Spinners run riot on 22-wicket day
Ireland 75 (Varaiya 6-22, Ngoche 3-11) and 81 for 2 (Joyce 51*) lead Kenya 109 (Aga 46, van der Merwe 5-41, Dockrell 5-37) by 47 runs
Twenty-two wickets fell on the first day, 21 of them to the spinners. Twenty-two catches were taken, yet only one by a wicketkeeper. And at the end of an extraordinary opening day in Mombasa, Ireland held a slender advantage in their ICC Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya.
Ireland collapsed for 75 after choosing to bat, falling to the left-arm spin of Hiren Varaiya, who took career-best figures of 6 for 22. Varaiya was well supported by fellow lert-arm spinner Shem Ngoche, who took 3 for 11. Nehemiah Odhiambo had taken the first wicket, that of Paul Stirling, and that was the only success a fast bowler had on the day. Ed Joyce top scored for Ireland with 26, and among the others only William Porterfield and Gary Wilson made it to double figures. Kenya had been in the field for only 33.5 overs.
Ireland, however, were not about to let Kenya walk away with a healthy lead. The home team's openers added only 24 before Ireland's spinners, Albert van der Merwe and George Dockrell, began to strike. Six wickets fell for 15 runs, and the seventh for the addition of another 11. At 50 for 7, Kenya were in danger of being in the deficit but were dragged past Ireland's 75 by Ragheb Aga, who was the last man out for 46. Kenya were dismissed for 109, with the offspinner van der Merwe taking 5 for 41 and the left-arm spinner Dockrell taking 5 for 37. Both of them achieved career-best figures as well.
Joyce and Stirling were more solid in their second attempt and they wiped out the deficit of 34, effectively reducing the contest to a one-innings shootout. Ireland's opening partnership was worth 63, when Ngoche had Stirling caught and bowled. Porterfield was dismissed for a duck a couple of overs later, by Variaya, with Ireland only 34 ahead. Joyce, however, scored briskly, ending the day unbeaten on 51 off 56 balls, leading his team to 81 for 2.