The leap day of the year 1996 saw one of the biggest upsets of contemporary international cricket. On the leap day of 2020 i.e. 24 years after the said match, here is a look at how an upset caused on 29th February, 1996 changed the course of Kenyan cricket.
Kenya, who made their debut in ODI cricket in the 1996 World Cup, were up against a strong West Indies team in a group match of the 1996 World Cup. In the 20th match of the 1996 World Cup being played in Pune, West Indies won the toss and decided to field.
The Kenyan batsmen struggled against the mighty West Indian bowling attack comprising Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop and Cameron Cuffy. The said bowlers picked up 7 wickets between them and the remaining 3 wickets of the Kenyan innings were picked up by the spinner Roger Harper.The Kenyan team were bundled out for a paltry score of 166 with Steve Tikolo being the top scorer by scoring 29 runs.
Very few cricketing experts would have anticipated what would have happened in the second innings of the match. A strong West Indian batting line up comprising Campbell, Richardson, Lara, Chanderpaul, Arthurton and Adams collapsed like a pack of cards. Out of the top 6 batmen, only Chanderpaul could reach double digits and scored 19 runs which was the highest score for West Indies.
West Indies were bundled out for a score of 93 in 35. 2 overs and the entire cricket community was in a state of shock. Maurice Odumbe picked up 3 wickets for 15 runs in 10 overs and picked up crucial wickets of Chanderpaul, Adams and Harper and was adjudged the Man of the Match for his heroics with the ball .
Rajab Ali too picked up 3 wickets in the innings. Apart from Chanderpaul, only Harper reached the score of double digits.
The entire West Indian team was in a state of shock. The winners of the 1975 and 1979 World Cup and the runners-up of the 1983 World Cup were defeated comprehensively by Kenya.
This was the first loss of West Indies to an associate in ODI cricket. West Indies however quickly recovered from the shocking defeat and made it to the semi-finals of the 1996 World Cup.
Kenya's rise and fall
Kenya, taking confidence from their win against West Indies in the 1996 World Cup, made rapid strides in international cricket and were a force to reckon with in the next few years. They defeated teams like Zimbabwe, India and Sri Lanka and were not taken lightly by the opponents. They stunned one and all by qualifying for the semi finals of the 2003 World Cup. Since then they have struggled to replicate their performance at the 2003 World Cup and the next generation of Kenyan players have failed to make it on the big stage.
The defeat of West Indies at the hands of Kenya on the leap day of 1996 was indeed a memorable day in the history of cricket which gave belief to the minnows of cricket that on their day, they could beat the best in the business.