Morgan's hundred lights up the first day

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 4:07 AM

Morgan's hundred lights up the first day
Huge appeal by Max Stokoe
Spain, Portugal and the Isle of Man all got their tournament off to a winning start on Monday, with a hundred for Spain's James Morgan the highlight of the first morning's play.

On the Ropa Valley No. 2 ground, Morgan hit eleven fours and five sixes, facing just 53 deliveries as he dominated an imposing Spanish total of 207 for six. Nobody else made more than 19, the score registered by both Christopher Muñoz-Mills and Talat Ali.

Richard Neale was the pick of the Luxembourg bowlers with three for 24 off three overs.

Luxembourg were always going to struggle against such a target, but Joost Mees fought back with 30-ball knock of 40, and captain Tony Whiteman contributed an unbeaten 30 from 28 deliveries as his side battled their way to 137 for seven, losing by 70 runs.

Farhat Mahmood claimed three for 26 from his four overs for Spain.

The star bowler of the morning, however, was Portugal's Ricardo Pais, who took four for 15 - all clean bowled - and enabled his side to restrict Malta to a modest 124 for seven.

Malta were given a great start by Nowell Khosla, who made a 39-ball 48 before he was caught at deep midwicket off the bowling of Zafar Ali, and who shared a valuable stand of 72 with Frankie Spiteri (24).

When Justin Brooke removed Nadeem Butt and Derek Ali accounted for Inteshab Mehdi Portugal were on 30 for two in reply, and it seemed possible that the Maltese might succeed in defending their total, but Tariq Aziz and Rizwan Khaliq frustrated their hopes with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 96.

Aziz finished it in the 18th over with successive boundaries which also brought up a splendid personal half-century. He ended on 55 not out, made from 56 deliveries with five fours, while Khaliq made 42 from 34 with six boundaries.

The closest game of the morning session was at Messonghi, where the Isle of Man beat Cyprus by just 19 runs.

The Manx got off to a great start with an opening stand of 94 between Max Stokoe and Gareth Morris, which was ended when Gurbhej Singh removed the latter for 43, made from 37 deliveries, with two fours and three sixes.

Stokoe was more circumspect, his 42 coming from 53 balls with five fours and a six, while his brother Alex and Oliver Webster pushed the total up to 166 for three with a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket, both remaining unbeaten on 28, from 13 and 11 deliveries respectively.

Syed Hussain gave Cyprus a magnificent start with 51, hitting four fours and five sixes and facing just 27 balls as he scored all but 11 of his side's first 62 runs. Once he went stumped Muhammad Mohsin carried on the attack with a 17-ball cameo of 26, but after that the Cypriot challenge faltered, and with Alex Stokoe claiming three for 33 they ended on 147 for eight.

Sweden opening their campaign at the Marina ground on Monday afternoon, and denied the Isle of Man a second victory of the day with a convincing five-wicket victory. A brilliant display of boundary hitting by Christopher Tebbutt and Yasir Ikram saw them pass the Isle of Man's total of 136 with eleven balls to spare.

Max Stokoe and Gareth Morris, got their side off to a sound start with a partnership of 53 which was ended when Sandeep Sharma caught Morris in the eighth over. However, the next seven overs produced only 35 runs as Sandeep and Azam Khalil combined to slow the scoring rate with some accurate slow bowling.

That the Isle of Man reached a final total of 136 was due to some late boundaries from Gareth Dawson and Garreth Roome. Best of the Swedish bowlers was Azam Khalil with three for 21.

Shahid Mustafa and Naveed Anjum got Sweden off to a fast start but then both fell in quick succession. When Ashik Imtiaz was leg before to Roome, Sweden were in some trouble at 31 for three.

That brought Tebbutt to the wicket, however, to play what was to be the match-winning innings. He and Sunny Sharma took the score to 65 in the 11th over before Sharma was caught at mid off by Dawson.

Yasir Ikram announced himself with a six from his first ball and 18 in all from that over. Tebbutt then took over with a series of magnificent shots and when he was bowled, just two short of victory, he had made 57 from 44 balls, including seven fours and two sixes.

