Ali delivers knockout blows as Spain maintain 100% record
Tariq Ali - The Star of the Day
Hosts Hellas suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Sweden on the tournament's second morning in a thrilling encounter which went all the way to the final, but the morning's other events were overshadowed by a sensational innings from Spanish opener Tariq Ali, who smashed an unbeaten 150 against Estonia.
A see-sawing game at the Ropa No. 1 ground seemed to have swung Hellas's way when seamer Dimitrios Triantaffilidis returned to claim three wickets, leaving the Swedes nine down and still needing two runs for victory from the final over.
Sandeep Sharma defended the first delivery before edging the second over slip, and Mehmood Ahmed could only get a despairing hand to the ball as the batsmen took the second run which gave Sweden the points.
The new Hellas captain, Nic Pothas, made a fine 46-ball, unbeaten 42 as the hosts, put in to bat, battled their way to a fairly modest 114 for four, and it might have been a good deal less but for a late onslaught by Koutsoufis on Sweden's Azam Khalil, in which he hit three sixes in four deliveries to take his own score to 29, made from 18 balls.
Shahid Mustafa and Sadat Sidiqi put on 40 for the first wicket when Sweden replied, and with Sidiqi batting with great composure they reached71 for three. But the Greek spin pair of Mehmood Ahmed and Aslam Mohammad pegged them back picking up two wickets apiece and conceding just 43 runs in seven overs between them.
It was Aslam who finally had Sidiqi brilliantly stumped by Pothas for 41, made from 39 balls with two fours and a six, but when Triantafillidis came back the wickets tumbled, and it was only Sharma's moment of good fortune which denied the Greeks victory and gave Sweden their second successive win.
Spain's 125-run victory over Estonia at Messonghi was completely dominated by Tariq Ali's magnificent innings of 150 not out. His 66-ball knock included 16 sixes and five fours and much of his 80-minute stay at the crease was spent retrieving balls which had been hit out of the ground or into the windows of the neighbouring hotel.
Faced with a target of 219 for victory, Estonia quickly slumped to 32 for five and the game was over as a contest.
Having chosen to bat first, Spain immediately set about the Estonian bowling with Armaghan Khan and Tariq Ali taking the score to the century mark in just nine overs before Armaghan fell for 38, made from 28 balls. Tariq Ali was already blazing away and most of the Estonian bowlers were put to the sword as he punished anything on leg stump or outside the off stump, with midwicket and long on being his favourite hitting areas. Unfortunately for Estonia, their catching was below par and they gave Tariq a couple of lives early in his innings.
In the midst of all the boundary hitting, Sivalingam Arunacharam produced the best spell of Estonian bowling, conceding just 31 runs in his four overs and claiming three Spanish wickets.
Estonia immediately struggled against some disciplined Spanish seam bowling. Only Moshiur Rahman and Tim Heath (40 from 34 balls) at the top order were able to get to grips with the pace and bounce.
Sajid Ali took three wickets in a spell which conceded just 17 runs, while Tanveer Iqbal, Talat Ali and Armaghan Khan all conceded less than 5 runs per over as they captured two wickets apiece as Estonia closed on 93 for nine.
At Ropa No. 2 Israel secured their second win of the tournament with a comfortable victory over Malta. Gabi Schachat top-scored in their innings of 133 for eight, making 28 from 34 balls, while there were two wickets each for Justin Brooke, Nowell Khosla and Mike Caruana.
This always looked likely to be too many for Malta's batsmen, and although Frankie Spiteri hit a spirited 45-ball 43, including five fours and a six, they could only manage 92 for nine in reply. Steven Shein was the most successful of the Israeli bowlers with three for 21.
At the Marina ground, Cyprus posted a comfortable eight-wicket victory over a disappointing Croatian side, who were relegated from Division 1 last season.
Having elected to bat first, Croatia managed to make 100 for five, with Craig Sinovich making 43 (from 48 deliveries) and John Vujnovich 30. Tahir Mohsin took three for 25 for Cyprus, while Niroshan Pelawattha conceded just 7 runs in a three-over spell.
Cyprus were never seriously troubled in their reply, Dineja Agathocleous (30) and Syed Hussain (32) putting on 40 in an opening stand dominated by the latter, and Agathocleous and Tahir Mohsin (30 not out) then adding a further 54 for the second wicket to take their side to the brink of victory, which was achieved with five overs to spare.
Spain's Tariq Ali followed up his morning 150 not out against Estonia with another innings of huge hitting; this time he made 148 against Portugal and managed to surpass his morning tally of 16 sixes with a further 18 maximums - and it was done in even fewer balls faced ? 55 as against 66 in his morning innings.
Spain went on to win the game by 75 runs but the game also featured another fabulous batting display - by Portugal's 18-year-old Number six Bilal Safdar, who struck 82 from 37 balls faced. His array of attacking strokes contained nine sixes (three of which came off successive deliveries).
Both teams came into this Iberian derby with a pair of victories under their belts. Batting first after winning the toss Spain made 248 for six in their 20 overs, with Christian Munoz-Mills (30) and Armaghan Khan (26) both playing useful roles in support of Tariq Ali. Portugal began poorly and any slim chance of victory had disappeared by the time their fourth wicket fell with just 42 runs on the board.
