Ireland clinch tense batting nightmare
Ireland 75 (Joyce 26, Varaiya 6-22, Ngoche 3-11) and 152 (Joyce 54, Varaiya 6-51, Nehemiah Odhiambo 3-35) beat Kenya 109 (Aga 46, van der Merwe 5-41, Dockrell 5-37) and 108 (Nelson Odhiambo 32, van der Merwe 6-27, Dockrell 4-50) by 10 runs
The flood of wickets that had begun on day one in Mombasa did not abate and at the end of it, after 40 dismissals in 165.2 overs, Ireland squeaked home during an extremely tense finish, beating Kenya by ten runs in the Intercontinental Cup. They had to overcome a defiant ninth-wicket stand between Nelson Odhiambo and Hiren Varaiya, who had resurrected the Kenya chase from 36 for 8 only to fall agonisingly short.
The win consolidated Ireland's position at the top table after they started the game with two wins from two. The 14 points gained for victory puts them 31 ahead of UAE and Afghanistan but both those sides have a game in hand. With Ireland having stated their ambition of achieving Test status it is important they performance consistently in this competition to confirm their standing in longer-form cricket.
The spinners, three in particular, dominated the match. Albert van der Merwe claimed 11 for 68 and George Dockrell 9 for 87 for Ireland, while Varaiya took 12 for 73 for Kenya. All three achieved career-best match hauls. Shem Ngoche had figures of 4 for 39, taking the spinners' share of wickets to 36 out of 40.
The second day began with Ireland on 81 for 2 in their second innings, ahead by only 47. However, they were set back because Ed Joyce, who was not out on 51 off 56 balls overnight, did not resume his innings. Without his steadiness, Ireland began to slip, losing Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien cheaply to Varaiya. They had scraped to 142 for 5 before the rest of the wickets fell for 10 more runs. Joyce had returned at the fall of the eighth wicket but added only three more runs. Varaiya finished with 6 for 51 in the second innings and Ireland were ahead by only 118.
Chasing 119, Kenya's openers added 16 before the collapse began. The left and right-arm combination of van der Merwe and Dockrell spun through the line-up, dismissing the top eight batsmen in single digits. At one stage Kenya lost four wickets for no runs and were virtually done for at 36 for 8.
Varaiya and Nelson Odhiambo began to add a few runs but it seemed like a matter of time before Ireland took the final two wickets. The partnership, however, slowly grew and a once impossible target was now within the realm of possibility. Nelson Odhiambo had contributed 32, and the stand was worth 58, when van der Merwe dismissed him.
Kenya needed 25 with only a wicket in hand but Ngoche struck a four and a six to give Ireland a fright. van der Merwe, however, had the final word, dismissing Varaiya for 27 with the home side 10 runs short.