Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND defied illness and the role of underdog going into the fourth innings to complete one of the more remarkable international matches with their winning Intercontinental Cup record intact.
The result was a 10 runs victory over Kenya in Mombasa, but that doesn't begin to tell the story of a game scheduled for four days but completed with 23 overs left on day two. The team bowled out for 75 in the game's first innings, bounced back to defend 118 in the last and, having set up a record of 22 catches in the game on day one, the books were being thumbed through again as Ireland's 20 wickets were shared by just two bowlers.
Inevitably, on a pitch which surprised even the hosts by taking turn from the first morning, it was slow left armer George Dockrell and off spinner Albert van der Merwe who ripped through the Kenya batting, the 19 year old Somerset professional finishing with match figures of nine for 87. But he was upstaged by van der Merwe won the man of the match award for taking 11 for 68.
The fact that Dockrell bowled at all yesterday, however, was a feat in itself. He slept in the dressing room for most of the morning as he and his room-mate, Ed Joyce, were victims of a stomach upset.
The Ireland plan, when they resumed on 81 for two, just 47 in front, was to get through to lunch to allow their ill team-mates as long as possible to recover. But not only did Joyce have to go in 15 minutes before the break but having added just three runs to his impressive overnight 51, Dockrell had to replace him and he failed to get off the mark, Ireland all out for 152, as the last five wickets fell for four runs.
At lunch, victory seemed a formality for Kenya but their victory target was still 10 more than they managed in the first innings. Still, Dockrell's presence was key.
As his captain, William Porterfield, put it afterwards: "He just came on and got on with it. He did everything he could, fronted up for the team and on a deck that was spinning he took the ball away from the bat and that helped us massively."
For the second time in the match he took a wicket in his first over, followed up with another in his second and then, in a golden spell of 23 balls for Ireland, Kenya lost four wickets without a single run being scored. When van der Merwe made it 36 for eight, it looked as if the game would be over before tea but a ninth wicket stand of 58 held up the rampant Irish.
It shouldn't and wouldn't have been as long if Gary Wilson had held on to a catch behind or, missed a stumping, but Ireland never panicked and 30 overs after the eighth wicket, van der Merwe finally took the ninth.
Even then it wasn't safe for Ireland and No 11 Shem Ngoche came in and hit Dockrell for a four and a six in the same over but, fittingly, it was the South African who finished the game with his first six-wicket haul for Ireland.
Porterfield was relieved rather than euphoric afterwards. "The way we bowled was fantastic, and for the spinners to take all the wickets was great to see."
"It was a difficult pitch for batsmen to to start on and a lot of wickets fell in bursts. Some batsmen didn't help themselves with some of the dismissals, there was some poor cricket played at times, but it was a scrap and we put in a strong mental performance in the end. And that will stand us in good stead moving forward (to the ODIs, starting on Saturday).