Spinners dominate in Mombasa
An incredible day of fluctuating fortunes ended evenly poised as 22 wickets tumbled on the first day of the Intercontinental Cup clash between Kenya and Ireland in Mombasa.
After winning the toss and batting, Ireland lost Paul Stirling early, but when Ed Joyce (26) and William Porterfield (18) advanced the total to 43 for 1, there was no sign of the collapse that was to follow.
The introduction of left arm spin in the form of Hiren Varaiya and Shem Ngoche saw Ireland lose six wickets for just 13 runs to go to lunch on 56 for 7.
They didn't fare much better after the resumption, with only Gary Wilson (13) reaching double figures as they were skittled for 75 in 33.5 overs.
Varaiya (6-22) was the destroyer-in-chief with excellent support from the diminutive Ngoche (3-11).
The Ireland total of 75 was the second lowest in the history of the competition, but Ireland could take heart from the fact that the lowest total of 69, also by themselves against Namibia in 2008, saw them fight back to win the game.
Duncan Allan and Irfan Karim started serenely adding 25 with little alarm before Porterfield's decision to switch to spin paid immediate dividends.
Max Sorensen took a breathtaking catch to dismiss Allan off the bowling of Albert van der Merwe, and the bowler had Karim (17) caught by O'Brien at slip in his next over.
George Dockrell soon spun his magic removing Mishra and Patel in his first over, and accounted for Obuya and Ouma to leave Kenya reeling at 40 for 6.
When Neh Odhiambo swung Van der Merwe to White, Ireland went to tea jubilant looking favourites to secure a first innings lead with the hosts on 51 for 7.
Kenya regrouped after tea, with former Sussex star Ragheb Aga taking the initiative, as he struck five fours and a six in a top score of 46 to give his side the first innings points, and a first innings lead of 34.
He was last man out, giving Van Der Merwe (5-41) his best first class figures - Dockrell (5-37) also claimed his best figures for Ireland.
Ireland started positively in the final session, quickly wiping out the Kenyan advantage, with Ed Joyce in particular looking in fine touch.
He and Paul Stirling had added 63 before Stirling (20) gave Ngoche the simplest of return chances via a leading edge.
Skipper Porterfield fell without scoring shortly after, and Ireland looked like undoing their excellent fight-back.
However Joyce finished the day on 51* (7 fours, 1 six, 55 balls) - his 15th half century for Ireland - as Ireland finished on 81 for 2, a lead of 47.
All 22 wickets so far have fallen to catches - possibly a record, with spinners accounting for 21 of the 22 dismissals.
An intriguing day two in store, with the first session tomorrow likely to prove pivotal in the destiny of the game.
Ireland though will be glad to be still in the contest after imploding during that disastrous first session.