Rankin and Portferfield call shots for Ireland

Ireland’s cricketers got their ICC World Twenty20 qualification campaign back on track with an empathic 10-wicket win over Kenya.

The pre-tournament favourites slumped to a four-run defeat to Namibia in Tuesday’s Group B opener, but recovered to thrash the Kenyans and revive their hopes of making the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka in September.

Coach Phil Simmons expressed disappointment at the poor performances of his bowlers against Namibia, and the message seemed to have been received, with all fivechipping in with wickets against Kenya. Boyd Rankin set up the win with a hostile spell of 3-20 in four overs, dismissing the openers Duncan Allan and Alex Obanda, and captain Collins Obuya as Kenya slumped to 13-3 in the third over.

Tanmay Mishra was the only Kenyan to pass double figures, with 28 from 32 balls, as Ireland bowled the Africans out for a meagre 71.

Alex Cusack, John Mooney and George Dockrell all took two wickets, while there was a welcome return to form for Trent Johnston, who dismissed Nehemiah Odhiambo for his first T20 wicket of the tour. Mooney in particular will be feeling more pleased with life, after his only over against Namibia went for 24 runs.

Having tweeted after the game ‘Going for a million in my over wasn’t a great start to the competition”, he atoned for Tuesday’s setback by dismissing Mishra and David Obuya, and bowling his first ever T20 maiden in the final over of his spell.

Captain William Porterfield then thrashed a quickfire 56 from 27 balls as Ireland took only 44 balls and less than half an hour to chase down the victory target of 72. It was Porterfield’s first T20 half-century, and the fastest ever for Ireland in all forms of the game. Rankin was named man-of-the-match for his three wickets, and Johnstonbelieves his bowling strike partner could be Ireland’s key man on the slow wickets in the United Arab Emirates when they face Italy. Johnston said: “He has been outstanding since we hit Kenya (for the I-Cup and World Cup qualifiers in February).”

Rankin spent the winter training with the England Lions in South Africa and Loughborough, and believes that intensive work over the last six months has made him a more complete player. He said: “I have been working quite hard on my fitness over the winter, and I am feeling pretty strong. It is nice to get some wickets and put them under pressure.

Ireland face an Italy side that contains former Australia batsman Michael Di Venuto and Middlesex’s South African-born batsman Gareth Berg in Abu Dhabi today.

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