Europe Qualifier C – Denmark advance despite Belgium scare

Denmark defeated Portugal, Spain Gibraltar and Hungary to advance to the European Finals of the 2024 T20 World Cup Qualifiers.

Denmark were victorious in the first subregional qualifier for the 2024 T20 World Cup. The Danes defeated Portugal by 9 wickets in the final to secure the sole qualification spot for the European finals.

Although qualification for the 2022 event in Australia is not yet complete, qualification for the 2024 T20 World Cup in the USA and Caribbean has already begun. The Europe Subregional Qualifier Group C featured eight European associate teams vying for one spot in the regional final.

Belgium played hosts to their first ICC event, in a tournament also featuring Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Gibraltar, Malta and Hungary. Two groups of four teams were followed by semi-finals and a final, as well as a full complement of placement matches.

In Group A, hosts Belgium and pre-tournament favourites Denmark both defeated Gibraltar and Hungary in the first two match days, securing their progress to the semi-finals. Belgium’s win over Hungary was not without drama, however. Chasing 121 to win, the hosts stumbled to 25/4 in the 5th over, before recovering to win by two wickets in the final over.

In the penultimate game of the group, Gibraltar got the better of Hungary to win by 4 wickets with 2 balls to spare. Gibraltar ended the group in 3rd place, with Hungary 4th.

With both already qualified, Belgium met Denmark to determine their seedings going into the semi-finals. Batting first, the hosts made a respectable 161/9 in 20 overs. Despite a solid 58 from Danish opener Hamid Shah, the Belgian bowlers took regular wickets to restrict Denmark to 149/9 in reply, earning a 12-run win and 1st place in their group.

In the other half of the draw, it was Spain who enjoyed the best of the action, sealing three wins out of three to top the group, with Portugal 2nd, and Malta defeating Israel to finish 3rd. The Spanish were comfortable victors in all three games, including bowling out their Iberian neighbours Portugal for 77 to secure top spot.

Between the end of the group stages and the playoffs, a major incident occured as three ICC officials were involved in a car accident. Although no-one was seriously hurt, the 5th place playoff semi-finals were cancelled as a result. Malta and Gibraltar, as 3rd places in their respective groups, advanced to the 5th place playoff, and Israel and Hungary played for 7th place.

Malta won the 5th place playoff, chasing Gibraltar’s 191 in only 16.3 overs, with Basil George making 93*. Israel claimed 7th ahead of Hungary after a 12-run win.

Belgium met Portugal in the first semi-final. Batting first, the hosts struggled against the Portuguese bowling, making only 113 all out. Syed Maisam Ali was the pick of the bowlers for Portugal with 4/23. In reply, the Portuguese were untroubled in reaching their target. 52* for Sharn Gomes saw Portugal into the final in an 8-wicket win.

In the second semi-final, Spain met Denmark. The Danes batted first, and raised 154/7 through Nicolaj Laegsgaard’s 45. The total proved to be beyond Spain’s reach, and a three-wicket haul for Hamid Shah gave Denmark a 41-run win.

Spain were then defeated by Belgium in the 3rd place playoff, in a tense game that went to the final ball. Needing three to win, Shaheryar Butt cleared the ropes to give the hosts the win.

The final was defined by a strong bowling performance from Denmark, who kept Portugal to only 110/9. Laegsgaard was instrumental for the Danes, taking 2/11 from 4 overs. Although Laegsgaard was then caught behind on the first ball of the chase, Denmark were untroubled thereafter. Hamid Shah and Taranjit Bharaj took the Danes home in a 9-wicket win, with nearly 7 overs to spare.

Denmark therefore advance to next year’s European finals, where they will face Germany, the winners of the other sub-regional groups, and Jersey, Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland if they do not achieve direct qualification to the 2024 World Cup.

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