Belgium's birthday boy blasts sensational century
Belgium made it two out of two by beating Austria at La Manga 1 on Thursday, but they owed their victory in great measure to a sensational innings from Abdul Rehman who, coming in at the fall of the sixth wicket, blasted an undefeated 102 from just 48 deliveries.
Rehman, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, smashed nine sixes and six fours in his onslaught, which enabled Belgium to plunder 120 runs from their last ten overs and 91 from the last five, reaching an imposing total of 265 for seven.
It was tough on the Austrian bowlers and fielders, visibly wilting in the La Manga heat, since they had again done well to put their opponents under pressure in the early stages. At 98 for four after 30 overs the Belgians seemed to be heading towards a total of around 200, but the match was transformed by Rehman’s magnificent innings.
Until then, the Belgian batsmen had been contained reasonably effectively by the spin of Daniel Stevenson and Lakmal Kasthuriarachchige and by Imran Asif, the latter pair claiming two wickets apiece, but they had no answer to Rehman’s controlled aggression.
Simon Newport was the next highest scorer for Belgium with 28, while Ali Raza contributed an attacking 24 at the top of the innings.
Austria had a nightmare start, losing three wickets by the time four runs were on the board. Amandeep Amandeep had the misfortune to be run out without facing a ball, and it was – inevitably – Rehman who had Satyam Subhash caught behind by Raza.
The Austrians fought back well through a fourth-wicket partnership of 59 between Imran Asif (43) and Babar Nadeem (20), but Shaival Mehta removed the latter and soon afterwards Rehman returned to dismiss Asif.
Mehta picked up two more to claim three for 19 in a seven-over spell, and at 80 for seven Austria were clearly doomed to a heavy defeat.
The lower order refused to give in, however, and with Ben Loader (26), Nandeep Soggi (23) and Satish Kaul (22) all showing good application – and Kaul taking a leaf out of Rehman’s book with two big sixes – they were able to get the total up to 158.
That still meant, though, that Belgium won by 107 runs, and they will take a big net run rate advantage into their final match against Gibraltar on Saturday.