That did not deter Safdar and Rizwan Khaliq (40), however, as they combined to share a brilliant partnership of 117 before both fell in successive deliveries at the start of the 18th over. The most successful bowler for Spain was Talat Ali with three for 24 in four overs as Portugal finished on 173 for seven wickets.
For hosts Hellas, a day which had started disappointingly with a last-over defeat by Sweden went from bad to worse as they were comprehensively beaten by the Isle of Man at Ropa Valley No. 2.
The Manx batsmen were given a great start by openers Max Stokoe and Gareth Morris, who put on 111 before Spyridon Goustis secured the initial breakthrough, bowling Morris for a superb 44-ball 66 which included two fours and six sixes.
Stokoe fell soon afterwards, dismissed by the same bowler for 40, but Philip Littlejohns (25 not out from 13 deliveries) and Oliver Webster (37 from 16, with five fours and two sixes) built on that platform, and saw their side through to a challenging total of 185 for three.
Hellas needed a good start, but Max Stokoe dismissed Alex Souvlakis off the first ball he received. Mehmood Ahmed top-scored with a run-a-ball 20, but when Arne van den Berg had Nic Pothas brilliantly caught at deep midwicket by Daniel Hawke, the game was effectively over.
Van den Berg took three for 18 as Hellas were dismissed for 83, giving the Isle of Man a thumping 102-run victory.
On the next-door No. 1 ground, Malta staged a remarkable comeback to beat Luxembourg by seven wickets. Opener Tim Barker, still a week short of his 17th birthday, got Luxembourg off to a terrific start with a 45-ball knock of 55, and he was well supported by skipper Tony Whiteman's 25-ball 35.
Justin Brooke, George Agius and Derek Ali claimed two wickets apiece, but Luxembourg put up their most convincing batting display so far with a challenging 151 for eight.
Nowell Khosla gave Malta a steady start in reply, making 42 from 41 deliveries, but although they had wickets in hand Malta's required rate rose steadily thanks to steady bowling from Chris Evans and Nishith Gandhi, and it reached ten an over at one stage.
Luxembourg seemed to be heading for victory, but then Maltese captain Andrew Naudi produced an astonishing innings, smashing an undefeated 66 from just 27 deliveries, with five fours and five sixes, and with Ronnie Sacco contributing 15 not out from an amazing four balls, this pair added a match-winning 65 to see their side home with 13 balls to spare.
On a day of remarkable hitting, Finland came out of their triangular round-robin with two wins in relatively low-scoring games.
In the first, they succeeded in defending a total of 128 for nine against Cyprus, wicketkeeper-opener Michael Shaw top-scoring with 39 and Dineja Agathocleous taking four wickets at a cost of 23 runs.
Bizarrely, Cyprus lost only two wickets in their reply and still fell eight runs short of their target, despite a second-wicket stand of 96 between Syed Hussain (39) and Tahir Mohsin (65 not out from 55 deliveries, with four fours and four sixes).
The Finnish bowlers did even better in their second game, restricting Croatia to 95 for six. Craig Sinovich was the top scorer with a steady 36, sharing a third-wicket stand of 55 with Michael Grzini? (32).
Bilal Khan, who had bowled four overs for 15 runs against Cyprus, was again extremely economical with two for 21, but he was outdone by captain Amrik Bhatia, who took three for 13 in his four overs.
Zahidullah Kamal led the Finnish reply with an unbeaten, 54-ball innings of 55, and his side cruised to victory by seven wickets in 17.3 overs.
At Ropa 1: Hellas 114-4, 20 overs (Nic Pothas 42 not out)
Sweden 115-9, 19.2 overs (Sadat Sidiqi 41; Dimitrios Triantafillidas 3-23)
Sweden won by 1 wicket
At Ropa 1: Luxembourg 151-8, 20 overs (Timothy Barker 55)
Malta 153-3, 17.5 overs (Andrew Naudi 66 not out, Nowell Khosla 42)
Malta won by 7 wickets
At Ropa 2: Israel 133-8, 20 overs
Malta 92-9, 20 overs
Israel won by 41 runs
At Ropa 2: Isle of Man 185-3, 20 overs (Garreth Morris 66, Max Stokoe 40)
Hellas 83, 17.2 overs (Arne van den Berg 3-18)
Isle of Man won by 102 runs
At Marina: Croatia 100-5, 20 overs (Craig Sinovich 43; Tahir Mohsin 3-25)
Cyprus 101-2, 14 overs
Cyprus won by 8 wickets
At Marina: Finland 128-9, 20 overs (Michael Shaw 39; Dineja Agathocleous 4-23)
Cyprus 120-2, 20 overs (Tahir Mohsin 65 not out)
Finland won by 8 runs
At Marina: Croatia 95-6, 20 overs (Amrik Bhatia 3-13)
Finland 96-3, 17.3 overs
Finland won by 7 wickets
At Messonghi: Spain 218-6, 20 overs (Tariq Ali 150 not out, Armaghan Khan 38; Sivalingam Arunachalam 3-31)
Estonia 93-9, 20 overs
Spain won by 125 runs
At Messonghi: Spain 248-6, 20 overs (Tariq Ali 148)
Portugal 173-7, 20 overs (Bilal Safdar 82, Rizwan Khaliq 40; Talat Ali 3-24)
Spain won by 75 runs