|Kenya, India, Sachin hit six of the best
JOHANNESBURG, March 1 (Reuters) - India and tournament minnows Kenya joined defending champions Australia in the World Cup Super Sixes on a day also marked by one of the great one-day innings.
Sachin Tendulkar may not have reached the magical three-figure mark but his was an innings of textbook savagery.
In imperious form, he crafted a brilliant 98 off 75 balls to pave the way for Indias six-wicket victory over Pakistan at Centurion in Group A.
Indias diminutive master batsman tore apart Pakistans much-vaunted pace attack and completely overshadowed the brave 101 scored by Pakistans left-handed opener Saaed Anwar earlier in the day.
Both Tendulkar and Anwar struggled with leg problems, the former with a thigh strain and cramping and the latter with a long-standing knee complaint.
Tendulkar, unleashing a range of powerful strokes to all parts of the ground, helped India race to 100 in 11 overs in reply to Pakistans 273 for seven.
His most memorable shot, though, came right at the start, when he cut Shoaib Akhtar, the fastest bowler in the world, for six off his fourth ball. It was an incredible shot, on an astounding day.
When Tendulkar finally departed, succumbing as much to his thigh strain as to a kicking Shoaib bouncer which looped to point, the hard work had been done with India on 177 for four.
Rahul Dravid (44 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (50 off 53 balls) shared in an unbroken 99-run stand to guide India home to their fourth World Cup win over Pakistan in four meetings.
India captain Saurav Ganguly, who made a first-ball duck and who is normally known for the sternest of miens, could not stop smiling at the end.
"Its been fantastic for us," he said. "It was a big game for us and a big game for a billion people back home.
"I havent seen a better innings for a long time."
India sealed victory with 4.2 overs to spare, joining defending champions Australia at the top of Group A with 20 points.
The third qualifying place will be fought out by Zimbabwe, England or Pakistan and could yet be decided on run rate.
Kenya, meanwhile, made history by becoming the first non-test nation to qualify for the tournaments second phase, beating Bangladesh by 32 runs in Group B at The Wanderers.
Former captain Maurice Odumbe was their inspiration, top-scoring with an unbeaten 52 in Kenyas 217 for seven before taking four for 38 in 10 overs as the Asian test side slumped to 185 all out.
Bangladesh lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Tushar Imran, with a composed 48, and Akram Khan, smashing a 58-ball 44, offering resistance.
While Akram was at the crease, Bangladesh always had some hope but all that ended with his dismissal in the 46th over, when he hoisted Kenya captain Steve Tikolos occasional off spin to deep mid-wicket.
Tikolo, whose side have one-day status but struggle to command regular fixtures against the worlds leading sides, was jubilant.
"I thought our score was enough, even though we were 20 to 30 runs short of what we should have got. But we defended 210 against Sri Lanka and we backed ourselves to defend the score today.
"Hopefully this means a lot to Kenyan cricket and, from here, Kenya cricket must be on the rise.
"From the word go, we believed we could make the Super Sixes and Im not surprised we are the first African team through."
"Today was the day to make it come true...the boys did it."
Kenya have 16 points in Group B, having won three games and been awarded a forfeit after New Zealand refused to travel to Nairobi over security concerns.
Sri Lanka, yet to qualify, also have 16 with South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand also still in contention.
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