Austria have shocked the field at the T20 World Cup Europe Sub-Regional Qualifier in Finland, beating Guernsey and Norway on the way to claim a spot at next year's continental Qualifier.
It means the Austrians are in the running for two spots from the European region for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024, held in the USA and the West Indies.
Austria stormed the group stage, beating Guernsey in a crucial contest in Vantaa to help move to the tournament final.
Holding the Channel Islanders to 139, the Austrians snuck home to chase the 140-run target with just two wickets and two balls to spare.
Iqbal Hossain (38 from 18 balls) and Razmal Shigiwal (42 from 29 balls) accelerated at the top of the order, though a collapse in the middle order saw the Austrians needing 15 from the final two overs with No.8 Abdullah Akbarjan and No.10 Umair Tariq at the crease.
Tariq (12* from six balls) showed calm in the final, guiding a David Hooper behind point for the upset win.
The final between Austria and Norway was shortened to 14 overs a side, and it was the tricky off-spin of Austria's Amit Nathwani that set the tone.
Nathwani forced mistimed aerial shots to claim 3/14 from his three overs, with Sahel Zadran (3/10) cleaning up the tail and bowling Norway out for 77.
With an adjusted target of 77 set per DLS calculations, Iqbal Hossain (66 off 36 balls) almost led a solo charge in the chase, only to be anti-climactically dismissed one run short of the target. In similar fashion, a Vinay Ravi wide was Austria's run to win the tournament.
As Austria were handed the Sub-Regional trophy, French young gun Gustav McKeon was crowned Player of the Tournament, finishing with 377 runs from five knocks at a strike rate of 164.62.
Who features in the Europe Qualifier Next Year?
The winners of the three Sub-Regional tournaments (Austria, Denmark and Italy) move to the European Finals next year, with two allocated spots for the 2024 tournament in the USA and West Indies.
The trio join Jersey, Germany, as well as the European sides who fail to secure 2024 qualification through the 2022 tournament: Ireland, the Netherlands and Scotland.
How did Denmark and Italy seal their continental Qualifier spots?
Belgium sent shockwaves through the first Sub-Regional Qualifier when they claimed an upset 12-run win over Denmark, though Freddie Klokker's men found their feet in the knockout stages, brushing aside Spain before and thumping final win over Portugal.
Star Danish all-rounder Nicolaj Laegsgaard was ever-present during the tournament, leading both the runs and wickets tally at the competition, adding nine wickets to an impressive 189-run campaign (SR 177, Average 37.80).
Taking 2/11 (4) in the final, Laegsgaard fell first ball in Denmark's chase to leave the door ajar for Portugal, only for Taranjit Bharaj (58* from 43 balls) and Hamid Shah (44* from 37 balls) to slam it shut.
Gareth Berg's Italy were largely untroubled in their successful Sub-Regional campaign, undefeated in the group stage and comprehensive in their final victory over Isle of Man.
Harry Manenti enjoyed his first assignment in national colours taking the wickets of the top three in the final, finishing with 3/14 (4) and holding Matthew Ansell's side to 101/8. In response, Marcus Campopiano's 35* (21) ensured their was no Manx comeback, with the Italians passing the 102 target in the 11th over.
What is the format of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024?
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 has been expanded to 20 teams, with qualification moving from global qualifiers to qualifiers through the five regions.
The top two teams at the European Regional Final series alongside qualifiers from the East-Asia Pacific, Africa, Asia and Americas regions will earn a place at the 2024 tournament alongside 12 automatically-qualifying teams made up of:
- the USA and West Indies as the hosts in 2024
- the top eight teams at the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this year
- the next highest-ranked teams in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings as of 14 November 2022
What's next for T20 World Cup 2024 qualification?
Attention for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 turns to Vanuatu, with the East Asia-Pacific Sub-Regional A Qualifier, pitting the hosts with Cook Islands, Fiji and Samoa.
All pathway events on the path to ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 are available on ICC.tv in all regions (other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan).
THIS IS THE BIG TIME!
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is coming to Australia from 16 October to 13 November 2022.