THE MAGIC SPELL: AASIF KARIM

The Game: Australia vs Kenya

The Venue: Kingsmead,Durban,South Africa

The Stage: World Cup Super Sixes

Date: 15th March 2003

Both teams were already through to the world cup semi finals,but neither team wanted to let the foot of the pedal and lose the momentum that had carried them through.

The Australians were unbeaten since the 1999 world cup, and the Kenyans were having a cinderella run in the event.

Kenya went into Bat and was in serious trouble early on, as Brett Lee claimed the fourth hatrick of world cup cricket in the process injuring Kenyan wicket-keeper, Kennedy Obuya and leaving Kenya reeling at 3/3. It took grit, determination and cautious batting, to remove the Kenyans from the Spot of bother to a somewhat respectable total of 174/8 in 50 overs, a total that was never going to cause the Aussies any difficulty chasing down. Noteworthy mention in the Kenyan batting was their skipper Steve Tikolo who constructed brilliant innings of 51 to lead the recovery and was ably supported by Ravindu Shah, Hitesh Modi, and Martin Suji who were all handy with the bat that day.

The Kingsmead wicket is known to produce swing in the evening and that’s what the Kenyans may have relied on to get a few early wickets, but after 5 overs and Australia at 50/0 any hopes of swing evaporated as both openers sent Martin suji’s deliveries flying all over Durban, Kenya’s other Paceman Peter Ongondo fared a little better and getting a breakthrough, with the wicket of Mathew Hayden, the Aussie’s still didn’t release their foot off the pedal as they raced away to 98 in 11 overs, that’s when Peter Ongondo struck again dismissing Adam Gilchrist.

The Kenyan Skipper Steve Tikolo must have sensed an early night to proceedings and brought in the veteran of two world cups, the elder statesman of the team and former national team captain 39-year-old Insurance broker Aasif Karim, to have him bowl a couple of overs and call it a night in a few overs.

Aasif Karim born 15th December 1963, just three days after Kenya attained its independence, born in the port city of Mombasa he was the son of Mombasa Tennis legend Yusuf Karim, Yusuf was such a brilliant Tennis player that he was known as the King of Tennis in East Africa, Aasif got his sporting genes from his Dad, and represented Kenya for the first time while still in his teens, and was an integral part of the Kenya cricket setup from the early ’80s, furthermore Aasif is such a sterling sportsman that he is the only person to have captained the country both at tennis and cricket.

On this particular night in Durban, anyone seeing Karim bowl,wouldnt have given his slow loop bowling a chance.

After facing a couple of dot balls in his first over Ricky Ponting, succumbed to Karim’s loops, second in line to perish to Karim’s loops was Darren Lehman a veteran in the Aussie squad who looked like a nervous amateur facing Karim, third to go was Brad Hogg who was clueless to the loops and ended up giving Karim a simple catch, and his third wicket, Karim bowled a magical spell of 8.2-6-7-3 that earned him the man of the match, that night Aasif Karim also earned a spot in Cricket world cup history as one of the most economic spells in world cup cricket, he also found a place in the hearts of millions of cricket fans across the world, with his performance.

Getting his Man of the match award from Barry Richards

It is moments like these that make cricket so special. sadly with the reduction of teams in cricket world cups, we may never witness another magical spell like we did from Karim, and for those who saw it will be a memory forever etched in their mind.

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