Meanwhile in the Ropa Valley, Luxembourg and promoted side Estonia fought hard to defend low totals against Israel and Portugal respectively, and both gave their opponents a serious scare before finally succumbing.

On the Ropa No.1 ground, Luxembourg tried a different strategy after their bowlers had taken a pounding from the Spanish batsmen in the morning game, and Tony Whiteman elected to bat first on winning the toss.

Israel's new-ball attack of Gerrit Grundling and Herschel Gutman was quickly on top, reducing Luxembourg to 15 for four. Grundling finished with the remarkable figures of two for 3 from four overs, and only Taral Desai showed any sign of mastering the bowling, making a 37-ball 36 which included four fours and two sixes.

Josh Evans also produced a good spell for the Israelis, taking two for 22 from his four overs.

But the final score of 88 for nine fell well short of what seemed likely to be necessary, and Gutman and Daniel Hyman began their chase confidently. Richard Neale secured the breakthrough, however, removing both Hyman and Evans, and when Madhu Ramachandran dismissed Eshkol Solomon, and soon afterwards Gutman, while Chris Evans accounted for Raymond Aston, the Israeli innings was faltering on 40 for five.

Danny Hotz and Yaniv Razpurker put their side back on track with a useful little stand of 28 for the sixth wicket. Razpurker and finally Yefeth Nagavkar saw their side home with more than three overs to spare.

Next door on the No. 2 ground, Estonia had a tough welcome to Division 2 cricket when opener Moshiur Rahman was caught by Portuguese keeper Rizwan Khaliq off Zafar Ali's initial delivery of the match.

Tim Filer followed soon afterwards, and when captain Timothy Heath went without scoring the Estonians found themselves struggling on 15 for three. They, too, were partially rescued by a fifth-wicket stand of 47 between Murali Obili (25) and Marko Vaik (13), and with Sivalingam Arunachalam contributing an unbeaten 22 they managed to get the total up to 115 for eight.

Muhammad Mirza was the main wicket-taker for Portugal with four for 21, while there were two wickets apiece for Zafar Ali and Ricardo Pais.

Nadeem Butt and Tariq Aziz got the Portuguese reply off to a good start with an opening stand of 32, but the Estonian bowlers, backed up by enthusiastic fielding, maintained a good discipline, and with Moshiur Rahman taking three for 21, including the wicket of Butt for 30, Portugal did not have it all their own way.

It was Pais who made the difference, playing a crucial innings of 35, from 26 deliveries with two fours and two sixes, and by the time he was fifth out the Portuguese only needed another six runs for victory.

Still, the overs were beginning to run out, and there were only three balls to spare when Zafar Ali hit the six which gave his side the win.

Problems with the non-arrival of their kit meant that Finland's Monday matches, against Hellas at the Marina ground and Croatia at Messonghi, were postponed. A change of schedule has been confirmed by the Event Technical Committee with three games taking place at the Marina game tomorrow.

Brief scores:

At Ropa 1: Malta 124-7, 20 overs (Nowell Khosla 48; Jose Ricardo Pais 4-15)

Portugal 128-2, 17.3 overs (Tariq Aziz 55 not out, Rizwan Khaliq 42 not out)

Portugal won by 8 wickets

At Ropa 1: Luxembourg 88-9, 20 overs (Taral Desai 36)

Israel 90-6, 16.5 overs

Israel won by 4 wickets

At Ropa 2: Estonia 115-8, 20 overs (Muhammad Mirza 4-21)

Portugal 120-5, 19.3 overs (Jose Ricardo Pais 35; Moshiur Rahman 3-21)

Portugal won by 5 wickets

At Ropa 2: Spain 207-6, 20 overs

Luxembourg 137-7, 20 overs

Spain won by 70 runs

At Marina: Isle of Man 136-6, 20 overs (Azam Khalil 3-21)

Sweden 137-5, 18.1 overs (Yasir Ikram 31 not out)

Sweden won by 5 wickets

At Messonghi: Isle of Man 166-3, 20 overs (Garreth Morris 43, Max Stokoe 42)

Cyprus 147-8, 20 overs (Muhammad Tahir 51)

Isle of Man won by 19 runs

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