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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 08:30 GMT
Karim keeps Kenya rolling
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

The fear was that as Aasif Karim stooped low to claim a return catch off Brad Hogg he would remain there.

His 39-year-old back had already been twisted this way and that.

And now he was bent over, his hands by his bootlaces, attempting to claim a third wicket in eight balls.

But in a flash he had sprung upright again, the ball safely in his hands, grinning like a schoolboy.

Karim first played for Kenya 23 years ago - before Collins Obuya, the new find of Kenyan cricket, was born - and here he was enjoying himself more than ever.

Aasif Karim is congratulated by his team-mates
Karim came out of retirement for the World Cup
Captain during the last World Cup, Karim retired to concentrate on his job as an insurance broker.

But it was not the first time that he had faced a difficult decision about his cricket career.

In 1993 the choice was between two sports as Karim opted to turn his back on a promising career as a tennis professional.

He had been good enough to earn a four-and-a-half-year tennis scholarship in America and he later captained his country in the Davis Cup.

But as his cricket commitments grew, so his decision was made for him.

It was a plea by the Kenyan cricket authorities that convinced him to come out of retirement for this World Cup.

And after Saturday's performance against Australia - 8.2-6-7-3 - no one but the Aussie batsmen will have any regrets.

His figures could have been better, too, but he went for a boundary off his last ball as Australia completed an unconvincing five-wicket win.

Bowling jittery left-arm spin, Australia's batsmen simply did not have an answer to his accuracy or unorthodox style.

But it was his clutch of wickets that was most memorable.

His fifth ball accounted for Ricky Ponting, who went back to one that hurried on and trapped him lbw.

Then came Darren Lehmann, who played for spin only to watch a ball that was clearly fizzing in a clockwise direction turn the other way and catch the edge.

If those are the tricks learned after more than two decades in the game, heaven help the batsmen at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

And then came Hogg's checked drive back in to the hands of the bowler.

Karim had three wickets to his name before he had even conceded a run.

In 32 one-day internationals had never previously won a Man of the Match award, but here he beat hat-trick hero Brett Lee to the R12,500 gold watch.

"I saw it as my duty to come back and serve my country," Karim said afterwards.

And serve it he did.

Links to more Kenya stories


Australia too good for brave Kenya
15 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Have Your Say on Kenya
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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