|European Division 4: Cyprus, September 2009 2010|
Austria move into pole position
AUSTRIA won the battle of the unbeaten teams in European Division Four, beating hosts Cyprus by five wickets with more than five overs to spare.
A third wicket stand of 97 between Klemens Cathcart and Ben Loader made light of their 118 runs victory target and although they lost three wickets in five balls within 11 runs of the winning post there was barely panic in the Austrian camp.
There was certainly little celebration by the Cyprus fielders as they contemplated their first defeat of the tournament and four overs later Wasif Saluja hit the winning run to put Austria clear at the top of the table. They meet neighbours Switzerland on Saturday and if they win that they will fancy themselves to complete a clean sweep against winless Slovenia.
Cyprus won the toss and, has been the norm in the morning heat of Limassol, chose to bat. It was a slow, cautious start, however, and when the first wicket fell in the 13th over only 27 runs were on the board. Anil Nair and Kashif Mushtaq put on 66 for the second wicket but from 93 for one they suffered a remarkable collapse, losing their last nine wickets for just 24 runs.
Satish Kaul was mainly responsible, taking five for 28 and Muhammad Akhtar took the last two wickets as the hosts were dismissed with 40 balls unused.
Because of the early finish to the innings, the Austrians had to face nine overs before lunch and were content to score only 10 runs. Amar Naeem failed to survive the 30-minute session and when fellow opener Tim Simpson was out in the first over after the break, Cyprus were on top.
Cathcart and Loader changed that, however and when they took the score past 100 without being separated, victory appeared a formality. However, Syed Mohammad, who had to give up the post of tournament organiser on the opening day to take up his role as a player in the Cyprus team, dismissed both batsmen in the space of three balls, having Cathcart caught at mid-wicket and then bowling Loader.
Next over, Kashif Mustaq had Austria’s best batsman, Laxmal Kasthuriarachchige caught behind without addition to the total but it was to be Cyprus’s last success. Saluja and Ervin Grasinger saw the Austrians to victory and they know that after one more win they can plan their upward exit from Division Four.