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Baptiste urges Kenya to refocus

HAMBANTOTA, February 24- Kenyan coach Eldine Baptiste said he would have to go back to the drawing board after two crushing defeats but insisted it was too early to write off the World Cup's minnows.

Kenya went down to a huge 205-run defeat in their second Group A match against Pakistan on Wednesday, conceding 317 for seven before they were dismissed for just 112 all out, with Shahid Afridi taking five wickets.

Baptiste, who took over as coach in September 2009, said his players urgently needed an injection of self belief.

"On the big stage I know these boys can do that, and I have to drive the confidence in them for the remaining four matches," said Baptiste, whose team were shot out for 69 in their 10-wicket defeat against New Zealand on Sunday.

Pakistan were indebted to four half-centuries after struggling early in their innings, crawling to just 12-2 after seven overs, a good position Baptiste said his team squandered.

"We did show some improvement from the last game against New Zealand as we started well bowling-wise in the first 25 overs, but again we slipped in the middle and were very poor in the end," said Baptiste.

Kenyan bowlers conceded 46 extras, including a one-day record-equalling 37 wides, 20 off them by opening bowler Thomas Odoyo.

"We were not up to the mark in all three departments and in cricket whatever you do you have to stick to the basics and when you play a team like Pakistan or any international side you don’t spurn your good starts.

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"It’s about being persistent and at the moment we are just not doing that," said Baptiste, who played 10 Tests and 43 one-day internationals for the West Indies.

"As a coach I know my responsibilities and I have to go back to the drawing board and again make sure that the guys are up for the next game against Sri Lanka," said Baptiste, whose team plays the co-hosts on March 1 in Colombo.

Baptiste admitted his job as coach of Kenya was difficult.

"When I took the job I knew the enormity of it and I know that I have to go and get the 15 guys to revive their self-belief, because you cannot play cricket like that," said Baptiste.

When asked whether his team’s dismal showings justified the decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to cut the next World Cup to ten teams from the current 14, likely freezing out the smaller nations, Baptiste hit back.

"What is the reality?" he asked. "The reality is that we have played two bad games and that’s easy to say that, but you have to look at the way Holland played."

The Netherlands pushed England hard in their clash in the Indian city of Nagpur after notching an impressive 292-6. England squeezed home by six wickets with just eight balls remaining.

"So when we play bad games, it’s no credit, but when we play well they must give credit. Cricket is a funny game and we can stage a comeback, provided we stick to basics," said Baptiste.

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