In the final round of matches of the WCL Europe Division 1, Germany ensured promotion to WCL division 5 with a win over Belgium, Sweden won the clash of the Scandinavians against Norway. Austria only just managed to hold off a young French side as the high-scoring game went to the very last ball.
Germany v Belgium
The Germans seemed to be on course for an easy win in the first innings against the Belgians, taking the first 8 wickets for just 108 runs. The tail wagged however and the Belgian lower order showed some grit and determination to get the score up to 190. Ashiqullah Said added 46 runs to the score. Some big hits into the parking lot by Reyhan Faiz (31) boosted the Belgian morale even more.
The Belgian bowlers created trouble for the Germans early on, with swing and pace and a loud and active fielding side. After the early wicket of Daniel Weston, the German batters kept their heads down and took no chances, slowly shifting the momentum back towards Germany. Captain Rishi Pillai (60*) led from the front, supported by Brandon Ess (57*). The winning runs came in the 32nd over and triggered the German celebrations as they secured a place in WCL division 5.
Germany progress to the 2017 ICC World Cricket League 5, to be played in South Africa in September. CEO Brian Mantle is looking forward to the road ahead: ‘We are delighted to have won the tournament and achieving our second successive promotion and are very excited about testing ourselves in the World Cricket League. The turnaround is fast so we are actively looking at ways to get the best preparation for success in South Africa in September. We are very confident in our team and backroom staff and are looking to make a mark at the higher level.’
Sweden v Norway
At the start of the day, both Sweden and Norway were still in with a theoretical chance at promotion, so there was still all to play for both Scandinavian teams. The Norwegian innings got off to a reasonable start, despite the early wicket of Raza Iqbal. The top and middle order all got starts and Norway was in a good position to accelerate at 117 for 4 in the 37th over. The Swedes had other ideas as they put on a good display in the field to take the catches and create run out opportunities. Norway was bowled out for 162.
With eight overs remaining before lunch was to be taken, the Swedish batters capitalized on their momentum. Swedish opener A Imtiaz (54) unleashed a ferocious display of hitting, to reach his half century before lunch. Sweden were in a very comfortable position after lunch at 70-0. The Norwegians came back strong however and dismissed Imtiaz in the 1st over after lunch. After this dismissal, the game swung back and forth as Norway took wickets in clusters and Sweden kept scoring runs despite the regular setbacks. Sweed Ullah (45) stabilized the innings and almost saw his team home, losing his wicket with just four runs required. Sweden passed the Norwegian score in the 37th over, for the loss of seven wickets.
Austria v France
The Austrian innings looked in trouble with the score on 98 for 5 in the 21st over. A recovery came through some strong partnerships, set up by I Asif (84) who scored at just over a run a ball. A regular loss of wickets meant that the the Austrians finished their innings on a gettable 238/9.
The French were looking to finish their tournament on a high but looked in trouble early on with the score at a precarious 60 for 4. Undeterred, the French continued their chase and through contributions from AV Ayyavooraju (52), Usman Khan (44) and Zika Ali (33) found themselves within touching distance of a heroic victory, entering the final over with just 8 runs needed to win, with two wickets in hand. the French lower order gave it everything, but in the end fell two runs short of the Austrian total. France’s final score 236/9