Day 2: Round-up

Mon, Aug 27, 2007 4:59 PM

Following an exciting opening day at the La Manga Club, the second round of group stage matches in the European U-15 2nd Division took place today.

The Isle of Man and Belgium made their debuts in the tournament, against France and Spain respectively, while Italy and Spain moved to the top of their groups, maintaining their 100% records.

The Isle of Man couldn't have wished for a better start to their campaign as they comfortably defeated the French by seven wickets.

Chasing 93 to win, there were a few nervous moments, no more so than at 37-3, but Daniel Hawke and Jamie Johnstone put on an unbeaten 59 for the 4th wicket to see their team through.

That France had managed only 92 was largely due to the efforts of Sam Walker, who took 4-11 from his six overs, and some excellent out-fielding that saw three French batsmen run out.

Credit must go, however, to John Harding, who carried his bat to ensure that France at least had something to defend.

The Italians were the other winners in the morning, romping to victory against Germany by 105 runs. The star of the show was without doubt Abdur Rahman Bhuiyan, whose spectacular 92 included seven fours and six sixes, most of them pulled ferociously over mid-wicket and long-on.

It took an outstanding running, diving catch from Konrad Fuchs on the deep square-leg boundary to end Bhuiyan's 58-ball innings, but the damage had already been done and useful knocks from Giorgio Scalco, Fahran Akbar and Peret Jakob took Italy up to 269-7. Of the German bowlers, Jaskaran Singh's 2-25 off 7 overs was exceptional, considering the Italians' rate of scoring.

Germany did not, nevertheless, lay down but kept Italy in the field for all 35 overs with Singh, Ibrahim Awan and Fuchs all occupying the crease for an hour or more. Two wickets fell to the bowling of both the Italian captain Ali Shakeel and Kristof Starost.

This afternoon, the La Manga club saw two thrilling encounters as Cyprus defeated Gibraltar and Spain beat Belgium, but neither with absolute certainty as the matches ebbed and flowed throughout the course of their second innings.

Spain, in front of a vociferous home crowd, had eleven balls to spare as they passed Belgium's 146-7 for the loss of only three wickets. J Savani's 43 (five fours) had been the bedrock of the Belgian innings and Ben Taylor the home side's most successful bowler, taking 2-36.

Needing five an over going into the last few overs, however, it looked as if Spain might fall short against this plucky and talented Belgian side, who used nine bowlers in an effort to break through the Spanish defences, but it turned out to be a perfectly-timed run chase that culminated with a mighty six pulled over mid-wicket by Matthew Smith.

Belgium's bowlers, however, had performed admirably and were perhaps unlucky not to have enjoyed more success, several edges off the bowling of Sebastian Shukla and Savani just failing to go to hand in the first few overs.

On the top pitch, Cyprus took just one ball more than Spain to reach their target of 173, but had needed six an over at one stage as Gibraltar fought their way back into a match that had seemed over when George Papainisiforou and Alex McCarrick were leading Cyprus to 98 without loss.

A couple of wickets, however, had tilted the balance and when Papainisiforou was run out for a well-made 58 (the left-hander favouring the straight mid-wicket area in particular), nerves were jangling. David Bailey's quickfire 16* though steadied the nerves and Cyprus eventually got home, winning by six wickets.

Gibraltar will perhaps rue their extras count and their failure to build upon the fantastic start (116-1) given to them by captain Scott Chipolina (48) and Joss Hatcher (24), but there was plenty of evidence to suggest that their efforts will soon be rewarded.

Their opponents tomorrow, however, are the highly-rated Guernsey, whose neighbours Jersey take on Italy in a top of the table clash in Group A. In the same group, Germany will be striving to cause an upset when they meet the Isle of Man while Cyprus will return to action immediately, playing Belgium tomorrow morning.

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