|European Division 2 Championship: Corfu (Greece), September 2012|
Spain claim third spot as Malta are relegated
Cyprus successfully avoided relegation to Division 3 in their crucial play-off match at the Marina ground on Saturday morning, but for their Maltese opponents the ten-wicket defeat meant that they would drop down to the lower division for the next tournament cycle.
Put in by Cypriot captain Michaelis Kyriacou, Malta reached 50 for one in the ninth over of their innings, thanks to a brisk start from Justin Brooke and a steady one from Nowell Khosla. Brooke hit three boundaries in his knock of 16 before he succumbed to a remarkable one-handed catch in the gully by Andrew Mulkern, while Khosla reached 26 before edging a Dineja Agathocleous delivery to keeper Nimal Durayalage.
But these were the only two Maltese batsmen to reach double figures as first Agathocleous, with five for 12, and then Muhammad Mohsin (four for 16) ran through the middle and lower order, with the side ultimately being dismissed for 84 in 18.1 overs.
Kyriacou and Mohsin then breezed to this target in just 11.2 overs, with Kyriacou initially the more aggressive but being overtaken by his partner in the closing overs. Kyriacou finished on 35 from 34 deliveries, while Mohsin made 58 from 35, 31 of them from the last eleven deliveries he faced, hitting eight fours and two sixes.
At Messonghi, Spain clinched third place with a 90-run victory over Israel, who were only able to field nine players because of injuries and religious observance.
In another powerful batting display the Spaniards ran up a total of 258 for eight, surpassing their previous best of 248 for six against Portugal. The runs came from Tariq Ali, who made 58 from 18 deliveries, with five fours and five sixes, sharing an opening stand of 78 with Armaghan Khan (29), from Pedro Venus Valiente (44 from 26), and from Nizar Ahmed, whose 19-ball 50 included two fours and six sixes.
Israeli wicketkeeper Shailesh Bangera discarded the gloves for this game and was the most successful of the bowlers with three for 32, while Herschel Gutman and Shifron Waskar picked up two apiece.
This total was always going to be beyond the depleted Israelis, but Josh Evans (52) and Bangera (64 not out) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 80 which lent respectability to their score, and the innings closed on 168 for four.
In the remaining play-off matches in the morning session, hosts Hellas made sure of fifth spot with a comfortable 46-run victory over Finland, and Luxembourg claimed ninth place by beating Croatia by 20 runs.
Nik Pothas registered his best score of the week with a 40-ball 68 against Finland, helping his side to a total of 169 for six. The Finns only lost three wickets in their reply, but accurate bowling by the Greeks, especially from paceman Dimitrios Triantafillidis (one for 16 from four overs) and left-arm spinner Mehmood Ahmad (one for 12), restricted them to just 123.
The Finnish batsmen all got a start, with Jonathan Scamans the top-scorer with 37 not out from 30 deliveries.
Luxembourg’s total of 136 all out owed much to an innings of 52 from 25 deliveries by Taral Desai, who shared a sixth-wicket stand of 59 with skipper Tony Whiteman (27). The early damage for Croatia was done by Michael Grzinić and Craig Sinovich, each of whom took two wickets as Luxembourg slumped to 35 for four, and then Paul Mušin (three for 31) and Vivek Sharma (two for 23) cleaned up the lower order.
Michael Grzinić was again Croatia’s main scorer with 49 from 43 balls, but the rest of the batsmen have struggled all week to make runs, and they finished on 116 for six.