Adrian Robson (The Royal Gazette, Bermuda)
Bermuda's inexperience in the longer version of the game was again cruelly exposed on the opening day of this Intercontinental Cup clash at the Nairobi Gymkhana ground yesterday. Beaten by nine wickets earlier this summer in the same competition by hosts Canada and thrashed by this same Kenyan team in Namibia last year, Gus Logie's side showed few signs of having adapted to the requirements of four-day cricket.
But for an inspired bowling spell from Saleem Mukuddem, who snapped up three precious early order wickets in the final session of the day, and a belligerent show of defiance from their tailend batsmen, Bermuda's position might have been much worse than it now looks. However, with Kenya finishing the day just eight runs shy of their opponents' total with seven first innings wickets still in hand and captain Steve Tikolo - the same Tikolo who thundered a double century against Bermuda in Namibia - looking in imperious form, the outlook isn't particularly bright.
Tikolo said at stumps it was his goal to bat throughout the second day today, set Bermuda a huge total and hopefully bag the necessary 20 points which will keep alive his side's hopes of advancing to next year's second stage of the competition.
Logie, meanwhile, will be desperate for early wickets this morning as his team, too, are aware that only an outright victory can maintain their interest in the tournament. But with key players Irving Romaine (groin) and Kevin Hurdle (shoulder) both left out of the line-up after picking up injuries at the Pretoria Cricket Academy last week and skipper Clay Smith failing to come out onto the field for the Kenya innings after suffering a leg strain during his time at the crease, Bermuda are facing a monumental battle.
Smith was one of the few success stories yesterday in a Bermuda innings which, all too predictably, lacked application and patience. The skipper composed a useful 23, a score topped only by Dean Minors' attractive 29, as four of the top order bats failed to reach double figures, debutant David Hemp included. Glamorgan's captain could manage just three runs in a stay at the crease that lasted only eight balls - hardly the start the 35-year-old had wanted after waiting more than a year to make his first international appearance.
To Kenya's credit, having won the toss, they made the most of some early movement off the seam, Thomas Odoyo looking particularly impressive as he dismissed Hemp and both openers in a haul of five for 23 in just 11 overs.
After early morning rain had delayed the start for half an hour, Kenya, four of whose players also returned from the cricket academy in Pretoria on Saturday, wasted little time in stamping their authority on the match, Odoyo proving the chief destroyer.
Stephen Outerbridge made a confident start, square cutting to the boundary in the first over but it wasn't long before Odoyo and his pace partner Peter Ongondo took control. In just the third over Kwame Tucker (2) became the day's first casualty, a thick edge providing wicketkeeper Maurice Ouma with a comfortable catch off Odoyo.
From seven for one, Bermuda's position quickly deteriorated to eight for two, Outerbridge (6), like his departed partner, facing just 10 balls before becoming Odoyo's second victim, snapped up at second slip by Collins Obuya.
With Hemp striding out on his debut to join skipper Smith, there was no doubt belief in the Bermuda camp that the two veterans, whose contributions with the bat could shape the success of this five-week tour, would quickly right the ship.
Instead a poor start became something of a nightmare as the county left hander, never looking entirely comfortable against the pace of Odoyo, survived just eight balls before glancing through to the slip cordon where Tikolo safely held the catch.
Wobbling at 16 for three, Bermuda found themselves in an all too familiar position. And although Mukuddem added some stability in a composed knock of 14 which produced a much-needed 33-run stand with Smith, when he too ran out of patience, offering a simple catch to Odoyo at long-on off the spin of Hiren Varaiya, the morning carnage resumed.
New bat Janeiro Tucker survived for only eight balls before flicking a catch to Collins Obuya in the gully off young pacer Nehemiah Odhiambo, having added only one to the score. And at the lunch break Bermuda trudged into the pavilion with the scoreboard reading a woeful 58 for five.
The second session couldn't have started any worse when Smith, the one player who might have been able to rebuild Bermuda's innings, fell on just the second ball after the break, edging a catch behind to Ouma off Odhiambo, although the manner in which he stood his ground and expression on his face suggested he wasn't at all impressed with umpire Budhhi Pradhan's decision.
At 59 for six, there was now real danger that the visitors might not reach triple figures and when incoming batsman Hasan Durham saw the stumps shattered as he attempted a suicidal second run with Minors, the situation appeared dire. But having raised his finger, umpire Pradhan then consulted with colleague Tony Hill and ruled that the ball had been ‘dead'.
That strange ‘u-turn' offered a lifeline and temporarily changed Bermuda's fortunes, Durham knuckling down to provide a perfect foil for the hard-hitting Minors. Between them they amassed a 35 valuable runs, the best partnership of the innings - Durham prodding and pushing, and Minors entertaining with some delightful strokeplay.
Minors eventually went for 29, trapped lbw by Odoyo and on the very next ball Ryan Steede fell in exactly the same fashion, offering the Kenyan chance of a hat-trick. Big Dwayne Leverock put paid to those plans and, first with Durham, and later with last-man Stefan Kelly, batted out the final 18 overs of the innings to add a measure of respectability to the total.
Leverock compiled an entertaining 15, Durham a gritty 20 while young Kelly rarely looked troubled as he remained unbeaten on seven, all three tailenders providing the kind of resistance which had been lacking higher up the order.
But with just 133 runs on the board, it was difficult to see how Bermuda's bowlers could effectively defend that total. Yet Mukuddem provided a ray of hope in an astonishing six-over spell which sent three of Kenya's top bats back into the pavilion after both opening bowlers, Steede and Kelly, had failed to make the breakthrough.
With Hemp also brought into the attack at the other end, it was the South African who drew first blood, having Ouma caught by Minors behind the wicket for 11 on the first ball of his second over. In his next over he scythed through the defence of Tony Suji (0) to clean bowl the number three bat, and then got rid of David Obuya (35), holding a catch off his own bowling and leaving the Kenyans in a spot of bother at 68 for three.
But that was to be his and Bermuda's last success of the day, Tikolo (45 not out) and partner Tammay Mishra (22 not out) combining to put the home side into a commanding position at stumps.