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Barry Chambers

An unbroken fifth wicket stand of 114 in 21 overs between Collins Obuya (66*), and Thomas Odoyo (50*) consigned Ireland to their second defeat of the World Cup qualifying campaign. The loss mattered little to the Irish, who still finished top of the Super 8 table.

The win guaranteed Kenya one of the four places on offer, with the other spots going to Canada, The Netherlands and of course, Ireland. The Afghanistan fairy tale continued as they defeated Namibia to get One Day International status, as did Scotland by virtue of their crushing win over UAE. Both Scotland and Afghanistan will have been bitterly disappointed by an Irish team sheet which didn't contain Eoin Morgan, Trent Johnston, Alex Cusack and Boyd Rankin, as an Irish win over Kenya could have given them a World Cup berth. The resting of the quick bowlers, all of whom had a varying assortment of niggles, is perhaps understandable, but the omission of Morgan, who departs on Saturday back to his county Middlesex, was very puzzling. Another puzzle was why the Irish opted to bat first when winning the toss - all tournament the white ball has zipped about in the early morning, before settling down and becoming ideal for batting. Once again that proved to be the case, as Wilson (0), Poynter (14), and Porterfield (21) all fell to the moving ball to leave Ireland struggling on 38 for 3 in the 14th over. The only possible explanation for making first use of the track was to get experience in case Ireland have to bat first in Sunday's final.

It could and indeed should have been much worse for Ireland, as both Niall and Kevin O'Brien benefited early on from dropped catches in the slips off the unfortunate Nehemiah Odhiambo. The pair then added 47 in 11 overs before Kevin was run out by a fine piece of fielding from Odhiambo, whose return to Kamande from the boundary was simply magnificent. Andrew White (25) batted sensibly in a 61 run partnership with Niall O'Brien and at 146 for 4, a score in the region of 240 looked feasible. The introduction of Steve Tikolo into the attack changed the course of the game, as he had O'Brien caught on the long off boundary for 59. The left hander faced 71 deliveries, hitting 6 fours. White was trapped lbw by Varaiya, and when McCallan chipped a simple return catch to Tikolo, the Irish looked in danger of falling well short of 200.

A fine cameo innings of 34 in 27 balls from John Mooney, including one huge six over square leg, rescued the Irish, and enabled them to reach a respectable 208 for 9. Phil Eaglestone bowled a mixed bag early on, combining some fine deliveries with frequent overstepping allowing the Kenyans 3 free hits in his first 3 overs - more than the entire Irish attack had conceded in the previous 8 games. The Strabane left armer did get the breakthrough, trapping Morris Ouma for just 9. Kevin O'Brien enticed Alex Obanda into a false shot, and at 45 for 2, the game was in the balance. Steve Tikolo (25), and Kennedy Obuya (31), set about repairing the damage, before Regan West accounted for both, and at 96 for 4, the momentum had swung towards Ireland. West and Kyle McCallan both bowled tidily, and with the run rate ever increasing, Kenya were starting to look nervous. 68 were required from the final 8 overs, but the batting power play proved crucial. Indeed it took Obuya and Odoyo just 6 overs to get them over the finishing line, sparking great scenes of celebration in the Africans camp.

Irish coach Phil Simmons defended his controversial team selection saying, "The bowlers needed a rest. They have been carrying injuries, and it's all about Sunday for us. That's what we've come here for, to win the trophy. Eoin Morgan won't be here on Sunday, and I wanted to see Andrew Poynter in action. They bowled well in the first 15 overs, and despite a few good stands, we were about 20 runs short. They used the power play well, and got there with 2 overs to spare."

Ireland face Canada in the final at Centurion Park on Sunday, with Ireland starting favourites in spite of Morgan's absence. The Canadians are also shorn of one of their batting stars, as John Davison tore a calf muscle last week. A near full strength Irish side should have too much fire power for the North Americans, whom they have already beaten comfortably by 6 wickets in the Group stages.

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