Croatia defeat Israel on historic day

Sun, Nov 18, 2007 12:46 PM

As the UK Sunday Telegraph stated today 'For many fans in Tel Aviv, the big sporting interest this weekend was not the Israel-Russia game but today's Israel-Croatia European 2008 match. In cricket, this is the first international match ever played in Israel. And not just any old game, since the winners of the 45-over encounter will earn a spot in the European 2008 Division Two tournament in Guernsey'.

The first ever ICC European play-off challenge match took place in Tel Aviv, Israel today between 2007 Division 3 winners Croatia and hosts Israel who finished last in the 2006 Division 2. It was an emotional occasion at the Hadar Yosef Stadium where Israel hosted their first ever ICC member country for an international match. Even the Croatian Ambassador came to wish his team good luck and to hear the national anthem of both sides before play started.

The Croatia openers Paul and John Vujnovich (brothers) put on 32 for the first wicket, but the tight Israel bowling kept Croatia to 71-4 at the 35 over mark in this 45 over match. A steady 5th wicket partnership of 43 between Captain John Vujnovich and Pero Kastelan took them to 100-4, however Israel’s Isaac Massil (2-27) then took two quick wickets to reduce Croatia to 100-6 off 40 overs, with good support from Herschel Gutman 2-25 and Sanjay Gupte (0-14 off 9). Good striking towards the end saw 42 off the last 5 overs to end on a competitive 152-7.

Croatia started with an early break-through in the Israel innings and then two quick wickets saw Israel struggling at 7-3, before Herschel Gutman (44) and Isaac Massil (29) put on 62 for the 4th wicket. Israel seemed to be on top and with experienced international batsman and ICA Chairman Stanley Perlman at the wicket the crucial game was going Israel's way. With openers Siljeg (3-23) and John Vujnovich (3-27) with a couple of overs left, Israel required 7 from the final over and nine down. Siljeg struck with his second ball, Razpurkar's off stump sent flying and the Croatians celebrated a 5 run victory on a very historic day.

Man of the Match - John Vujnovich

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