Belgium storm to Division Two title
Belgium 188 for 7 (Shah 58, Iqbal 40, Subhash 3-35) beat Austria 115 (Simpson-Parker 48; Khaliq 4-11) by 73 runs
Hosts Belgium won the final of the ICC European Division 2 Championship at Royal Brussels on Saturday with an emphatic 73-run win against Austria.
They were always in charge after posting 188 for 7, with Nirvam Shah (58) and Amir Iqbal (40) sharing an opening stand of 85. Simon Newport hit a brisk 30 from 15 balls, and Abdul Rehman struck two sixes in his 12-ball 23.
Satyam Subhash (3 for 35) was the most successful of the Austrian attack, who seemed a bit jaded. The bowlers weren’t helped by some poor support in the field. Shahid Muhammad (2 for 33) removed both Austrian openers early, and from that point, it was always difficult. Andrew Simpson-Parker (48) and Benjamin Loader (26) added 59 for the fourth wicket, but Faisal Khaliq took 4 for 11 to wrap up the innings as Austria were bowled out for 115 in 17.5 overs. Wicketkeeper Ali Raza took six catches, to take his tournament total to 11.
Isle of Man 155 for 4 (19 overs) (Webster 68) beat Portugal 142 for 9, 19 overs (Butt 53) by 13 runs
In the third-fourth place play-off game, the Isle of Man bounced back from their loss against Austria the day before to beat Portugal by 13 runs.
Oliver Webster hit 68 from 42 balls (9 fours), while there were useful cameos from Peter Lewis (28 not out), and Gareth Morris (23), in their 155 for 4 in 19 overs. Khalid Izaz (2 for 17) was the pick of the Portugal bowling.
In reply, opener Nadeem Butt struck 53 from 31 balls, which included six fours and two sixes, as he shared in a partnership of 80 with Intesab Medhi (23) for the second wicket. Zafar Ali struck three sixes in his 33 from just 13 balls, but Oliver Webster completed an excellent all-round day as he took 2 for 1, as Portugal went from 134 for 4, to 141 for 9 in the space of two overs, finishing on 142 for 9.
Spain 141 for 8 beat Hellas 106 for 9 (Hussein 3-13) by 35 runs
At Ghent, Spain made sure of fifth place when they defeated Hellas by 35 runs. A solid batting display by Spain saw seven of their players make double figures, with Gary Crompton (26), Farhat Mahmood (25), and Pedro Venus Valiente (20), the main contributors in their total of 141 for 8.
Hellas then self destructed as they suffered no fewer than three run outs, and that coupled with the bowling of Mohib Hussein (3 for 13), meant they could only manage 106 for 9 when the overs ran out, with Alexandros Souvlakis 24 the only contributor of any note.
Spain had further good news when James Morgan won the Most Valuable Player, beating off the challenge of Amir Iqbal, Gareth Morris and Michael Caruana. The afternoon game saw Finland edge out Luxembourg in the battle to claim 7th place. Joost Mees (19) and Tony Whiteman (16) added 39 for the first wicket, before an amazing collapse inspired by Madhu Bhandari (3-18) and Amrik Bhatia (2-17) saw them lose 6 wickets for just 13 runs. Nishith Gandhi and Piran Merkl both reached double figures as Luxembourg ended with 101 for 9.
Finland 104 for 8 beat Luxembourg 101 for 9 (Bhandari 3-18) by 2 wickets
A steady reply by the Finns ensured they were always in control, although they wobbled slightly going from 62 for 2 to 78 for 6, but MT Sarfraz, with an unbeaten 14, held his nerve to seal the two-wicket win off the first ball of the last over.
At Mechelen, Malta clinched 9th place with a thrilling three-run win against Sweden in a contest reduced to 12 overs per side due to rain. Justin Brooke top scored with 36 from 28 balls a Malta total of 95 for 4 in 12 overs.
In reply, opener Bilal Zaigham anchored the innings with 31 from 30 balls, and looked to be taking his team to victory, until a leaping, one handed catch on the boundary by Michael Caruana turned the game.
Malta 95 for 4 (12 overs) (Justin Brooke 36) beat Sweden 92 for 9 (12 overs) (Naudi 4-9) by 3 runs
Maltese skipper Andrew Naudi bowled the final over, off which Sweden required seven to win, with three wickets remaining. He bowled Hassan Zaigham from the first delivery, and Aman Zahid from the fourth, to leave five runs needed from the last two. They could only manage a leg bye, to leave Malta winners by three runs.
It didn’t get any better for Sweden in the afternoon game, as they lost to Cyprus by 78 runs, to finish in 11th position. Nimal Durayalage top scored with 56 after Cyprus had been given a great start by Syed Hussain. He scored 49 from 27 deliveries dominating an opening stand of 65 with his captain Michalis Kyriacou.
Cyprus 199 for 7 (Duralanga 56, Hussain 49, Mohammed 3-42) beat Sweden 121 by 78 runs
Dineja Agathocleous (29) gave the innings a further late boost as Cyprus finished on 199 for 8. Ewan Prezens (3 for 6) and Azam Mohammed (3 for 43) were best with the ball for Sweden.
Bilal Zaigham (32) was again his team’s top scorer, and Azam Khalil made 27, but they were never really in the hunt. Their innings finished on 121 all out with 3.4 overs unused. Yasir Nazir (3 for 16), and Babar Ayub (3 for 21) both caused the Swedish batsmen problems.
The Cypriot bowlers were backed up by their fielders, and in particular, Stelios Michaelides, who took no fewer than five catches on the boundary.
ICC European Division 2 Final Placings
1 Belgium 2 Austria 3 Isle of Man 4 Portugal 5 Spain 6 Hellas 7 Finland 8 Luxembourg 9 Malta 10 Cyprus 11 Sweden
Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo