European Under 23 2nd Division: Day 1

Mon, Aug 13, 2007 6:00 PM

There was a thrilling start to the inaugural Under 23B Division Championships in Guernsey with Gibraltar getting up by two wickets to beat Germany in the opening Group A match.

The Gibraltar hero was Iain Latin who hit an unbeaten 72 to, almost single-handedly, get Gibraltar home after they were 134 for eight, in pursuit of a victory target of 185. Charlie Harrison scored just six at the other end as Latin brought up his 50 with his eighth four but, with overs not a problem, he was happy to wait for the bad ball and, with the help of 45 wides, Gibraltar won with 14 balls to spare.

Latin came to the middle with the scoreboard reading 59 for five but a partnership of 49 with Vikram Khatwani proved to Gibraltar that their chase was not a lost cause and although Chris Allan scored only one run from 22 balls, he gave Latin valuable support in an eighth wicket stand of 24.
Tahir Mahmood finally dismissed Allan, to give him his fourth wicket but when his 10 overs ran out the back-up bowling did not cause the same problems.

Mahmood was the unluckiest player to be on the losing side. At the start of the day he had dominated the Germany innings, scoring 83 out of 125 from just 86 balls with 14 fours as Gibraltar captain Karan Aswani surprisingly refused to give his opening bowlers a break. After five overs, Germany were 47 for no wicket and when Allen and Chris Phillips completed their 20 overs, the score had progressed to 106 for three.

When Aswani brought himself on, the runs still flowed, 25 runs coming off his first three, and it was Kabir Mirpuri, this year’s Germany Under 19 captain, who finally dismissed Mahmood. Only four other batsmen reached double figures and no one reached 20 as Mirpuri finished with three for 34 from just seven overs.

Such was the speed of the runs and fall of wickets that Germany were bowled out in the 36th over, a run rate of more than five an over. It looked as if it would be enough but the script was in Latin.

Gibraltar will now meet Jersey on Wednesday in the probable Group A decider for a place in Thursday’s final. The favourites open their campaign against Germany on Tuesday.

In the opening Group B match, 10-man France were 40 runs too strong for Italy at Port Soif.

It was a horror start for the French who lost their first four wickets for 16 but a fifth wicket stand of 61 between Sulanga Hewawalandanage (30) and Jonathon Houghton put them back on track and Rameez Ihsan then top scored from No 7 with 36 not out to get France up to 167. Luca Moscatellini was the pick of the bowlers, not just because he took three wickets but because he did not bowl a single wide. The five other Italy bowlers sent down 34.

Italy’s start was almost as bad, losing four for 25 and they did not have the partnerships to threaten the French dominance. Ihsan followed up his batting heroics with five wickets for 41 - 18 of them wides - and although Gayashan De Silva finished 49 not out, he ran out of partners and France will hope to surprise hosts Guernsey in Tuesday Group B game.

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