|European Division 4: Cyprus, September 2009 2010|
Austria lose first match, to bitter rivals
SWITZERLAND ended Austria’s 100 per cent record in the big match on the penultimate day of the European Division Four Championships, with a 76 runs victory over their neighbours.
There was nothing neighbourly about the contest, with both teams desperate to get one over their bitter rivals and although the forecast suggested the possibility of thunderstorms in the area, Switzerland had no hesitation in batting.
It was first blood to Austria with opening bowlers Nitan Sharma and Ranga Peiris each taking a wicket in their second over to leave the Swiss seven for two.
A stand of 63 for the third wicket between Waqas Khawaja and Azeem Nazir swung the balance to the batting side before Mohammed Akhtar had Khawaja caught for 24.
Shanawan Muhammad then joined Nazir and he was dropped at first slip before he had scored. It was to be a fatal miss as this was to be the partnership which put Switzerland in control.
They were together for just 14 overs but added 94 runs, Shanawzar thumping eight boundaries, half of them sixes, and Nazir four fours and two sixes in his 74. Sharma broke the stand having Nazir caught and that sparked the loss of three wickets in three overs.
Mohammed Tariq with 23 from 20 balls and Rizwan Isadeen (15 from 14) however ensured the innings did not fall tamely away and it was the first ball of the last over before Peiris took the last wicket with the total an imposing 239.
No team has successfully chased 200 in Happy Valley this week and Austria’s nightmare start ensured they would not be the first. The top four were all back in the changing area inside 11 overs with two wickets apiece for opening bowlers Kamran Muhammed and Munawar Raja. That included the big wicket of Benji Loader, brilliantly caught at backward point by Julian Wessel for two.
Lakmal Kasthuriarachchige was determined to continue attacking and scored 33 off 39 balls with three fours and two sixes but Nazir bowled him for 33 and when Mohammed Tariq then took two wickets in successive overs, Austria were almost down and out at 74 for seven.
Amar Naeem, however, refused to give in and he went on to dominate the rest of the innings, last man out for a very good 84, from just 82 balls with seven fours and five sixes.
Raja finished with three for 41, the most successful Switzerland bowler, but this was a team performance which will send them into their final game against Luxembourg in good heart, although they will probably have to be satisfied with a third place finish.