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‘Hope the Indians won’t bully us’
- Sandeep Patil declines Kenyan offer to continue as coach

Durban: “I know India will come hard at us, but I hope we won’t be bullied,” was outgoing Kenyan coach Sandeep Patil’s initial response to a query on how he was preparing for Thursday’s semi-final No.2 of the World Cup.

Talking to The Telegraph at the Holiday Inn Elangeni, Sunday afternoon, Patil added: “Knowing Sachin Tendulkar, he will come out guns blazing... That he didn’t get runs in the Super Six game (Cape Town) is what will get him even more charged-up... So, I hope Sachin, specially, doesn’t bully us.”

Patil, though, is worried about injuries to three key players — the in-form Thomas Odoyo (groin injury), veteran Maurice Odumbe (hamstring problem) and Kennedy Obuya (struck by Brett Lee). Then, captain Steve Tikolo is down with a throat infection-induced fever.

“Things don’t look good at this point but, thankfully, we can wait for three days. Odumbe, in fact, wasn’t fit for the Zimbabwe match but, given its importance, we played him and the injury got aggravated,” Patil remarked.

Patil, a member of India’s 1983 World Cup-winning side and a former India coach, quipped: “Hopefully, I won’t have to come out of retirement... If I have to, I’ll probably borrow Sachin’s bat and Ashish Nehra’s trousers!” Patil (prematurely) quit international cricket at the start of the 1986-87 season.

Incidentally, Patil declined to speak at length about Thursday. “It’s best not to talk too much before a game because, otherwise, digesting everything later can become a problem ... But, yes, we should play good cricket... Personally, I’m in a win-win situation: Very happy if Kenya make it, very happy if India go to the final.”

The Super Six match went in India’s favour by six wickets.

Patil, meanwhile, has declined an offer from the Kenyan Cricket Association (KCA) to continue beyond the World Cup. “My mind was made up six months back and I’ll be returning to India once the tournament is over. The KCA has been very nice and I wish Kenyan cricket well. However, for family reasons, it’s not possible to stay on,” he said.

[That Patil would return to his roots was first reported in these columns earlier this month.]

‘Boost to self-belief’

Aasif Karim, MoM in the game versus Australia, feels the team’s “self-belief” has got a boost. “While we did lose by five wickets, the world champions were struggling at 100-odd for five... Also, despite our early setbacks, we played out the 50 overs,” Karim, a double international (he is also a Davis Cupper), pointed out.

Captain in the 1999 World Cup, Karim was pulled out of retirement on the eve of this edition — a decision the coach and selectors haven’t regretted. Significantly, Saturday’s MoM award was the left-arm spinner’s first.

Actually, Karim (39) is quite an allrounder: He publishes Kenya’s only sports magazine, too.

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