Austria have come out on top after a highly competitive Central European Cup.
The Austrians saw off strong performances from both Luxembourg and hosts Czech Republic. Austria’s three wins saw them top the table ahead of Luxembourg (two wins) and the hosts (one win).
Friday saw Luxembourg play a double header against Czech Republic and then Austria. The morning game was the Czechs’ first T20I on home soil, and the won the toss, electing to bowl first. Tim Barker lead the way for Luxembourg with a 42-ball 60, but none of the other batters got going. Luxembourg were kept to 126/5, with Paul Taylor (4-0-19-2) the pick of the Czech bowlers.
The Czech batters made light work of the chase, with a 33-ball 57 from Sabawoon Davizi setting the platform as the hosts won by 9 wickets with 10 balls to spare.
Luxembourg also batted first in the afternoon game against Austria. Once again, Tim Barker was top scorer with 35, as the batters racked up an improved 143/5. The Austrians got themselves to 48/0 in reply. They were then pegged back by three quick wickets, two of which were clean bowled by Vikram Vijh. Rain saw the players come off at the fall of the 3rd wicket, and play would not resume. Austria were 59/3 after 7.3 overs, 6 ahead of the DLS par score, and so claimed the 2nd game.
Austria and Czech Republic went head-to-head on Saturday morning. Czech Republic won the toss and chose to chase. Austria were able to raise an impressive 163, thanks to Mirza Ashan’s 22-ball 52*. The Czech reply got off to the worst possible start, with Davizi removed first ball of the innings. Four further wickets in the next 6 overs would see the Czechs slide to 24/5. The innings never recovered, with the hosts 84 all out and Austria winning by 79 runs to move into the ascendency.
The afternoon game saw the hosts take on Luxembourg. Batting first, the Czech’s came past their morning woes to post 161/7, lead by 48 from Davizi and 45* from Kushalkumar Mendon.
The total would prove to be insufficient, as a resurgent Luxembourg fought back from their two defeats on Friday to chase the target with 8 balls to spare. Barker was again topscorer for Luxembourg with 47, but contributions from captain Joost Mees (38) and Tony Whiteman (37*) saw the visitors to their first win of the tournament.
Austria went into their Sunday double header knowing a win in either game would be enough to win the Central European Cup trophy.
Starting against Luxembourg in the morning game, Austria were able to set an imposing 179/5 in their 20 overs. Mark Simpson-Parker made 60, whilst Razmal Shigiwal made 70 from 49 balls. It might have been more had it not been for two strikes by Vikram Vijh at the death of the innings to remove the set batters.
Luxembourg were not put off by the target, and made steady progress throughout the chase. Once again, the runs were shared around, with captain Mees leading the way with 42. A late flurry from James Barker (36* from 23) was enough to see Luxembourg to a 5 wicket win, and leave the tournament in the balance.
Because of their inferior net run rate, Czech Republic would need to win by roughly 80-runs to clinch the tournament, whereas Austria needed a win or a narrow defeat to take the title. The Czechs batted first, with Davizi making 57 for the 2nd time in the tournament to get the hosts into a strong position. However, the innings was stopped for rain after 17 overs, with the score 156/4.
The interruption took six overs off the game, so Austria were set a revised target of 159 from 17 overs. Despite an early loss of wicket, Simpson-Parker and Shigiwal (35 off 19) combined again to put Austria in a winning position. Simpson-Parker would carry his bat for 65*, to see Austria home with 4 balls to spare.
With three wins, Austria won the trophy, ahead of Luxembourg and then Czech Republic. Tim Barker (158) and Mark Simpson-Parker (160) went close, but Sabawoon Davizi went home with the honour of most runs (162). Vikram Vijh (6 wickets at 18) and Paul Taylor (6 wickets at 18.8) topped the bowling charts. It wraps up an entertaining and competitive Central European Cup, played with T20I status for the first time.
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