole man in the Kenya ranks to bristle defiance in their innings of 264-6.
Tanmay Mishra struck eight fours and a towering six on his way to 72 and was only halted in full flight by one of three run-outs self-inflicted on the African side.
“The guys had nothing to lose and it was good to see them have a bit of fun out there which is the most important thing for a sportsman,” Kenyan captain Jimmy Kamande summed up.
The bowlers’ somewhat blunt performance on an admittedly benign batting surface was not the only aspect that must have concerned Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
After a bright start from Shane Watson (21) and Brad Haddin (65), a tumble of three wickets for 16 runs left Australia in a spot of bother at 143-4.
But Australia have not won three World Cups on the trot and still remain unbeaten in 33 tournament matches for nothing.
Mike Hussey, returning to the squad as a replacement for the injured seamer Doug Bollinger, hit the ground running to remind everyone what a dangerous asset he is for his team.
He scored 54 to help Michael Clarke (93) add 114 for the fifth wicket and lead their side to what turned out to be an unassailable position.
Afterwards, Ponting blamed his side’s inactivity -- their last match on March 5 against Sri Lanka was washed out early on by a Colombo deluge -- for their “rustiness”.
They will now cram in matches against another second tier nation, Canada, on Wednesday before rounding off the round robin group stage with a tougher workout against Pakistan on Saturday in Colombo.
Australia still remain the side to beat here and are now the only undefeated outfit left in the competition following India’s loss to South Africa on Saturday.
But Kenya have shown that their much-feared pace attack, rusty or not, need not be so frightening after all.