Belgium wobble after dismissing France for 135
Belgium’s seamer Charles Wright grabbed five for 24 as France collapsed to 135 all out at La Manga 2 on Wednesday, but the Belgians made heavy weather of their reply, slumping from 88 for one to 113 for seven, and eventually being carried over the winning line by some hard hitting from Abdul Rehman.
France were never comfortable against a lively Belgian seam attack, and looked vulnerable from the moment Waqas Shafiq trapped Ramesh Sithambaranathan in front in the third over of the day.
Then Wright removed captain Arun Ayyavooraju and Usman Khan with consecutive deliveries with the total on 29, and France were in serious trouble. Robin Murphy followed soon afterwards, and the French were unable to build a really substantial partnership to produce a much-needed recovery.
Williamdeep Singh showed solid resistance with a 61-ball 24, while Shahid Malik adopted a more aggressive approach, hitting 32 from just 37 deliveries, with three fours and two sixes, before Wright returned to have him caught behind by Ali Raza.
135 never looked like being remotely enough, and when Raza and Amir Iqbal got them off to a flying start it seemed as if Belgium might coast to the easiest of victories.
Spinners Singh and Ayyavooraju slammed the brakes on, however, and the dismissal of Nirvam Shah, who had joined Iqbal after the departure of Raza for 27, was the cue for a real wobble by the Belgian batsmen.
A combination of accurate slow bowling and some reckless strokeplay saw four wickets fall for the addition of just seven runs, and when Iqbal, having reached 51, with six fours and two sixes, was caught by Hugo Pinsent off the bowling of Zika Ali and the total was 106 for six, an extraordinary turnaround was suddenly on the cards.
Waqas Shafiq became Singh’s third victim, and now 23 were needed with only three wickets in hand. But Abdul Rehman was unfazed by the situation, and struck three sixes in a 15-ball knock of 23 not out, the last of them to finish the match.
Singh finished with three for 30 and Ayyavooraju with two for 16, but even their efforts were insufficient in view of their side’s indifferent batting performance.