When a wet outfield delayed the start of Ireland’s second match in the one-day Triangular series, against Kenya at the Nairobi Gymkhana ground last Saturday, there was no indication that it was the beginning of a trend which was to end Ireland’s hopes of contesting tomorrow’s final.
Defeat by an embarrassing 156 runs against Zimbabwe the previous day was a setback but, the confident team in green put it down to a bad day at the office and they were convinced they could come back, stronger than ever. After all, they had just gone 14 games without defeat.
Sure enough, with a whirlwind 83 by Kevin O’Brien, Ireland duly made it four back-to-back wins against Kenya with a convincing, bonus-point 86 runs success. They were back on course. The first, and ultimately fatal, stumbling block, however, came the next day when Kenya shocked their African rivals with a stunning win, again so comprehensive that they earned the bonus point to leave all three teams level on points after the first round of games.
The overnight rain on Friday then became a regular pattern.
The Gymkhana ground may boast an excellent square and good spectator accommodation but drainage is a major problem and not a ball was bowled in any of three games scheduled for this week.
As Ireland had lost by the biggest margin and won by the smallest in the first round, their run-rate was inferior to Kenya and Zimbabwe and it will be they who will contest the final while the Irish players try to fill in the days and hours until their departure on Sunday morning for South Africa.
There, they will have four days’ preparation for the Intercontinental Cup final against Namibia in Port Elizabeth, when Ireland will start favourites to complete a trophy hat-trick.