Bangalore: Ricky Ponting doesn't think sides like Kenya belong at the World Cup, but the African team made its point in the best way possible with its performance against Ponting's Australia on Sunday.
The ICC's decision to reduce the tournament from 14 to 10 teams from 2015 has been a talking point throughout much of the group stage, and Kenya had hardly strengthened its case with comprehensive defeats in its first four games.
It turned out Jimmy Kamande's side was saving its best for the four-time champions.
After Australia set a target of 325 in Bangalore, Kenya's batting collapse never materialized and the Australian bowlers managed to take only three wickets, with the other three batsmen falling to runouts, as Kenya got to 264-6 in 50 overs.
"We didn't come here to prove anything to anybody," Kamande said. "What we did in qualifying for this World Cup was the most important thing for us."
However, Kamande dismissed Ponting's theory that the Associate teams don't learn anything from playing at the World Cup, arguing that Kenya's development relies on the opportunity to test itself against the top teams.
"One thing I know for sure is that if we keep playing against the Test-playing nations, the performance will be there," he said. "The worst thing is that after this World Cup we might go and never see these teams again so it also becomes very difficult.
"Look at all the Associate teams that are playing now, there's some improvement in some departments after each game ... Whoever says we don't deserve to be here, that's his own opinion, but I believe we did a lot."
Having started the tournament with a miserable score of 69 against New Zealand, Kenya has gradually improved with each game, culminating in its best score by some distance against Australia and its much-vaunted pace attack.
Tanmay Mishra scored his second half-century of the tournament, while Collins Obuya fell just two runs short of what would have been a famous century against the three-time defending champion.
Needing three runs off the last ball, Obuya could only manage a single — but he still received the man-of-the-match award.
"I'm disappointed (not to get a century)," the 29-year-old Obuya said. "But ... each and every day against Australia you don't get a score like that.
"The last ball, I just wanted it very very badly, like 100 would be very very good in (my) record, and I just hope for next time, or maybe next match against Zimbabwe, I'll get there."
Ponting was probably right when he said that if he had chosen to bowl when he won the toss, Australia's win might have been much more convincing — but Kenya at least made the most of its chance, at last.