Estonia make sure of promotion
Estonia made sure of their promotion to Division 2 of the European Twenty20 Championship by the end of the second day of the Division 3 tournament in Tallinn, beating Slovenia by 24 runs to complete the double over the closer of their rivals.
The Slovenians, having beaten Bulgaria in the early game on Friday, went into their rematch against the hosts knowing that they had to win to keep their hopes alive, but they suffered an immediate reverse when Estonian captain Tim Heath won the toss and elected to bat.
They were given some hope when Bradley Eve, again bowling well, trapped Nand Lal Riar in front with the total on 24, a reward for a tidy opening from Eve and his new-ball partner Nitesh Ujawe.
But Heath responded with another aggressive innings, hitting three sixes in a 14-ball 29, and sharing in a second wicket partnership of 61 from just 34 deliveries with Moshiur Rahman. Heath fell to a superb catch by Primož Pustoslemšek of the bowling of Domen Bohinc, who went on to remove both Rahman, bowled when he had made 43 from 48 deliveries, and Marko Vaik and finish with three for 31.
At 110 for three with five overs left the Estonians had looked set to post a really sizable target, but the Slovenian bowlers did well to restrict the scoring in the final overs, four wickets falling for 33 runs from those 30 balls.
Pustoslemšek’s four-over spell yielded only 16 runs with the wicket of Obili thrown in, and despite a 13-ball, unbeaten 18 from Sivalingham Arunachalam, Estonia had to be content with 143 for seven when their innings closed.
Mark Oman began with more aggression than usual when Slovenia replied, striking three boundaries in the first four overs, but once Lalantha Karunatilake was bowled by Obili with 24 on the board he became more circumspect, allowing Chris Bishop to take over the bulk of the scoring.
Bishop’s quick-fire 18 came from just seven deliveries with two fours and a six, but then he was unfortunately run out looking for a quick single, and the Slovenian scoring-rate began to slow. Tom Furness did his best to keep it going, but with the Estonians largely cutting out the boundaries Oman and Furness were largely restricted to singles, and their stand of 51 consumed 54 deliveries, so that when Oman was bowled by Riar for 49 Slovenia needed to score at twelve an over.
This was clearly beyond them, and although Pustoslemšek hit a breezy 8-ball 12, even that wasn’t enough, and Riar and Obili ran through the middle and lower order, finishing with four for 22 and three for 27 respectively as the Slovenian innings ended on 119 for nine.
The early game had followed a broadly similar pattern, although this time it was Slovenia who were able to defend a reasonably challenging total, and the Bulgarians whose challenge eventually fell well short.
Oman and Matthew Charlesworth were the architects of the Slovenian total of 153 for five, doubling the score with a third-wicket partnership of 55. Oman was bowled by Stuart Clarkson for 49, made from 45 balls with five fours and a six, while Charlesworth contributed a 33-ball 38, with four fours and a six.
Prakash Mishra was the most successful of the Bulgarian bowlers with two for 31.
Opener Danail Trenev led the Bulgarian response with 44 from 39 balls with five fours, but the innings faltered when he was caught behind by Rok Bohinc, the first of four victims in the innings for the Slovenian keeper and the first of three wickets for Primož Pustoslemšek at a cost of 22 runs.
The Bulgarians were never able to score at the rate they required, and they closed on 117 for nine, 36 runs short of the Slovenian score.