Ireland began their preparations for next month’s World Twenty20 qualifiers with a comprehensive six wicket victory over Kenya in Mombasa. George Dockrell stared with the ball as the hosts were reduced to just 107 from their 20 overs before Ireland’s batsmen comfortably knocked the runs off.
Phil Simmons’ men were given a boost before a ball was bowled with the news that Ireland are now inside the top ten of the World T20 rankings for the first time thanks to overtaking Zimbabwe. The three game series will be crucial to Ireland’s preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers which take place in April in the UAE but there is an added incentive for the Irish as a series whitewash would see them climb to 9th in the rankings, overtaking Afghanistan.
Ireland handed Twenty20 debuts to the Hills bowler Max Sorensen and wicket keeper batsman Rory McCann. Having won the toss, captain William Porterfield decided to field first and with the influence of spin in the series’ previous games, Ireland opened up with left arm slow bowler George Dockrell. It was a ploy which reaped instant rewards as the Somerset spinner dismissed both openers before Boyd Rankin accounted for the dangerous Collins Obuya to leave Kenya reeling on 11-3.
The hosts never recovered from their poor start but Tanmary Mishra increased his reputation with a well compiled 34 and put on 48 runs with former Sussex all-rounder Ragheb Aga for the fourth wicket. The Indian born Mishra has recently been snapped up by the Deccan Chargers to play in this year’s lucrative IPL. Regular wickets hampered any chance of posting a substantial total as Alex Cusack and Max Sorensen both picked up a brace before Dockrell returned in the closing stages to pick up his third victim. The home side lost six wickets for just 24 runs as they were bowled out for 107 on the last ball of their allocated overs.
Ireland lost captain Will Porterfield early on as he was run out for just one before the explosive Paul Stirling was joined by Alex Cusack who brought the score up to 34 but both fell in quick succession to allow the home side back into the game. World Cup hero Kevin O’Brien extinguished any hopes of a Kenya victory with a typical innings which saw him end unbeaten on 30 to guide Ireland home with more than four overs to spare. He was well supported by Ed Joyce (24) and John Mooney (16*) as Ireland drew first blood in the three game Twenty20 series.
George Dockrell picked up the man of the match award for his 3-15. The second Twenty20 game takes place in the same venue tomorrow.