Adrian Robson, The Royal Gazette
Bermuda first innings 133 and 19-2
Kenya first innings 205
A Saleem Mukuddem inspired fightback saw Bermuda claw their way out of trouble and into a potential match-winning position on a rain-hit second day of their Intercontinental Cup clash against Kenya at Nairobi's Gymkhana ground yesterday.
Facing what might have developed into a hopeless first innings deficit after being bundled out for 133 on the opening day, Bermuda turned the tables on their hosts, bagging the Kenyans' last seven wickets for just 80 runs.
Mukuddem led the charge, finishing with international career-best figures of six for 50 off 14 overs while his pace partner Ryan Steede played no small part in Kenya's unexpected collapse, snatching three for 41.
The only blemish on a sensational afternoon of cricket came in fading light in the penultimate over of the day as Bermuda lost two quick wickets - nightwatchman Dwayne Leverock included - as they finished on 19-2 in their second innings, still 53 runs in arrears.
But with opener Kwame Steede and David Hemp due to resume this morning and most of the top order still to come, there's every chance Gus Logie's men can still force a result.
Captain Clay Smith, who for the second day didn't take to the field and also dropped down the order to give himself more time to recover from a leg injury picked up on Sunday, was upbeat as the side headed back to their hotel last night.
'We bowled tremendously well today,' said the skipper. 'Saleem was first class. We've done extremely well to get back into a position where the game is evenly balanced. We just have to try and see off the deficit with the two batsmen who are in now and then try to get a 150 to 200-run lead. 'I think that would give us a respectable chance of winning.
'Personally, I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I will bat, no doubt. But the less I have to do, the better. I have a lot of confidence in the guys. We still have a lot of our top guys to come. It's just a matter of one person getting a really big total to get us back in this game.'
After heavy rain had washed out yesterday's entire morning session and umpires Tony Hill of New Zealand and Buddhi Pradhan of Nepal had decided on an early lunch, the covers finally came off shortly after 2 p.m. with play resuming at 2.44.
And there were few signs of what was about to unfold as skipper Steve Tikolo and Tanray Mishra picked up where they had left off the night before, quickly accelerating Kenya's total past that of Bermuda's, Tikolo crushing two boundaries off Hemp to become the first player in the match to reach a half-century.
But just when it appeared he was set for another big total - he blasted 220 against Bermuda only last year - the hard-hitting skipper fell to a superb piece of Mukuddem athleticism. Pushing Tikolo onto the back foot, Mukuddem galloped down the pitch to grab a magnificent diving catch as the ball popped up into the air.
With Kenya's danger man gone for 66, the rest of the Kenya bats seemed to lose their way, just as coach Logie had predicted might happen. Mishra also went on to claim his half-century but only one other player reached double figures as Mukuddem and Steede ripped through the middle and bottom order.
Leverock's spin picked up the wicket of Collins Obuya (11), caught in front of the stumps by wicketkeeper Dean Minors to reduce Kenya to 163 for five, but the rest of the show belonged to the two seamers.
Mukuddem trapped Thomas Odoyo (0) lbw to make it 164 for six and then snapped up his sixth wicket, shattering the stumps of Jimmy Kamande (1) to leave the home team tottering at 170 for seven. New bat Nehemiah Odhiambo (7) and Mishra briefly threatened to rebuild the innings but when Steede replaced Mukuddem, the pendulum again swung back in Bermuda's favour.
In his second over, Steede removed Odhiambo, caught in the covers by Hemp as he attempted to drive and then dismissed the plucky Mishra (54), caught by Minors.
Fittingly it was Steede who wrapped up the innings for 205 as he had last man Varaiya caught by Hemp without scoring. Requiring 72 to get back on level terms, Bermuda openers Outerbridge and Kwame Steede will have been well aware of their responsibility as they stood up to some hostile bowling from Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo and Odhiambo.
The pair survived no less than four confident lbw appeals in the opening three overs and appeared to be growing in confidence and to have weathered the storm as the day's play drew to a close. But with the umpires having discussed the poor light and ordered play to continue, spinner Varaiya made the breakthrough, bamboozling Outerbridge (14) with a ball that cut back sharply.
Without the addition of a run, nightwatchman Leverock was undone by the same bowler, offering the wicketkeeper a simple catch, and from the relative comfort of 19 for nought with only one over remaining, Bermuda were suddenly 19 for two.
With more rain forecast for today, the onus will now be on the rest of the top order to make amends for their first innings capitulation, starting with Steede and Hemp this morning.