CHENNAI, February 20- New Zealand thrashed Kenya by 10 wickets in the World Cup on Sunday, making a mockery of the African nation's campaign to feature at the slimmed-down 2015 edition.
Fast bowler Hamish Bennett finished with 4-16, his best figures in nine one-day internationals, while Tim Southee and Jacob Oram took three wickets each to bowl out the minnows for just 69 off just 23.5 overs.
It was Kenya’s lowest World Cup total and the fifth worst in tournament history.
Their capitulation came at the worst possible time for the sport’s second-tier nations with the International Cricket Council determined to have a 10-nation World Cup, instead of the current 14 teams, in four years’ time.
New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (39) and Brendon McCullum (26) raced to the target in only eight overs to bring an early end to the game played before near-empty stands in 30-degree heat at the 50,000-capacity Chidambaram Stadium.
Guptill hit two sixes and five fours in his 32-ball knock. McCullum, batting in his favourite position, hit fours fours, three of them in what turned out to be the final over by Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande.
"I don’t think it was the wicket, it was the areas New Zealand bowled," said Kamande. "We’ve got to be more positive in whatever we do. They came very hard at us. We have to learn from this performance today."
Bennett, named man-of-the match, said it was good to bounce back in tough conditions after the 117-run defeat to India in a warm-up game last week.
"It had been tough for us after the India game," he said.
"Hopefully it won’t get much hotter than this for the rest of the tournament. It is pretty tough to get used to."
The decision to bat first backfired for Kenya as half of the side was cooling its heels in the pavilion by the 16th over.
New-ball bowler Southee started the rot by dismissing opener Alex Obanda in the seventh over before first-change Bennett got into the act by removing promising youngster Seren Waters (16) in his second over.
Bennett, a replacement for the more experienced but injured Kyle Mills, had Kenya in deep trouble when he sent back veteran Steve Tikolo (two) and Collins Obuya (14) off the second and fifth deliveries in his next over.
Tikolo lost his off-stump to a peach of a delivery and Obuya was struck plumb in front of the wicket, leaving Kenya in deep rut at 44-4.
Kenya asked for a review of Obuya’s decision, only to be disappointed as replays showed the ball would have hit the middle stump.
Former captain Maurice Ouma became the fourth victim of the 23-year-old Bennett, trapped leg before for one.
Oram joined the bowlers’ party, accounting for Kamande, Thomas Odoyo and Elijah Otieno in three overs.
Southee was on a hat-trick when he removed Nehemiah Odhiambo and Shem Ngoche with the last two balls of his sixth over.
But there was no second international hat-trick for him, with Otieno flicking Oram straight to midwicket shortly afterwards to end the misery for Kenya.
"The wicket had a bit of variable bounce, which our seamers exploited," said Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori. "There are some big games coming up so it was good to start like this."
Kenya, semi-finalists of the 2003 edition, next take on Pakistan in Hambantota on on Feb 23 and New Zealand play Australia in Nagpur two days later.