Bermuda slumped to their second successive defeat in the one-day series against Kenya yesterday, outplayed and out-thought in a seven-wicket reverse which again demonstrated how much work is required as they continue their build-up to next year's World Cup. Unlike their loss on the same Mombasa Sports Ground a day earlier, where they went down by 79 runs, it was an inept bowling performance rather than their batting that let the side down.
Kenya's inspirational skipper Steve Tikolo and Tanmay Mishra both eased their way to unbeaten half-centuries in a stand worth 103 which sealed the win and the series for the host side, but in truth the damage had been done long before they arrived at the crease.
Having managed to post a reasonable target of 183, after overight rain had delayed the start of the match by one and a half hours and reduced the overs to 42 per side, Bermuda saw all that good work undone in a matter of minutes as Kenya's openers smashed 29 runs off the first three overs and brought up the 50 inside seven overs.
That lightning start, thanks mainly to the wayward bowling of Kevin Hurdle, who gave up 55 runs in his seven overs, allowed Tikolo and Mishra to guide their team to an unhurried and untroubled victory.
There were, however, some high points for Bermuda after they won the toss and chose to bat. Dean Minors, moved into the opener's slot to replace Stephen Outerbridge, responded with a well-crafted 29, Janeiro Tucker (50) compiled the first half-century for a visiting player on this tour, and new recruit David Hemp finally showed his prowess with the bat, hitting a polished 41 which included two towering sixes, one of which flew into the visiting side's enclosure, scattering his team-mates. Teenager Malachi Jones also showed promise with an attractive innings of 23.
But after Kenya openers Maurice Ouma (18) and David Obuya (27) laid into the Bermuda attack with a brutal early assault, there was never much doubt about the result. Ouma was the first to go in the fourth over, trapped lbw by Mukuddem, and the latter struck again in the eighth over to remove Obuya the same way. But by then 50 valuable runs had already been posted.
The introduction of spinners Dwayne Leverock and Hasan Durham slowed Kenya's progress considerably, Leverock picking up the only other wicket to fall, that of Tony Suji as his attempted sweep sailed into the hands of Hurdle. The big man was particularly impressive, taking one for 33 in his nine overs with two maidens, while Durham also checked the run rate with his seven-over spell which yielded 29 runs without reward.
However, after Tikolo had been dropped by Hemp in the deep as the skipper skied a delivery off Hurdle when he was still in single figures, there was never much chance Bermuda could pull this match out of the fire. Together Tikolo and Mishra, requiring little more than three runs an over, bided their time, picking off the bad balls and ensuring there would be no further scares.
While Bermuda's bats had earlier shown plenty of enterprise after a typical sluggish start - they managed just 29 runs in the first 10 overs - the pace of Thomas Odoyo, later voted man of the match, caused them more than a few problems. Odoyo finished with excellent figures of four for 25 off nine overs while spinner Hiren Varaiya again played a key role in his side's success, claiming two for 24 off eight.
The hole that Bermuda seemingly always dig themselves into appeared as early as the third over when Kwame Tucker was caught and bowled by Odoyo for three with the total on just six. His replacement, Outerbridge, didn't last much longer, falling for two in the ninth over with 24 runs on the board, caught behind by Ouma off Odoyo.
Minors, sensibly mixing aggression with a solid defence, seemed to be getting Bermuda back on track with skipper Irving Romaine. But with his very first ball in the 16th over, Varaiya tempted Minors into the big slog and Odoyo took a straightforward catch on the mid-wicket boundary.In the same over, and without any addition to the score, Romaine (12) played a thick edge which Tikolo caught superbly at first slip. At 49 for four, Bermuda were again on the back foot.
But what followed was the best partnership of the tour so far, Hemp and Janeiro Tucker - both in need of confidence-boosting innings - spraying the ball to all corners of the ground.Together they brought up the 100 in the 30th over and when Hemp blasted Varaiya for a second six, it seemed Bermuda had fully recovered from the early setbacks.
However, a stand worth 67 was finally broken by that man Odoyo as he ripped out Hemp's off stump, leaving the total on 116 for five. Mukuddem contributed seven before he too was undone by Odoyo, caught by Peter Ongondo. Then Jones and Tucker provided another useful partnership of 33 before the Southampton Rangers skipper, having completed his half-century, went for one big hit too many and was bowled by Nehemiah Odhiembo.
With overs rapidly running out, Jones too was forced to swing the willow and was the eighth and last man out, also bowled by Odhiembo.
The third and final match of the series is scheduled in Mombasa tomorrow, following today's rest day.