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Hungary clinched the third invitational European Twenty20 title after a dramatic victory over Russia with one ball spare in the final at the Alexander The Great Cricket Ground in Skopje, Macedonia.
Russia posted a commanding 165 for 6 from their 20 overs thanks largely to the tournament’s highest runscorer Akila Milan De Silva Thotahewage who made 81 before he was dismissed by Magyars captain Andrew Leckonby (3 for 42).
The game looked beyond Hungary as they stumbled to 42 for 3 at the tenth over but Sufiyan Mohammed brought his side back into the game with a blistering 82, including five sixes in one over.
Hungary still required 17 to win off the final over in near darkness but some frantic hitting by Ranjeet Kumar and Habib Deldar sealed the victory with just one ball to spare.
Earlier, a Cricket Board of Wales XI won the plate competition after they defeated tournament debutantes Romania by 11 runs in the final thanks to an unbeaten 32 from wicketkeeper Dafydd Bailey.
The week-long tournament, which also included hosts Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and a Croatia ‘A’ side, was hailed a success by co-organiser Timothy Abraham who took the ambitious decision to move it out of the UK after twice holding it at Carmel & District Cricket Club in North Wales.
“Undoubtedly taking the tournament to Skopje brought a huge set of logistical problems but apart from a few minor issues the event was largely a success due to the excellent work of those on the ground in Macedonia,” Abraham said.
“The EuroTwenty20 tournament goes from strength to strength and continues to provide invaluable experience for those European countries working towards ICC Affiliate Member status and nations where the game is largely in its infancy.
“Indeed special praise should also be reserved for the likes of Serbia whose team was predominantly made up of native players and their passion, pride and commitment - particularly when fielding - impressed everybody."
Fellow organiser Ray Power, of the British Business Group Macedonia, who is involved with the development of cricket in the region, and was the driving force behind holding the event in Skopje, is confident of seeing the benefits to Macedonian cricket in the near future.
He added: “Hosting the event was a real honour for Macedonia which did not, until now, have a dedicated space for a cricket ground, but the significance of the EuroTwenty20 and visiting countries has instilled a sense of pride in Macedonia that is lending itself to a very successful promotion of the sport.
“Overall, it has been an exciting tournament and a real victory for cricket as it cements itself in a new area that is adopting the sport very rapidly. There has also been a lot of media and public interest in the event and going forward we are working towards introducing the sport to schools and starting up a women’s team.
“Indeed, the visiting countries also meant a great deal to the sport as everyone built new relationships off the field which will pave the way for more regular regional games in the Balkans and there is already talk of follow up matches later in the year.”
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape TownFeeds: Liam Brickhill
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