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Match Report
Derek Scott

The semi-final of the 20/20 World Cup Qualifier was played at 9:30 AM. If Ireland won, they would, as finalists in this Qualifying Tournament, be in the World Cup finals in England in June 2009. However, in four attempts, between 1996 and 2007, Ireland had never beaten Kenya in a limited overs match. Happily, today, that negative record came to an end. Kenya were bowled out for 67 in only 17.2 overs. In 15.4 overs in reply Ireland found themselves 49-6. Eventually a six off the first ball of the 20th over won the match for Ireland.

For the third successive match in this Tournament Ireland were unchanged and many in the Kenya team were familiar to Ireland. Ireland had won Section A and thus faced Kenya who were runner-up in Section B. It was surprising that they were runner-up, finishing second to Netherlands, having been beaten by them. In the other semi-final Netherlands played Scotland and beat them.

It was a sunny morning when Ireland won the toss and sent Kenya in on a pitch which had a touch of green. It turned out to be quite a bowlers pitch.

The wicket-keeper Ouma and K.Obuya were Kenya's opening pair. They faced Connell and Kevin O'Brien. Ouma hit a two off Connell's first ball and a four to long-on off the fourth ball. He skied the fifth ball to a square third man. Cusack, running in, dived low to take a very good two-handed catch. 6-1-6. Odhiambo, a newcomer to the match against Ireland, was next. He faced the first ball of O'Brien's over. In it he scored a single, saw Obuya nearly caught off a skier to mid-on, and then got out LBW himself off the last ball. 12-2-1.

Now came Tikolo, the captain and best batsman. He did, in fact, make the highest score, 13, the only other double-figure score was Odoyo's 10. In O'Brien's second over, the fourth of the match, the third wicket fell. Obuya skied to short fine leg where Connell did well to hold on to the ball so high did it go but, at least, he did not have to move. 15-3-7. Obando joined his captain and the best stand of the innings, a mere 12 runs, ensued. It came in 17 balls. After six overs fielding restrictions ended. In the seventh over, bowled by Connell, Tikolo hit a 4 to square leg. The fifth ball accounted for Obando. He skied over mid-on. McCallan turned, ran back to deep mid-on, judged the ball coming over his shoulder and then dived forward for a two-handed catch near the ground. It was a very outstanding catch. 27-4-0.

Odoyo was number six. In O'Brien's last over he hit a four to fine leg. Both Connell and O'Brien had now bowled their regulation four overs. Next to bowl were Cusack, who came on for the ninth over, and Botha who came on for the 10th. Botha's first ball had Tikolo LBW. 38-5-13. Next in was Aga. Aga snicked his first ball for four. His second ball went for five wides. In fact, only two wide balls were bowled in the innings. Aga faced only six balls for five runs and his stand with Odoyo was worth 10 runs in seven balls. The second ball of Cusack's second over bowled Aga off stump. 48-6-5. Two balls later Kamande was also bowled. 48-7-0.

Suji played out a double wicket maiden. In the 12th over, Botha's second, 50 came up. Johnston replaced Cusack for over 13. Cusack had figures of 2-2 in two overs. Botha continued and he, too, took two wickets in this his third over but, in his case, they came in successive balls. Suji took a single off the second ball. Odoyo played over the fourth ball and was bowled, middle stump. 57-8-10. Odoyo was in for seven overs faced only 16 deliveries. Ongondo's first ball bowled him. 57-9-0. Botha was now on a hat trick.Varaiya survived the hat trick ball which was the last of the over.

The last pair, Suji and Varaiya, hung on very well. They lasted for 21 deliveries and scored 10 runs. Cusack bowled the 15th over for one run, replacing Johnston who had only bowled a single over. The 16th over was Botha's last. Johnson returned for Cusack bowled over number 17. The captain McCallan introduced himself for over 18. Varaiya was now facing. He played the second ball into the legside. A run was attempted but Porterfield's throw to Niall O'Brien easily ran out Suji.

The innings lasted 17.2 overs and 71 minutes. Ireland used six bowlers with Connell, O'Brien and Botha bowling their four over quota. Botha took 3-20 and Cusack, in three overs, 2-3.

Ireland started their innings just after 11 AM with Porterfield and Wilson. Both were out by the end of the third over. Odoyo, quickish medium, started and bowled two wides. The tall Ongondo, also quickish medium, bowled a maiden to Wilson. Off the first ball of Odoyo's second over, Porterfield was caught by Tikolo at second slip, one-handed low to his right. 2-1-0. Niall O'Brien scored a single off his second ball. The last ball of the over was hooked by Wilson. Suji, at short leg, turned, ran and caught the ball in a diving action as it came over his shoulder. Another excellent catch. 3-2-0.

Botha came in and hit the first boundary in the fifth over, a square cut off Odoyo. Only 10 runs were on the board after five overs. Aga, another quickish medium bowler, was on for over seven. Botha hit a four to extra cover. 20 were up in the eighth over. The ninth over, bowled by Aga, was a maiden to Niall O'Brien. Suji replaced Ongondo for over 10. It was the most expensive over of the innings. The first ball went for five wides. Then Botha hit three successive twos, one high over deep extra cover, who running back, dived, but could not make the catch. 12 runs in this 10th over and the score was now 35. Accordingly, 33 were needed in the remaining 10 overs.

Suji only bowled one over. Kamande, off spin, replaced him for over 12. His fourth ball bowled Botha, who drove at it. 41-3-22. 22 turned out to be the highest score of the match and his 34 balls were the most faced and his two fours were the most hit. In fact he struck two out of three fours hit in all. White came in, scored a single and was out to the second ball of Aga's next over, the 13th. He hooked to fine leg where Veraiya ran in, dived and caught a low catch two-handed. This was the fourth very good catch of this match. 42-4-1.

Cusack came in, square cut a two, and lifted the next ball to square cover. Two wickets had fallen in four balls for Aga in his last over. 44-5-2. With Kevin O'Brien joining his brother, 24 runs were needed in 44 deliveries. The O'Brien brothers scored five singles in three overs. In this 16th over, the first to be bowled by Kamande, Niall O'Brien played an awful cut shot far from his body and was caught by Tikolo at slip. 49-6-11.

Johnston came in with 26 balls left and 19 runs needed. Suji returned for over 17 and nine runs came off it. Kevin O'Brien cut a three and later hit a four to extra cover. Kamande's last over cost four. Then Odoyo came back for his fourth over, the 19th, in place of Suji and this over also cost four. Suji had one over left and bowled the 20th over with two runs required. O'Brien hit the first ball for a straight six to end the match and put Ireland into the next days final. It also put Ireland into the World 20/20 Cup.

The Netherlands beat Scotland in the second semi-final. The two beaten semi-finalists Scotland and Kenya played off for 3rd place. which, in certain circumstances, might qualify the winners for the 20/20 World Cup. Scotland won that game easily.

Subsequently Zimbabwe confirmed its withdrawal from the World 20/20. That meant that Scotland did qualify for the Tournament. Ireland, as top qualifier, would be in the same Group as India and Bangladesh.

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