| Brett Lee celebrates his hattrick with skipper Ricky Ponting at Kingsmead in Durban Saturday. (Reuters)
Durban: A Brett Lee hattrick helped Australia to a record 15th successive win against Kenya in the World Cup on Saturday but they were given a scare by veteran spinner Asif Karim before sealing a five-wicket win.
Lee’s hattrick, the fourth in World Cup history, reduced Kenya to three for three after being put in.
They recovered to reach 174 for eight but some brutal hitting by Adam Gilchrist, with a 43-ball 67, seemed to have set Australia on course to an easy win in the day-night encounter.
Left-armer Karim, however, at 39 the oldest player left in he tournament, then took three wickets in his first two overs to reduce Ricky Ponting’s side to 117 for five.
Karim finished with three for seven from 8.2 overs and it took some cautious batting from Andrew Symonds (33 n.o.) to end Kenya’s dream of an upset as the world champions reached their target with 18.2 overs in hand.
The Super Six game had not great meaning, with both sides already qualified for the semi-finals, where Australia will play Sri Lanka and Kenya will take on India.
The Kenyans’ spirited performance, however, served as excellent preparation for their semi-final match at the same venue on Thursday.
The chances of the game lasting until the floodlights came on looked remote when Lee took his hattrick, becoming the second man after Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas to do it in this tournament.
It was the 17th in one-day Internationals and the fourth in World Cup history after Chetan Sharma of India, Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq and Vaas.
Continuing the lethal form that brought him five wickets for three runs in 15 balls at the end of the last match against New Zealand, Lee struck with the last three balls of his second over.
He bowled Kennedy Otieno with a sharply rising ball that cannoned into the stumps off the batsman’s left elbow and left Otieno writhing on the ground in agony.
X-rays revealed no fracture and he is expected to be fit in time for Thursday’s game.