On this day in 2003: India march into World Cup final by beating Kenya

On this day in 2003, India ended Kenya’s dream run in the 2003 World Cup by beating them in the semifinal of the competition. Kenya co-hosted the competition along with South Africa and Zimbabwe. Not many had given them a chance of doing well against the elites of the game and had backed South Africa to do well. The Proteas, in fact, were one of the favourites for the title.

The magical rise

But the cricket world was in for a big shock as Kenya sprung a huge surprise. In a group comprising South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Canada, and Bangladesh, it was almost taken for granted that the top Test-playing nations would proceed to the Super Six stage. However, the likes of South Africa and the West Indies failed to progress while Kenya qualified for the next round along with Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Kenya started their campaign with a loss to South Africa before they beat Canada. Their third match against New Zealand was not played after the Kiwis refused to travel to Kenya citing security reasons. Consequently, Kenya were given a walkover. In their following game, they defeated 1996 World Cup winners Sri Lanka to send shockwaves around the world. It was followed by a defeat to West Indies in their final group match.

In the Super Six stage, they had to play against India, Zimbabwe, and Australia. They defeated Zimbabwe but lost to India & Australia. But the one win was enough for them to make it to the semifinal because of their higher carried forward points. And their dream run ended at the semifinal stage.

India ends the dream

India won the toss and decided against chasing in the big game. Skipper Sourav Ganguly led from the very front and scored his third century of the tournament to guide India to a big total of 270 for 4. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar gave the Men in Blue a solid start by adding 74 runs for the first wicket before the latter and Ganguly shared 103 runs for the second wicket. Tendulkar also played a fine innings of 83.

In reply, Kenya were all out for 179 in the 47th over. They never really looked in contention to chase down the total as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Half of their batsmen had returned to the hut inside 19 overs as India’s pace trio of Javagal Srinath (1/11), Zaheer Khan (3/14) and Ashish Nehra (2/11) wreaked havoc. The trio took six wickets among themselves for 36 runs at the stingiest economy rate of 1.70. Tendulkar also chipped in with a couple of wickets as India made light work of Kenya. Captain Steve Tikolo waged a lone battle by scoring a fighting fifty but found very little support from the other end.

Talking about India’s journey in the tournament, the Men in Blue had lost just one game before making it to the final. Their lone defeat had come against Australia in the group stages. Incidentally, India faced Australia in the final too and failed to win that game either.