Isle of Man claim top spot as Malta slide out of Division 2
The Isle of Man became Division 2 champions at the Marina ground on Saturday afternoon with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Sweden.
Chasing a modest Swedish total of 122 for seven, the Manxmen were set on their way by a splendid opening partnership between Max Stokoe and Gareth Morris, who put on 104 in twelve overs before Stokoe holed out to Sunny Sharma at long on off the bowling of medium-pacer Azam Khalil. He had made 33 from 36 deliveries, with four boundaries.
Morris, whose 71 came from 41 deliveries and included five fours and five sixes, was caught four balls later, but by this time the Isle of Man needed only 11 for victory, and Philip Littlejohns and Oliver Webster knocked off the runs in just twelve more deliveries, taking their side home with more than five overs to spare.
Earlier, Sweden had battled to set a competitive total against a persistent Manx attack, and although they reached 51 for one at one stage, it took them more than ten overs to do so. They had also suffered the loss of Ashik Imtiaz, who was forced to retire with an injury when he had made 22.
Sunny Sharma top-scored with a run-a-ball 24, but the heart of the Swedish batting was torn out by a fine spell from Mark Williams, who took three for 23 in his four overs. With Max Stokoe claiming two for 16, the innings never really developed the necessary momentum, and 122 was well short of a winning total. That was quickly proved by Stokoe and Morris's decisive opening stand.
Cyprus successfully avoided relegation to Division 3 in their crucial play-off match at the Marina ground on Saturday morning, but for their Maltese opponents the ten-wicket defeat meant that they would drop down to the lower division for the next tournament cycle.
Put in by Cypriot captain Michaelis Kyriacou, Malta reached 50 for one in the ninth over of their innings, thanks to a brisk start from Justin Brooke and a steady one from Nowell Khosla. Brooke hit three boundaries in his knock of 16 before he succumbed to a remarkable one-handed catch in the gully by Andrew Mulkern, while Khosla reached 26 before edging a Dineja Agathocleous delivery to keeper Nimal Durayalage.
But these were the only two Maltese batsmen to reach double figures as first Agathocleous, with five for 12, and then Tahir Mohsin (four for 16) ran through the middle and lower order, with the side ultimately being dismissed for 84 in 18.1 overs.
Kyriacou and Mohsin then breezed to this target in just 11.2 overs, with Kyriacou initially the more aggressive but being overtaken by his partner in the closing overs. Kyriacou finished on 35 from 34 deliveries, while Mohsin made 58 from 35, 31 of them from the last eleven deliveries he faced, hitting eight fours and two sixes.
At Messonghi, Spain clinched third place with a 90-run victory over Israel, who were only able to field nine players because of injuries and religious observance.
In another powerful batting display the Spaniards ran up a total of 258 for eight, surpassing their previous best of 248 for six against Portugal. The runs came from Tariq Ali, who made 58 from 18 deliveries, with five fours and five sixes, sharing an opening stand of 78 with Armaghan Khan (29), from Pedro Venus Valiente (44 from 26), and from Nizar Ahmed, whose 19-ball 50 included two fours and six sixes.
Israeli wicketkeeper Shailesh Bangera discarded the gloves for this game and was the most successful of the bowlers with three for 32, while Herschel Gutman and Shifron Waskar picked up two apiece.
This total was always going to be beyond the depleted Israelis, but Josh Evans (52) and Bangera (64 not out) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 80 which lent respectability to their score, and the innings closed on 168 for four.
In the remaining play-off matches, hosts Hellas made sure of fifth spot with a comfortable 46-run victory over Finland, and Luxembourg claimed ninth place by beating Croatia by 20 runs.
Nik Pothas registered his best score of the week with a 40-ball 68 against Finland, helping his side to a total of 169 for six. The Finns only lost three wickets in their reply, but accurate bowling by the Greeks, especially from paceman Dimitrios Triantafillidis (one for 16 from four overs) and left-arm spinner Mehmood Ahmad (one for 12), restricted them to just 123.
The Finnish batsmen all got a start, with Jonathan Scamans the top-scorer with 37 not out from 30 deliveries.
In the afternoon battle at Messonghi for seventh place, Estonia's Vineeth Govind put Portugal on the back foot after they had won the toss and elected to bat, taking three for 17 in a four-over spell which helped reduce the opposition to 48 for five.
But Khalid Izaz led a Portuguese recovery with a 26-ball 49 which included five sixes, and with Bilal Safdar contributing 21 and Muhammad Mirza 22 not out, they eventually reached 164 for eight. Sivalingam Arunachalam also took three wickets for Estonia, at a cost of 33 runs.
Moshiur Rahman gave his side a chance with a 28-ball 47 when Estonia replied, he and Remo Raud putting on 65 for the first wicket, but once he was out the tempo slowed, and in the end the Estonians could only manage 133 for eight, losing by 31 runs.
There were two wickets apiece for Khalid Izaz, Nadeem Nazar and Lakhbir Kensrey as the Portuguese pegged the Estonians back, making sure that they finished the tournament in seventh place.
Luxembourg's total of 136 all out owed much to an innings of 52 from 25 deliveries by Taral Desai, who shared a sixth-wicket stand of 59 with skipper Tony Whiteman (27). The early damage for Croatia was done by Michael Grzinić and Craig Sinovich, each of whom took two wickets as Luxembourg slumped to 35 for four, and then Paul Mušin (three for 31) and Vivek Sharma (two for 23) cleaned up the lower order.
Michael Grzinić was again Croatia's main scorer with 49 from 43 balls, but the rest of the batsmen have struggled all week to make runs, and they finished on 116 for six.
At Marina: Final
Sweden 122-7, 20 overs (Mark Williams 3-23)
Isle of Man 124-2, 14.5 overs (Gareth Morris 71)
Isle of Man won by 8 wickets
At Messonghi: 3rd/4th play-off
Spain 258-8, 20 overs (Tariq Ali 58, Nisar Ahmed 50, LP Venus Valiente 44)
Israel 168-4, 20 overs (Josh Evans 52, Shailesh Bangera)
Spain won by 90 runs
At Ropa 1: 5th/6th play-off
Hellas 169-6, 20 overs (Nik Pothas 68)
Finland 123-3, 20 overs (Jonathan Scamans 37 not out)
Hellas won by 46 runs
At Messonghi: 7th/8th play-off
Portugal 164-8, 20 overs (Khalid Izaz 49; Vineth Govind 3-17, Siva Arunachalam 3-33)
Estonia 133-8, 20 overs
Portugal won by 31 runs
At Ropa 2: 9th/10th play-off
Luxembourg 136, 20 overs (Taral Desai 52; Paul Musin 3-31)
Croatia 116-6, 20 overs (Michael Grzinic 49)
Luxembourg 20 runs
At Marina: 11th/12th play-off
Malta 96, 18.1 overs (Tahir Mohsin 4-16)
Cyprus 97-0, 11.2 overs (Tahir Mohsin 58 not out, Mike Kyriacou 35 not out)
ICC European Division 2 Championship Final Placings (as of 8 September)
1st Isle of Man