|European Under 19 (Division 2) Championship: Belgium, August 2009|
Nirvam Shah and Farmiloe steer Belgium to the title
Belgium took the European Under 19 Division 2 title by the narrowest of margins in Antwerp on Sunday, completing a sensational ten-wicket victory over Italy to pip the Isle of Man on the final day of competition.
After bowling Italy out for 161, the hosts knew that they could not afford to lose more than one wicket in overhauling their opponents if they were to finish ahead of the Manxmen on wicket run rate, but skipper Nirvam Shah and his opening partner Jamie Farmiloe made absolutely sure by completing the task on their own, reaching their target in the 31st over.
Helped by some indifferent bowling from the Italian seamers, who had great difficulty in maintaining a length, Shah was particularly harsh with anything short, hitting a succession of leg-side sixes, including the one which gave his side the win and the title. He finished on 86, made from exactly 100 deliveries, with six fours and seven sixes.
Farmiloe was more circumspect, but his driving became progressively more definitive, and he ended with 59, off 85 balls with eight boundaries.
Only spinner Lositha Kankanamage was able to command respect from the Belgian pair, conceding only 17 runs in eight steady overs.
Earlier, the Italian innings had again been held together by Roshendra Abeywickrama, who made 56 from 115 deliveries before he was ninth out in the 44th over. This made him the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 261 runs at an average of 52.20; having also taken ten wickets at 9.50, he was unsurprisingly later named as Player of the Tournament.
He shared a second-wicket stand of 49 with Kankanamage, but the Belgian attack was too effective for the rest of the Italian batsmen, Akshat Sanghvi picking up four for 34 to finish as the leading wicket-taker in the competition.
France also completed a ten-wicket victory on Sunday, although theirs was in a Twenty20 match played at Lasne. The win cemented their fourth place in the tournament.
They dismissed wooden-spooners Germany for 96, with Resuan Afzal (29) and Kashif Mahmood (24) again the most successful of the German batsmen.
Tom Liddiard took four for 26 for France, while Rory Gribbell had the remarkable figures of 4 – 3 – 1 – 1 – and that 1 was a wide!
Then Jon Houghton wasted no time in knocking off the runs, hitting a devastating 33-ball 66, while his partner Robin Murphy made 28 as France reached their target in just 12 overs.
Israel could largely thank Safania Nagavkar (43) and Nir Dokarker (37) for their total of 193 for eight against Gibraltar in Mechelen, the former dominating the early part of the innings and the latter taking over after his dismissal.
Julian Freyone was the most successful member of the Gibraltar attack with three for 37, while Robbie Skinner (two for 26) again bowled well.
Gibraltar then collapsed dramatically to 15 for six in just eight overs, finding the outswingers of Shifron Waskar virtually unplayable. Waskar took five for 19, and his new-ball partner Shalom Kristi two for 10, and although Gibraltar managed to recover a little from this disastrous point, Gabi Schachat picked up two for 6 as the innings ended in the 21st over with the total on 57.