Denmark take 2008 Indoor Championship title
Denmark have won the 2008 European Indoor Championship in Finland, beating old foes Portugal in a thrilling encounter. Denmark scrambled a two-wicket win off the penultimate delivery, overhauling Portugal's total of 132.
Hamid Shah was their hero in the decider with an unbeaten 28, sharing a match-winning partnership with Taha Ahmed (25*), after they were precariously placed at 65 for 3. For Paulo Buccimazza, the captain of Portugal, there was the consolation of being awarded Player of the Tournament after finishing as the leading run scorer in the competition, and once again in the final showed his quality making an unbeaten 38.
Such was Denmark's strength that they sailed through the competition unbeaten - eight games in total. Finn Kleissl, the captain, marshalled his squad superbly, and their disciplined bowling, backed up by athletic fielding, was a powerful combination which ensured their deserved success.
The host nation Finland finished a very encouraging third, and was just reward for the hard work the side put in to prepare for their debut as a host nation. They also unearthed a star, the wicketkeeper Jonathan Scamans, who was one of the standouts in the event.
France improved considerably as the competition progressed and thanks to wins over Hellas and Luxembourg, clinched fifth place. They came dramatically close to recording the highest ever European Indoor score when they totalled 158 for 1 - just one short of the 159 made by Hellas in 2002.
Their main performer was Arun Ayyavooraju, who performed consistently throughout.
Luxembourg steadily improved as the competition went on, and won the 'Spirit of Cricket Award'. William Heath, their captain, was pipped at the post for the Player-of-the-Tournament award, but he did record the highest individual score over the three days with an undefeated 41.
Hellas finished seventh, but there were moments of encouragement for their very young and inexperienced team. Their main contributor was Spyridon-Marios Kavvadias, who turned in some determined all-round performances.
"It's been an amazing few days of cricket, finished off with a nail-biting final," Richard Holdsworth, ICC's European development manager said. "The facilities here have been exemplary, with two pitches playing superbly. The players have all learnt a lot and improved as a result. This is what it's all about - it's primarily a development tournament.
"This is by far the youngest group of players we've had in the ten years, and that's encouraging, as it means that there are better, younger players being put forward by their Associations. I am also thrilled by the fantastic web coverage which has resulted in over 50,000 visitors to our website over the weekend - a great promotion for the game in Europe."
"I think indoor cricket is a marvellous way of promoting the game, particularly in some countries where they struggle with pitches and they haven't got a cricketing culture," Roger Knight, the chairman of European Cricket. "It helps with the basics of cricket - bowling straight, finding the gaps when batting, and running quickly between the wickets. All the teams have played good cricket, and it's been a pleasure to watch so many young teams in action.
"This is what European cricket is all about, and it's a great experience for them to meet people from other countries and learn from them."
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo