Ireland complete series clean sweep
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND chose to do it the hard way in the third and final Twenty20 international against Kenya and, as their hosts choked, John Mooney came up trumps.
Defending what looked like the indefensible – a total of 107 - Ireland had restricted Kenya to 101 for six going into the last over. Mooney took a wicket with his fourth ball and new batsman Shem Ngoche required five from the last two balls. He managed two off his first but made no contact to the sixth short ball out of six from Mooney and Ireland had completed a 3-0 series victory by two runs.
It was no more than they deserved because, despite the victory margin, there is a substantial gap between the two teams and if they had lost yesterday they would have suffered a 15 points loss in the Twenty20 rankings table. As it is, they confirmed their ninth position and closed the gap on West Indies in eighth to just six points.
And they did it without Paul Stirling facing a ball and Kevin O’Brien dismissed fourth ball as two wickets fell in the first over. When captain William Porterfield followed in the third over, Ireland were 14 for three and paying the price for deciding to bat first on a pitch which, once again, was at its most venomous at the start.
Kenya bowled only five overs of pace, four in the middle and the last, and Gary Wilson and Ed Joyce cashed in with a stand of 55 for the fourth wicket, only ended when Wilson was run out, backing up, when the bowler inadvertently deflected a Joyce drive onto the stumps, the unluckiest dismissal in cricket.
Some would say that being run out without facing a fall is even worse but Stirling had only himself to blame when he called his captain for a single to the game’s first ball and failed to beat the throw from short thirdman.
Wilson again impressed at No 4 and Joyce continues to look the best batsman on view. The least said about the rest of the batting the better. Suffice to say that Boyd Rankin, with the help of a boundary to wide long-on, was third top scorer with seven not out in a team missing only Alex Cusack as a recognised batman.
Trent Johnston and Max Sorensen were the bowlers rested yesterday and, like Kenya, Ireland opted to open with two spinners. Dockrell needed nine balls to make the breakthrough – his longest wait for a wicket in the six matches on tour – but although Rankin had struck with his fourth ball, it was to be another nine overs before Ireland took the third wicket, Rankin ending the stand between Collins Obuya and Tamnay Misrah.
Still, with the target less than 50 and 45 balls remaining, it was Kenya’s match to lose. And they did, despite Gary Wilson dropping Mishra, off Stirling, on 19.
Golden arm Andrew White, in his 201st match, took two wickets, including the vital one of Mishra and in the end the bowlers knew just too much for the Kenya lower order.