Despite a massive effort in the field, Israel paid the price for a poor batting display and lost by 3 wickets to the Isle of Man at the European U19 Championships in Jersey yesterday. Asked to bat first in wet conditions, Israel slumped to 17 for three inside six overs, recovered to 151, and then, despite their best efforts, watched as the Islanders scraped to a narrow win with just eight balls in hand.
Following their thumping win over Germany on Sunday, Israel knew they were up for a far tougher challenge against a team with a couple of players playing regular school and university cricket in England. The Isle of Man bowlers struggled to control the movement early on, and were guilty of bowling to many wides, but a combination of poor shot selection and smart catching, saw Reuven Bergman (1), Shlomi Korman (3), and Shai Hayun (4) out early. Shai Divekar was sent in to stop the fall of wickets, and together with Gabi Schachat showed good discipline to add 49 for the fourth wicket, albeit at less than three an over. Schachat was once again the only batsman to show any application, but unfortnuately was out for 38 just when he seemed set for a big innings. Captain Oren Chincholkar continued his good form, finishing not out on 34 as Israel completed their 50 overs on 151 for 8. Solomon Varsulkar also chipped in with a valuable 10*, sharing a 48-run partnership with his captain.
The Isle of Man batsmen started out their run chase very patiently, although Israel were generous in returning the wides they had received earlier in the day as the new ball continued to swing. But Shlomi Korman was again on target, conceding just 12 runs in his six-over spell, and Eyal Matz was also tight in going for 11 in five after coming on first change. Schachat then provided the breakthrough, with his extra pace causing the batsman to sky an attempted pull to mid wicket where Korman moved quickly to hold a good diving catch. The introduction of the spinners maintained the pressure, and both Solomon Varsulkar (1 for 27) and Raz Ben Zaken (2 for 34) picked up wickets as Israel began to beleive they had a chance of pulling off an unlikley win. The closing overs saw Schachat (2 for 26) pick up another wicket, and Chincholkar (2 for 9) claimed two, but the Isle of Man managed to hold on and reached their target under huge pressure. The Israel bowling and fielding was of the highest standard, although three catches were spilled, and despite the loss they can be very heartened by the fight shown in attempting to defend a mediocre score.
The loss means Israel are unlikley to finish in the top three, unless Germany can some how pull off an upset win over the Isle of Man today which would leave each team level on points in Group B and bring net run rate into the equation. But the most likely scenario is that Israel will be aiming for a fourth place finish, needing to win their remaining games on Wednesday and Thursday.