After having won two tickets the previous week to watch the first ever cricket world cup match to be played on Kenyan soil,I was all set to attend it…Come Sunday night my excitement reached fever pitch,it was hard falling asleep this was by no means my first time attending an international fixture at The Nairobi Gymkhana,but this was the world cup match,nothing beats the world cup.
The day finally arrived February 24 2003,it was a beautiful sunny day,I could not contain my excitement i felt butterflies going through my tummy.after having a quick breakfast I set out to watch the game,having to use public transportation,I got stuck in the famous Nairobi traffic, anxious moments for me as it was past 10am and the match was already underway.The security at the venue was higher than usual for this fixture,After clearing the security checkpoints,I finally arrived inside the Gymkhana a little late though,but just in time to watch Kennedy Obuya lift chaminda vaas for a delightful six
The stage was set for a big day at the game,the excitement around the ground was on a another level,the Kenyans had lost to South Africa,but were coming off a win against Canada and a walkover over the kiwis who refused to travel to Kenya due to security concerns,The Sri Lankans had been undefeated in their previous three fixtures,and were looking for a fourth win which would put them in the super sixes.
The Kenyans batted to a decent score of 210/9 in 50 overs,with Kennedy Obuya top scoring with 60 and Maurice odumbe and Hitesh modi chipping in with 26 a piece, Muralitharan was Sri Lanka’s main bowler grabbing 4/28.
210 was a very gettable total for the Sri Lankans who had Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva Marvan Attapatu and Kumar Sangakara in their batting line up and everyone knew that this team had batting depth.
I remember talking to a Kenyan fan who said he will not stay to watch the second innings,as he knew the outcome already,An easy Sri lanka victory.
The start of the second innings we were all rallying behind the boys in green,and we were rewarded with an early wicket,the wicket of the extremely dangerous Sanath Jayasuriya with the score at 13/1, Marvan Attaputu brought back some sort of sanity to the Sri lankan batting hitting two consecutive boundaries,the Lankans raced to 30, until Thomas odoyo got the scalp of Attaputu,in doing so he got his 50th wicket in ODI’s.
Collins Obuya was brought into the fray as the first change bowler,this was a bit of surprise for us watching the game,we would have expected the more experienced Peter ongondo or Maurice Odumbe,but the skipper Steve tikolo seemed to know what he was doing.
And yes this decision yielded immediate results, suddenly we watched with joy as Sri Lanka’s batting was being dissected,by this young man’s masterful bowling,the masters of spin were now being tutored by the young Collins Obuya of Kenya, wickets fell regularly and our chants kept getting louder and louder, Collins went on to produce the best bowling performance by a Kenyan in his five wicket haul.The atmosphere at the Gymkhana was surreal this was the first time Kenyan fans got a chance to watch their team produce a giant killing act live in person.
Is this a dream or is it really happening,once Steve Tikolo got rid of Nissanka, victory was in sight,and victory came in the 44th over when Maurice Odumbe bowled Dillahara Fernando,it was all over Kenya had done it beating world cup favorites Sri Lanka by 53 runs,and what a bowling performance by Collins Obuya who spun the Sri Lankans to a convincing defeat,It was pandemonium at the Gymkhana this victory was like a dream,watching the kenyans do it at home was something special,a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What a day!Kenya made history again defying the odds.the Kenyan team produced another lesson of self belief.
I would just like to thank each and every member of the 2003 Kenya world cup team,for the life long lessons and the beautiful memories we will cherish forever.
YOU MADE US BELIEVE!