Day 6: Round-up and Final Day preview

Fri, Aug 31, 2007 3:54 PM

The quietest day of the week at the La Manga Club had only one fixture scheduled, as the European U-15 2nd Division Championship took something of a break before tomorrow's climactic round of play-offs.

It was a day to remember, however, for Gibraltar as they won their only match of the tournament by 89 runs against a French side that was consigned to tenth place.

Scott Chipolina again top-scored for Gibraltar, contributing 34 to his side's total of 157-5, one which may well have been much less had it not been for Philip Dumas' late flurry (26) and the French attack's generosity with wides – 64 were conceded.

Wides (33) then exceeded the combined scores of all the French batsmen, as Gibraltar wrapped up the match with more than six overs remaining.

In shooting France out for only 68, George Dumas picked up three wickets and Matthew Hunter two, while Joss Hatcher held on to a smart return catch to dismiss last man Ammas Zahir and bring today's proceedings to a close.

Tomorrow's four play-off matches should be enthralling encounters between reasonably well-matched sides and what follows here is a brief preview for each game:

7th/8th Place Play-off: Germany v Cyprus

Both of these sides won only one group match each, with Germany defeating France and Cyprus overcoming Gibraltar. The Cypriots will look to captain Harry Callaway for a big innings and George Papaonisiforou for early wickets, while the Germans will rely on a strong team spirit and indefatigable commitment to see them through. Manishi Mathur has become the Germans' key man as the week has progressed, the all-rounder's name cropping up in both the tournament's batting and bowling averages.

5th/6th Place Play-off: Belgium v Italy

This clash could come down to a head-to-head between the sides' two star batsmen. Belgium's Jay Savani has yet to fail this week, while the Italians' Abdur Rahman Bhuiyan has proven himself to be one of the hardest hitters around at this level. In addition to this, the dangerous Giorgio Scalco and Fahran Akbar give Italy a strong middle order, while captain Ali Shakeel is the joint-leading wicket-taker in the championship. Belgium's Sebastian Shukla, however, has U-19 experience and a more than useful leg-spinner in Naman Parikh.

3rd/4th Place Play-off: Isle of Man v Spain

The Isle of Man's strong top three has done most of their batting for them this week, with Richard Foden and Alex Stokoe both reaching half-centuries. Stokoe has also emerged as one of the championship's most economical bowlers, Sam Walker has taken wickets cheaply, and Isle of Man have shown that they can run between the wickets as well as anyone.

Spain, meanwhile, have the benefit of the home crowd support, a veritable "twelfth man" on the pitch. Ben Taylor and Callum Murphy have bowled well together all week and, in the batting, despite there having been no fifty made, a number of players have shown that they could go on to get a big score.

1st/2nd Place Play-off: Jersey v Guernsey

From the start of the week it was clear that these were the two best teams here in La Manga and it is fitting that it is they who will contest the final, which should be played with no little intensity given the Channel Islanders' passionate rivalry.

All of Guernsey's top four feature prominently in the tournament averages, with CJ Peatfield and Thomas Kirk (yet to be dismissed) its only two centurions thus far.

Additionally, keeper-batsman Will Thompson has notched up two half-centuries so far, while his battle behind the stumps with Thomas le Lievre should be a compelling sub-plot.

One area where Guernsey have been so successful has been in tying down opposition batsmen; not one of their bowlers has an economy rate above three and a half an over, with Max Ellis and Kirk even managing to keep theirs below two. In Andrew Hutchinson they also have perhaps the most incisive opening bowler of the week.

But Jersey have managed to match their neighbours blow-for-blow, with Steven Blackburn proving equally dangerous with the new ball, and one of their 'secret' weapons is the speed with which spinners Tim de la Haye, Joseph Mayes and James Faudemer race through their overs.

With regards to the batting, opener Aidan McGuire is reaching peak form at just the right time and is averaging close to a hundred. Moreover, Bradley Rimeur has made a couple of impressive 40s and de la Haye, le Lievre and Daniel McAviney can also make telling contributions in the middle order.

This match will be very hard to call but, irrespective of the result, this final should be a cracking game of cricket played at a thoroughly high standard.

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