|European Division 4: Cyprus, September 2009 2010|
Last pair take Austria to victory
A SUPERB partnership between Amar Naeem and Satish Kaul inspired a nerve-jangling one wicket win for Austria in their game against Luxembourg.
When Kaul joined his partner in only the 15th over, Austria, needing 143 to win, were 41 for seven and everyone was preparing for an early finish on Pitch 1 at Happy Valley. But not Austria’s Nos 8 and 9. They dug in and then started hitting boundaries in a stand of 89, from just 21 overs, to put the Austrians within sight of victory. But the excitement was only just beginning.
First Kaul was stumped off the bowling of Romesh Paul for 46 and next over Naeem, after making 42, popped one up to point and Nishith Gandhi held the easy catch. Last man Muhammad Akhtar joined No 10 Nitin Sharma with still 10 runs wanted. A six by Akhtar over long-on closed the gap between the teams to two and a lofted shot over mid-on brought the scores level at the end of the 39th over.
Sharma then played three ‘dot’ balls before pulling the fourth to square leg. It was straight to the fielder but he failed to hold on, the batsmen ran the single and Austria had won their second successive game.
Although Luxembourg were desperately disappointed not to get the tie it was particularly unfortunate for Ghandi who had ripped out Austria’s top four in his first three overs, at a cost of just four runs. Piran Merkl then took two wickets in successive overs and with Richard Neale also claiming a wicket, Austria were in disarray until their late-order batsmen performed the heroic and successful rescue act.
When Luxembourg were 101 for four in the 35th over they seemed to be in control of the match but three wickets in successive overs, including top scorer Richard Neale, for the addition of just five runs hauled Austria back into the game.
Akhtar took two late wickets to finish as Austria’s most successful bowler with three for 16 but the best part of his day was still to come.