Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Austria shocked favourites Isle of Man to record a six wicket win in their play-off game at Royal Brussels in the ICC European Division Two Championships.
Having won the toss and elected to field, Austria fully justified their decision with a quite amazing start to the game. Gareth Morris and Oliver Webster both perished in identical fashion during the opening over, caught by Andrew Simpson-Parker at first slip - Muhammad Akhtar the successful bowler.
Things got even worse for the Isle of Man, when Peter Lewis slipped and was brilliantly run out by Qamar Abbas. Jaco Jansen was brilliantly caught by Benjamin Loader on the boundary, as he sprinted and dived full length to take the ball inches from the ground. Ahktar claimed his fourth wicket, when he trapped Max Stokoe in front, to give him the quite amazing analysis of 4 for 5 in his spell.
Daniel Hawke fell first ball, Simpson-Parker claiming his third catch off Satish Kaul, and the scoreboard at that time read a scarcely believable 6 for 6. Indeed it got worse for the Manxmen when Daniel Kniveton was run out backing up, after the bowler deflected the ball onto the stumps.
That made the total 10 for 7, and it looked like it could a very early finish. Their innings was given respectability by an 8th wicket partnership of 75 in 65 balls between Christopher Hawke and skipper Richard Kniveton.
Hawke benefited from a drop on the boundary by Benjamin Loader when he had scored 20, which was pushed over the ropes for six. He went on to score 58 from 47 balls (8 fours, 1 six), before being last man out with the score on 94. Satish Kaul (2 for 11) and Satyam Subhash (2for 20) also bowled well in addition to Akhtar.
Sometimes a low total can be difficult to chase, but that didn’t prove the case for Austria, thanks primarily to the efforts of opener Lakmal Kasthuriarachchige, who played some delightful shots in his 43 from 31 balls. Andrew Simpson-Parker sealed the six wicket win in style, smashing a quite magnificent straight six, to spark off jubilant scenes amongst the Austrian camp.
The win means they are promoted to ICC European Division 1, and will take part in that tournament next month in the Channel Islands. They now play Belgium in the final at Royal Brussels tomorrow, where once again the underdogs will be hoping to defeat the fancied hosts
Belgium overpowered Portugal in Ghent on Friday morning to ease their way into Saturday’s final, and to make sure of a place in next month’s ICC European Division 1 Championship.
Portuguese captain Akbar Saiyad gambled on the success of his bowlers by putting the hosts in after he had won the toss, but the plan misfired as openers Nirvam Shah and Amir Iqbal put on 51 for the first wicket in just 38 deliveries.
Iqbal was eventually caught behind by Rizwan Khaliq off the bowling of Muhammad Shoaib for 27, but Shah and Jamie Farmiloe maintained the pressure, adding 70 from 44 balls, Shah reaching 69 before he was caught by Abu Butt off Babar Khan.
Three interruptions for rain did nothing to disrupt the momentum of the Belgian innings, and Portugal were to have no further success as Farmiloe and Shaheryar Butt plundered 115 from the final 45 deliveries to reach the highest total of the week so far – a massive 236 for 2 from twenty overs.
Butt’s 73 from 27 balls was one of the outstanding innings of the tournament, and included five fours and five sixes. Farmiloe gave him splendid support, making 40 off 26 deliveries and producing some extremely enterprising running between the wickets.
Portugal had no answer to the pace and accuracy of the Belgian opening bowlers, Shahid Muhammad and 19-year-old left-armer Waqas Shafiq taking seven wickets between them in their eight overs. Shafiq struck the first blows by removing Abu Butt and Shahzad Hassan with successive deliveries in his opening over, and went on to take 4 for 25, while Shahid claimed 3 for 26.
Only Nadeem Butt (18) and Zafar Ali (17) were able to handle the bowling with any confidence, and by the time the two Belgians had completed their spells Portugal were in desperate trouble on 52 for seven.
There was a little more resistance in the later stages of the innings, but only Intesab Medhi and last man Muhammad Shoaib were able to reach double figures as Portugal were bundled out for 91 in 17.1 overs, giving Belgium a 145-run margin of victory.
In the first match of the triangular play-off series for 9th to 11th places, Malta struck the first blow with a 39-run win over Cyprus in Mechelen, despite a fine all-round effort from Cypriot captain Mike Kyriacou.
The Maltese total of 158 for 8 was built around an innings of 62 from Andrew Naudi, with Kyriacou taking 3 for 22.
Cyprus then collapsed to 49 for 9 in their first ten overs, before Kyriacou led a fight back with an unbeaten 72. But it was not enough, and he eventually ran out of partners with the total on 119. Naudi took 3 for 23 for Malta, and Mike Caruana 4 for 16 to engineer the Cypriot collapse.