Ireland reach Intercontinental Cup final
Ireland 578 for 4 dec beat Kenya 186 and 327 (Waters 75, Odoyo 61, Johnston 4-43) by an innings-and-65-runs
Ireland beat Kenya by an innings-and-65 runs to reach their third successive Intercontinental Cup final. Kenya only needed a draw to reach the final, and in spite of showing a total absence of form in their first innings, they fared much better second time round. So much so, in fact, that the match went right down to the wire, with Ireland picking up the final wicket with just 20 minutes left in the day's play.
Ireland made a strong start to the day, removing Seren Waters, the debutant, for 75. And then the biggest wicket of them all, Steve Tikolo, who chipped a return catch back to Trent Johnston on 47. However, Kenya's middle order led an impressive rearguard effort, thanks to Rakep Patel (32), Thomas Odoyo (61) and Jimmy Kamande (42), each of whom battled resiliently to take the game well past tea.
At 294 for 6 Kenya were beginning to believe that a place in the final was theirs, but soon after tea Odoyo was caught in the slips by Andre Botha off the tireless Regan West. From there, Kenya slumped to 327 all out, as West held his nerve in the dying moments, picking up the final wicket to record figures of 3 for 81 from 42.4 overs.
"We still had it all to do in the second innings because it was a good track and Kenya batted very well the second time around," Ireland's coach, Phil Simmons, said. "But our bowlers did really well to keep probing in the right areas and it paid off in the end.
"The pitch did take a bit of spin so it was always going to be up to West and McCallan to do the lion's share of the bowling because they were getting it to turn. And I thought they did really well."
After a period of uncertainty due to work commitments, Ireland's former captain, Trent Johnston, made himself available for this tour and his four wickets in the second innings proved vital.
"Trent is a great player for us and has been for a long time," said Simmons. "His experience really came through today and he showed the younger pace bowlers how you need to adapt as a seamer if you are to be successful on different types of wicket and in different conditions. It is great that he's back in the team again."
Looking forward to the final against Namibia, to be played in Port Elizabeth on October 30, Simmons was confident that Ireland were favourites.
"I think that's fair. We have beaten Namibia in Namibia and Kenya in Kenya so that gives us confidence," he said. "But the final is a one-off game and anything can happen so we won't be going to Port Elizabeth thinking we only have to show up to win it. It's going to be a tough game and we will have to work hard if we are going to take the cup home to Ireland again."