Day 4: Round-up

Wed, Aug 29, 2007 4:41 PM

Hosts Spain were the popular winners in La Manga this morning as they protected their unbeaten record in this year's European U-15 2nd Division Championship while Guernsey also picked up another two points, continuing to dominate all-comers.

Against Cyprus, no Spanish batsman reached 20, but most chipped in as the home team posted a competitive total of 162-8 on the bottom pitch. A larger score had loomed at 96-2, but 3-30 from Cyprus leg-spinner Thomas Mills checked the Spanish advance and kept his side in the game.

In their last group match, Cyprus were desperate to chase down their target but, after an opening stand of 42 between George Papaonisiforou and Alex McCarrick, wickets tumbled with alarming regularity.

Ben Taylor claimed three more wickets for Spain and there were also two each for Daniel Togher and Callum Murphy.

The Spanish players, and their supporters, were jubilant as the final wicket fell, Jake Sunderland bowling Joshua Keeling to leave Cyprus 32 runs short. Spain now meet Jersey tomorrow in a winner-takes-all encounter to decide who will top Group B.

Belgium's hopes of finishing in the overall top four were dashed as current group leaders Guernsey strolled to another convincing victory. 119 runs was the margin of defeat for the Belgian side, who understandably batted out all 35 overs for 102 runs in an effort to improve their net run rate.

In doing so, Shaival Mehta became the first player in the tournament to bat through a full innings, but Charles Wilkes-Green still managed to take three wickets despite the stoical Belgian defence.

Earlier, there had been three main contributors to Guernsey's imposing total of 221-8. Will Thompson got his first decent start of the tournament and hit twelve boundaries in his fine knock of 87 and it was with Adam Hindle, who notched up his first half-century of the championship, that he added 87 for the third wicket.

Thomas Kirk then set about the Belgian attack in the last few overs, smashing an unbeaten 39 from a mere 19 deliveries, clearing the ropes twice, as Guernsey racked up close to a hundred runs off the last ten.

Later this afternoon, Jersey accounted for Isle of Man by 39 runs to go clear at the top of Group A. Jersey openers Aidan McGuire (47) and Bradley Rimeur (41) gave their side the best possible start to their third group match with the highest first-wicket stand of the championship so far, 127.

This was followed by another large partnership, this time unbeaten and worth 72, between Tim de la Haye and Daniel McAviney (both 29*) to leave Jersey on a daunting 202-2.

Having reached 105-1, Isle of Man may well have had a shout, but Jersey spinners de la Haye and Joseph Mayes bowled excellently in tandem, putting ever increasing pressure on the batsmen.

As the required rate rose, the pressure did eventually tell and, when the chances came, Jersey certainly took them. When Alex Stokoe was then bowled by Andrew Rabet for 55, the Isle of Man's last real hope of winning went with him, but 168-6 was a more than creditable effort.

At the same time, France and Germany came together for Group A's basement battle and it was the Germans who won through, by the comfortable margin of 76 runs.

Having been invited to bat by the French, solid performances from Timo-Norbert Zielinsky (33), Mansor Mubarik (27) and Jaskaran Singh (26) at the top of the German order allowed their side to post a more than respectable score of 187-5 in their 35 overs.

The French used eight bowlers in their attempt to restrict the German batsmen, Stephen Woodall being the most successful with 2-37 and Zain Zahir the most economical conceding 20 runs from six overs.

In response, only Haroon Rashid (who earlier effected a brace of stumpings as substitute wicket-keeper) managed to get on top of the German attack, making a quick 19 before being run out while Manishi Mathur shone with the ball, snapping up three wickets for only thirteen runs.

Unfortunately, France's innings had to be cut short soon after the fall of the eighth wicket, due to one player being absent injured and another retiring hurt, but with over seventy runs needed from only eight remaining overs, one could not use this to detract from the Germans' deserved triumph.

Tomorrow, in the last round of group matches, the French will look to regroup against Jersey, who will be the favourites to reach Saturday's final from Group A, while Italy and Isle of Man will be contesting the group's second place.

In Group B, Guernsey and Spain play in the afternoon and whoever wins that match will participate in Saturday's showpiece, while Gibraltar and Belgium will complete their fixture schedule against each other in the morning.

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