|European Under 15 (Division 2) Championship: Bologna, Italy, August 2009|
Belgium defeat Germany by ten wickets
Belgium kick started their campaign with an emphatic all round display against Germany.
Chasing a moderate German total of just 124, the Belgians raced to the win in just 12.2 overs, thanks to a quite superb unbroken opening partnership of 125 between Fraser McRae and skipper Jonathan Aron.
McRae was the dominant force in the stand, making an undefeated 71 from just 39 balls. He found the boundary ropes on no fewer than 14 times, as well as crashing two huge sixes, the last over deep square leg clinching the ten wicket win.
He was particularly brutal in anything erring in length, and sadly the German bowlers were only too often found wanting in that department. He was very strong square of the wicket, unleashing some powerful cuts and pulls.
One shouldn’t underestimate the influence of Aron , who himself struck seven boundaries in his 35 not out, which came from 45 deliveries. He too played the pull shot well, and also drove the ball well through the covers and down the ground.
In the German innings, Leonard Gerhardt top scored with 39 from 56 balls, hitting 7 fours in his knock. He struck the ball well after a nervous start, and one square cut will live long in the memory.
Openers Haris Mubarak (18), and Nabeel Malik (12), had given their side a solid platform with a stand of 35, but after that they lost wickets with alarming regularity, stumbling to 75 for 7 at one stage before Gerhart’s late heroics.
The Belgium bowlers stuck to their task well, and bowled with great discipline and skill. Their most successful bowlers were Viral Kothari (3-19), and Naman Parikh (3-22), while Jonathan Aron (2-10), Nick Dunn (1-13), and Fraser McRae (1-25) were the other wicket takers.
The final word on the match must give mention to wicket-keeper Robert Sehmi, who gave as good an exhibition of glove work as we are likely to witness this week.
He had no fewer than three stumpings with his lightning reflexes, as well as clinging onto a quite brilliant catch.
A thoroughly professional display by a very talented Belgium side who will surely on this evidence be among the front runners for the title.