Hosts Belgium open with victory
Tournament hosts Belgium began their ICC European Division Two campaign in style with a relatively comfortable 60 win run win against Austria at Mechelen in Group B.
An opening partnership of 69 between Nirvam Shah (40) and Amir Iqbal (25), laying the foundation for their total of 183 for 6. Abdul Rehman smashed eight sixes as he raced to 58 from just 18 balls, sharing in a match winning stand of 82 with Nadeem Khan (20no). Satyam Subash removed three of the Belgian top order to finish with the excellent analysis of 3 for 26.
In reply, Belgian opening bowler Waqas Shafiq dismissed three of the top order to reduce Austria to 28 for 4, and virtually seal the contest. Benjamin Loader played some delightful shots in a spirited half century from 46 balls, as he shared in a stand of 58 for the 6th wicket with Satyam Subash (26). In the end, Austria finished on 123 for 8, with Amir Iqbal (2 for 16) the other bowler of note.
Spain took the honours in their opening Group B match against promoted side Sweden in Ghent, who nevertheless made a promising debut at this level.
An unbeaten 54 by captain Piyal Rahman enabled Sweden to reach 141 for 5 after Bilal Zaigham and Sunny Sharma had put on an opening stand of 40. Farhat Mahmood finished with 3 for 25.
Hassan Zaigham then struck a couple of early blows when Spain replied, but a superb 44-ball 70 from James Morgan swung the game Spain’s way. By the time he was fifth man out only five were needed for victory, and the Spanish, too, had 16 balls to spare as they reached their target without further loss.
In the other Group B match, in Mechelen, the Hellas batsmen, given first use of the crease, set a cracking pace despite losing Andreas Koutsoufis to the first ball of the match, with Georgios Stogiannos hitting six fours in a 23-ball innings of 36. Iordanis Kontarinis chipped in with 21 from just nine deliveries and the innings closed on 98 for six. Mike Caruana was the pick of the Maltese bowlers with two for 7, and Ronnie Sacco also claimed two wickets.
Malta made a steady start in reply, but in the third over three wickets fell in the space of four deliveries, two of them for George Toulantas and the third a run-out, and the side never really recovered from these reverses. Spinner Mehmood Ahmed took three wickets for 15 for Hellas, and Malta could only manage a disappointing 68 for 9.
The weather was the winner in the Hellas versus Sweden clash at Royal Brussels. Just 8.2 overs were possible with Hellas reaching 53 for 2 before a torrential downpour left the umpires with no option but to abandon the game despite the efforts of the groundstaff. Both sides earn a point apiece from the game.
In Group A, Finland drew first blood with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Cyprus at the Royal Brussels CC.
Put in to bat, Cyprus managed 134 for 9 in their twenty overs, with opener Syed Hussain making 24 from 25 deliveries, and Nimal Durayalage picking up the momentum in taking just 10 balls to reach the same score. Ekhpelwak Kuchey did most of the damage for Finland with 3 for 23.
Michael Shaw and Roholah Sadiqui got the Finns away to a good start, and then skipper Jonathan Scamans (47 not out) and Shabir Sheerzad (32 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 86 for the third wicket which saw their side home with 16 balls to spare.
Isle of Man produced a powerful batting display to record a convincing 125-run win against Luxembourg in Ghent.
They were always in control following an opening partnership of 121 runs in 14 overs between Gareth Morris and Max Stokoe. James Barker removed Stokoe for 42, well caught by Merkl, and immediately number three Oliver Webster fell first ball.
Gareth Morris was particularly severe on anything straying in length or width and his 95 came from just 42 balls. His innings included eight sixes and seven fours, and deserved a century, before Wayne Codd claimed his wicket. There was no respite for the beleaguered Luxembourg attack, as Jaco Jansen smashed an unbeaten 46 from just 22 balls to take the Isle of Man to a mammoth 200 for 3.
Luxembourg reached 50 for 5, when the rain intervened to give them a new Duckworth-Lewis target of 184 in 18 overs. Captain William Heath top scored with 18, while Sebastian Finch and Joost Mees both made 11 in their final total of 58 for 9.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo