Isle of Man make it three in three
Isle of Man made it three wins out of three to assume control in Group A when they recorded a comprehensive nine wicket win against Finland at Royal Brussels.
A thoroughly professional performance in the field restricted the Finns to just 87 all out in 17.2 overs, with only Bilal Khan (26) reaching double figures. All six Isle of Man bowlers shared the wickets, with Ross Berry claiming 4 for 14. Jaco Jansen taking 2 for 9, but his championship tally of five is still well short of his colleague Arne van der Berg, who has 9 wickets, at an incredible economy rate of just 3.11.
A target of 88 was never likely to prove difficult for the powerful Isle of Man batting line up, and so it turned out, as they lost just the one wicket. Gareth Morris was the batsman dismissed, bowled for 26, which included three fours and six sixes. He is now the leading run scorer in the competition, with 262 runs at an amazing average of 131, and a quite incredible strike rate of 225.86.
Fellow opener Max Stokoe scored 29 not out from 41 balls, as he shared in an unbroken second wicket partnership of 56 with Oliver Webster (27 not out). Webster’s innings contained three fours and a six, and came from 24 balls.
Austria pulled off a stunning run chase to defeat Spain by six wickets at Mechelen. Chasing what appeared an unlikely 216, the victory was set up by a second wicket partnership of 123 between Amar Naeem and Qamar Abbas. Naeem top scored with 73 from just 39 balls, while Qamar Abbas scored 69 from 38 deliveries.
Both were dismissed by Armaghan Khan (2 for 35), but Andrew Simpson-Parker (20), and Satyam Subhash (17not out) settled the nerves and pulled off a quite remarkable run chase with just a ball remaining.
Earlier Spanish captain James Morgan had been the mainstay of his side’s innings, as he raced to 71 from just 36 balls, which included six sixes and three fours. Boundaries were indeed a feature of the game – in total 28 sixes and 27 fours were scored, both sides favouring the shortish straight boundaries.
Shafique Ali scored a rapid 42 from 19 deliveries, while Tanvir Iqbal chipped in with 36 from just 20 balls at the end. Three Austrian bowlers took two wickets apiece, namely Subhash, Kasthuriarachchige, and Asif.
The Belgium versus Sweden game at Ghent was another high scoring affair, as the Swedes failed narrowly to chase down Belgium’s 196 for 8.
Opener Amir Iqbal anchored the Belgian innings, scoring 74 from 75 balls, while Abdul Rehman scored 29 from just 18 balls. Azam Khalil was the most successful of the Swedish attack, claiming 2 for 39.
In reply, Sweden were always in contention thanks to a 126-partnership between Sanaullah Habibzai and Bilal Zaigham. Habibzai top scored with 78 from 52 balls, while Zaigham scored his 55, taking 51 deliveries. Belgian skipper Andre Wagener (2 for 42) and Abdul Rehman (2 for 36) took wickets at vital times, as Sweden faltered finishing 22 runs short.
There were comprehensive victories for the Isle of Man over Cyprus in Group A, and for Spain over Malta in Group B in the morning games.
In Ghent, Isle of Man opener Gareth Morris followed up his 95 yesterday with a magnificent unbeaten 141, made from just 62 balls with ten fours and ten sixes, which took his side to an imposing total of 224 for 4. He shared in a second-wicket partnership of 76 with Oliver Webster, who made a 24-ball 38.
Syed Hussain was the only bowler of note for Cyprus, taking 3 for 30 in his four overs.
In reply, Cyprus were never really in contention, being dismissed for 74 in 17.1 overs. Arne van den Berg was again among the wickets taking 4 for 15, while Jaco Jansen claimed three for 6 as the Isle of Man ran out winners by 170 runs.
Portugal took the honours in the Group A clash with Luxembourg at Royal Brussels, but the match went all the way to the last of the scheduled overs before a six by Zafar Ali settled the issue.
Zafar shared a fifth-wicket partnership of 55 off 56 deliveries with Intesab Medhi, which took the Portugese to within three runs of their target. Zafar finished with 41 from just 18 deliveries, with three fours and three sixes, while Medhi made 32 from 31 balls.
Luxembourg, defending a total of 139 for 3 to which Taral Desai’s 34-ball 59 not out, including four fours and three sixes, were ahead of the game for much of the Portuguese innings, and it was only in the final four overs that a flurry of runs saw Portugal home.
Wayne Codd, with 1 for 24, and Pirin Merkl with 2 for 19 bowled economical spells, but in the end it was Zafar’s blitz which gave Portugal the final word.
The Luxembourg innings had followed a similar course, Anand Pattabiraman and Joost Mees getting them off to a steady start with an opening stand of 44. The Portuguese attack kept things under control until Desai cut loose, with Muhammad Shoaib and Medhi the most economical.
The game between Spain and Malta in Mechelen was even more one-sided, as the Maltese could manage only 30 in 9.4 overs in response to Spain’s total of 215 for 8.
Top-scorer for Spain was opener Shafique Ali with 72 from just 39 balls, including nine fours and four sixes. He and his opening partner Sajad Ali (21) put on 60 for the first wicket, and then skipper James Morgan helped add another 51 for the second.
The real fireworks, however, came towards the end, as Mark Spencer smashed 46 from 15 deliveries, including five sixes, before he was forced to retire hurt. Ronnie Sacco with 3 for 24 and captain Andrew Lenard with 2 for 42 were the main wicket-takers.
Malta lost two wickets in the first over and swiftly collapsed to 8 for 5 and 15 for 8 before the last two partnerships doubled the total. Talat Ali took 5 for 13 for Spain, and Tanvir Iqbal 3 for 2.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo