Ireland up and running in Kenya
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
It may be nine days late but Ireland's tour of Kenya is finally up and running. A comprehensive 117 runs victory in the second one-day international in Mombasa puts Ireland clear at the top of the World Cricket League championship, the World Cup qualifying table.
In a classic case of favourites rarely failing twice in a row, the two-times World Cup finalists confirmed National Coach Phil Simmons' assertion that Saturday's seven wickets defeat was just a bad day at the office as they stormed back to dismiss Kenya for 120.
Ed Joyce, still the only Irish batsman to have scored a half century on this tour, was man of the match after hitting 88 in Ireland's 237 for nine. Even his innings was divided into two distinct phases, the first 15 overs against the spinners when he had to fight for every run on a pitch which again turned early, and the next 25 when he used his feet much more confidently and ended up with eight boundaries, three of them maximums.
Frustratingly, despite passing 50 for the third time since his return to Ireland colours at the World Cup 12 months ago, he was out for the third time in the 80s, caught at short mid-wicket with plenty of time (20 balls) to reach that elusive century.
"I did think about it. I hit the six and literally thought to knock the next ball away, but the ball just gripped and bounced and (he was caught at short mid-wicket). It was one of those things. I thought I batted well enough to get a hundred so was disappointed," admitted Joyce, although just relieved to get the win.
"This was the biggest game we have had for some time. Having lost the first one you didn't want to be four out of six games and these were two games we felt we should have won both, and looking back we should have won the first but just batted very, very poorly in that game."
The Ireland innings got off to its usual customary false start yesterday with William Porterfield, Paul Stirling and Alex Cusack back in the pavilion inside the first 10 overs and then Gary Wilson and Kevin O'Brien helped Joyce lead the recovery before getting out when seemingly well set.
It needed 28 from 34 balls by Andrew White and John Mooney (23 not out off 14) to give the innings much needed momentum at the end but a target of 238 was by no means out of reach for Kenya if the Ireland bowling did not improve on Saturday's display.
Rankin again led the way with a fast, accurate opening burst which yielded a deserved wicket but this time Trent Johnston gave him good support with wickets in his third and fourth overs, the second a superb slower ball to dismiss Tanmay Mishra, Kenya's batting star in the first ODI, for just two.
When Cusack then chipped in with two wickets in five balls to reduce the hosts to 37 for five, it was a question of when, not if, Ireland would win.
It allowed Porterfield to give all three spinners an extended bowl and long before Kevin O'Brien's throw ended the match in the 36th over, thoughts were already turning to the next leg of the tour – the three Twenty20 games between the teams, starting tomorrow, which lead into the World Twenty20 qualifiers in the UAE next month.