'I don't think we expected it to be that easy'
New Zealand thumped Kenya by 10 wickets in a lop-sided Group A match of the World Cup on Sunday that appears to justify bids to trim the 2015 edition of the showpiece event by leaving out the whipping boys.
The sparse crowd at the MA Chidambaram Stadium witnessed a total mis-match as New Zealand unleashed their pace trio of Tim Southee (3-13), Hamish Bennett (4-16) and Jacob Oram (3-2) to bundle out Kenya for a meagre 69 in 23.5 overs and returned to overwhelm the target in eight overs.
There was not much room for batting practice chasing a 70-run victory target but openers Martin Guptill (39) and Brendon McCullum (26) stroked some easy boundaries before completing the chase.
The outcome strengthens the International Cricket Council's bid for a 10-team World Cup in 2015, accommodating the weaker teams in the Twenty20 World Cup instead.
"I don't think we expected it to be that easy," New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori told reporters after a perfect start to the tournament suggested the team was determined to put behind a poor build-up that included whitewash against Bangladesh.
"To bowl well and allow the batsmen such a small chase is always pleasing. It was a fantastic efforts by the bowlers," he added.
Image: Hamish Bennett celebrates after claiming a Kenyan wicket
Kenya's batsmen flummoxed
Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande won the toss and opted to bat first before a horror story unfolded in front of his eyes.
Two days before he turns 24, Bennett ran through the top order as Kenya's top half was back in the hut even before the team total had reached the 50-run mark.
Openers Alex Obanda (6) and Seren Waters (16) began cautiously even if run-rate was nothing to write home about.
Image: Kenya's Steve Tikolo is clean bowled by Bennett
Only three Kenyan batsmen managed double digit scores
Southee dismissed Nehemiah Odhiambo and Shem Ngoche off the last two deliveries of his sixth over but could not get a chance to complete his hat-trick as Oram removed Elijah Otieno for a duck to drop the curtains on the Kenyan innings.
Oram flashed a shy smile as he waved apologetically to Southee.
Only three Kenyan batsmen -- Waters, Collins Obuya (14) and Rakep Patel (15 not out) -- managed double digit scores as Kenya were bundled out for the lowest score recorded at the Chidambaram Stadium. It was also the fifth lowest total in ODIs.
Image: New Zealand fans wave the flag during the match against Kenya
Photographs: Getty Images
'We were nervous today'
"We were nervous today but the New Zealand bowlers really bowled well," Kamande said, denying the team was under pressure to perform to justify their presence in one day cricket's biggest stage.
"There was no such pressure. It's up to ICC to decide whether they want 10, five or 50 teams in the World Cup but the thing is the more we get to play against these (test) teams, the better we become."
New Zealand missed Kyle Mills' service through a sore back but off-spinner Nathan McCullum recovered from fever to open the attack, a move that is getting increasingly popular among the visiting teams.
Image: New Zealand's Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill celebrate victory
Bennett picks man-of-the-match award on WC debut
Bennett took fancy to beating the blade and hitting the pad of the flummoxed Kenyan batsmen, claiming three of his four victims lbw and he expects his performance will help his case for regular selections.
An elated Bennett, who will turn 24 on Tuesday, said he is glad to make an impression.
"I just said to myself that I will go straight and try to bowl hard and full to skid off the wicket and wrap the pads of batsmen.
"Whenever there is a chance, you got to try and take it. I got a good result and hopefully I can keep pushing for my selection," said Bennett, who picked the man of the match award in his World Cup debut.
Image: Hamish Bennett with the man-of-the-match trophy
Photographs: Getty Images