Belgium overwhelm Portugal to claim their final place
Belgium overpowered Portugal in Ghent on Friday morning to ease their way into Saturday’s final, and to make sure of a place in next month’s ICC European Division 1 Twenty20 tournament in the Channel Islands.
Portuguese captain Akbar Saiyad gambled on the success of his bowlers by putting the hosts in after he had won the toss, but the plan misfired as openers Nirvam Shah and Amir Iqbal put on 51 for the first wicket in just 38 deliveries.
Iqbal was eventually caught behind by Rizwan Khaliq off the bowling of Muhammad Shoaib for 27, but Shah and Jamie Farmiloe maintained the pressure, adding 70 from 44 balls, Shah reaching 69 before he was caught by Abu Butt off Babar Khan.
Three interruptions for rain did nothing to disrupt the momentum of the Belgian innings, and Portugal were to have no further success as Farmiloe and Shaheryar Butt plundered 115 from the final 45 deliveries to reach the highest total of the week so far – a massive 236 for two from twenty overs.
Butt’s 73 from 27 balls was one of the outstanding innings of the tournament, and included five fours and five sixes. Farmiloe gave him splendid support, making 40 off 26 deliveries and producing some extremely enterprising running between the wickets.
Portugal had no answer to the pace and accuracy of the Belgian opening bowlers, Shahid Muhammad and 19-year-old left-armer Waqas Shafiq taking seven wickets between them in their eight overs.
Shafiq struck the first blows by removing Abu Butt and Shahzad Hassan with successive deliveries in his opening over, and went on to take four for 25, while Shahid claimed three for 26, including a hat trick to dismiss Nadeem Butt, Akbar Saiyad and Babar Khan.
Only Nadeem Butt (18) and Zafar Ali (17) were able to handle the bowling with any confidence, and by the time the two Belgians had completed their spells Portugal were in desperate trouble on 52 for seven.
There was a little more resistance in the later stages of the innings, but only Intesab Medhi and last man Muhammad Shoaib were able to reach double figures as Portugal were bundled out for 91 in 17.1 overs, giving Belgium a 145-run margin of victory.
In the first match of the triangular play-off series for 9th to 11th places, Malta struck the first blow with a 39-run win over Cyprus in Mechelen, despite a fine all-round effort from Cypriot captain Mike Kyriacou.
The Maltese total of 158 for eight was built around an innings of 62 from Andrew Naudi, with Kyriacou taking three for 22.
Cyprus then collapsed to 49 for nine in their first ten overs, before Kyriacou led a fightback with an unbeaten 72, achieving the rare feat in a T20 match of carrying his bat throughout the innings. But it was not enough, and despite a record-breaking last-wicket stand of 71 with Georgios Papaonisiforou, he eventually ran out of partners with the total on 119.
Naudi took three for 23 for Malta, and Mike Caruana four for 16 to engineer the Cypriot collapse.