|European Division 5: Corfu, Greece, September 2009 2010|
Hellas just miss another 300 total, but Sweden post 348
The first real surprise of the tournament took place at Ropa Valley on Wednesday, where Bulgaria beat Estonia by six wickets to secure their maiden victory in European competition.
In a low-scoring match, Mohamad Hanif took four for 20 for Bulgaria as the Estonians collapsed from 54 for three to 73 for nine, only a dogged last-wicket partnership between Shiva Arunachalam and Kalle Vilslappu enabling them to reach 91.
At 17 for three in response, Bulgaria appeared to be in real danger of suffering a third successive defeat, but Vikram Tewatia held firm, compiling a patient not-out 26 and putting on 34 for the fourth wicket with Mohamad Hanif.
After Hanif departed, caught behind by Andres Burget off the bowling of Shiva Arunachalam for 18, first Lyubomir Zanev and then Parkash Mishra supported Tewatia in valuable partnerships which took the Bulgarians to the brink of victory.
There were two wickets each for Murali Obili and Arunachalam, but Bulgaria always had plenty of overs in hand and eventually made it home with 16 left, Tewatia taking the Man of the Match award.
If low scoring was the order of the day on the Ropa Valley No. 1 ground, it certainly wasn’t the case in the remaining games.
On the adjacent No. 2 ground, Sweden recovered from a precarious 39 for three after being put in by the Czech Republic to post a massive 348 for nine, Chris Tebbutt recording the first century of the tournament with a fine 104-ball innings of 108, including 11 fours and two sixes.
But it was Azam Khalil who turned things round, hitting an aggressive 50 with four fours and three sixes, the first of the latter a huge straight blow which declared his intentions from the outset. Together he and Tebbutt put on 87 for the fourth wicket, and by the time Tebbutt was eighth out the score had progressed from 39 to 288.
Useful support came from Sanaullah Habizai and Maqsood Khawaja, while in the latter stages of the innings Leif Walgren and Sandeep Sharma took a heavy toll of the exhausted and despondent Czech bowlers, Sharma smacking three sixes as he made a rapid 19-ball 29.
All the bowlers came in for some punishment, though Josef Jindra was comparatively economical with two for 42 from his nine overs.
The Czechs began brightly, reaching 37 before Imran Zaigham achieved the first breakthrough. That opened a gap through which Azam Khalil promptly stormed, picking up four quick wickets to reduce the opposition to 63 for five.
Then Maqsood Khawaja claimed two in one over, and the Czech Republic had slumped to 64 for seven.
It looked like capitulation, but Arif Javed had other ideas, his 23-ball 31, including two fours and three sixes, making him the top scorer ahead of opener Manjeet Malik’s 27. It could not last, however, and the innings closed on 125 in the 32nd over, giving Sweden a massive margin of 223 runs.
Khalil finished with four for 13, with Khawaja taking two for 26 and a wicket each for Zaigham, Walgren, Sharma and Adnan Raza.
Hellas maintained their unbeaten record as they strolled to victory over a nevertheless combative Turkish side at Marina. Having posted the daunting total of 299 for 9 in their 50 overs, the Greeks were never in any real danger of being overhauled and would run out comfortable winners by as many as 209 runs.
For the second day in a row it was diminutive left-hander Mehmood Ahmed who top-scored for the Hellenes. His stylish 69 was laced with nine boundaries and was the foundation for another monstrous late-innings assault.
At first it was Anastasios Manousis who took over from Mehmood, making a quickfire 58 from 46 balls with 5 fours and a six. But even this was positively sedentary in comparison with Stamatious Giourgas: his 43 occupied a mere 24 balls and included five boundaries and a maximum. Turkish captain Jonathan Clarkson was the pick of his attack and returned figures of 3 for 55.
In reply, the Turks got off to a flier, reaching 29 for 0 after the first five overs as Muhammad Aasim drove beautifully down the ground. However, when Spiros Goustis found his rhythm wickets soon began to tumble. With the score on 30, Iordanis Kontarinis held catches off consecutive deliveries at short cover and from here the Turks subsided to 90 all out in 26.1 overs.
Goustis would finish with another five-wicket haul to take his tally to an astonishing 13 in three days, while off-spinner Manousis also picked up a three-for near the end of the Turkish innings. This concluded an excellent all-round performance which deservedly earned him the man-of-the-match award.