Kevin O'Brien hoisted Ireland back into contention in the Tri-Series event in Nairobi after he once again smashed Kenya's bowlers around the Gymkhana ground to set up an 86 run victory on Saturday. A week after his unbeaten 171 helped Ireland seal a place in the Intercontinental Cup final, O'Brien smashed 83 from just 52 balls, including five sixes, to help his side post 285-6 off their 47 overs, the game having been reduced due to overnight rain.
Kenya's batsmen failed to build on good starts, with Ireland's all-round strength demonstrated by the fact that six bowlers got among the wickets, with Alex Cusack taking 3-29, while spinners Andrew White and Regan West claimed two apiece as the home side were bowled out for 199. It was just the kind of response coach Phil Simmons was looking for after the big loss to Zimbabwe in the opening fixture. And with Kenyan beating their African counterparts yesterday, all three teams go into the second round of fixtures on five points, although Ireland lie bottom of the table with an inferior run rate.
With all three results so far are going to the team which batted first, the toss in tomorrow's clash against Zimbabwe will prove vital if Ireland are to gain revenge and give themselves a chance of a place in next Saturday's final.
Skipper William Porterfield called right on Saturday and ended a personal run of low scores with 41, while White contributed 40 and shared a key fifth-wicket stand of 82 in 11 overs with O'Brien. Cusack also added a quick-fire 36 from 30 balls, putting on 73 in 45 balls before O'Brien was run out for 83 with the score on 265. Thus the young 24-year-old all-rounder made it 413 runs in just four innings against Kenya.
Simmonds must wait on the fitness of Trent Johnston before deciding on his side for tomorrow's game. Johnston sat out Saturday's victory with a stomach muscle injury, although West, who returned figures of 2-35 bowling for the first time in a One Day International, looks to have done enough to keep his place for the Zimbabwe game