Minnows would be eager to show their worth

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Vijay Vedala

Mumbai, Feb 17 (PTI) Amid reports that the ICC couldmake the next World Cup a 10-team affair, the four Associateteams -- Kenya, Netherlands, Canada, and Ireland -- would beeager to show their worth in the mega-event that starts onFebruary 19.

Though there would be no burden of expectations on anyof these Associate members, down to four from the previousedition''s six, Kenya and Ireland have in the past shown thatopposition teams cannot take them for granted.

While Kenya shocked everyone by becoming the first ICCAssociate member to reach the semi-finals in 2003, theIrishmen became the cause of Pakistan''s first round exit in2007 before making the Super Eight stage.

In fact, Kenya''s six wins in 23 World Cup games bettersSri Lanka''s four wins in their first 26 Cup matches and ismore than the Test-playing Bangladesh''s five wins in 20 games.

Playing their fifth World Cup, since making their debutin 1996, the Afican team has defeated higher ranked teams WestIndies (in 1996), Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and aforfeit win against New Zealand (all during their dream run in2003), besides the two victories against Canada in 2003 and2007.

With their sole victory over Canada not enough to getthem past the first round from a group also involving Englandand New Zealand in 2007, Kenya would be hoping for a bettershow this time around.

Placed in Group ''A'', Kenya''s fortunes will depend on theperformances of key players like the experienced duo of SteveTikolo, who has been coaxed to come out of retirement, andThomas Odoyo, the first player from a non-Test playing team toachieve the double of 1500 runs and 100 wickets in ODIs.

They are the only two Kenyan cricketers who have featuredin the team''s previous four appearances in the tournament.

Besides, the 2003 leg-spinning hero Collins Obuya, who hassince then reinvented himself as a batsman, and pacer PeterOngondo would also have to play a crucial role for the team.

On the other hand Ireland, playing in their second WorldCup, would be eager to reproduce the form that saw themreaching the second round, ahead of the more establishedPakistan and Zimbabwe, where they registered a 74-run win overBangladesh, four years ago..

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