Czech climb, Belgium soar in Luxembourg T20I Trophy

Shahreyar Butt becomes his country's first T20I centurion as two key innings leaves Belgium only undefeated team

Belgium captain Shaheryar Butt

The Czech Republic bounced back from their day 1 defeat to Luxembourg in the morning game. Later, Belgium beat both teams in the afternoon games to top the table at the end of day 2 of the Luxembourg T20I Trophy

Match 1: Czech Republic (115/5) beat Luxembourg (112ao) by 5 wickets

Winning the toss, an unchanged Luxembourg opted to bat first, hoping to replicate their dominant win on day 1. However, it would be the Czechs who controlled the opening exchanges, with Honey Gori and Kyle Gilham bowling economical spells. The 50 partnership between James Barker and Scott Browne was raised in the 9th over. However, Kushalkumar Mendon would find 3 wickets in the 10th, dismissing both openers and the run out of captain Joost Mees.

The hosts would battle through the middle overs, but at the cost of regular wickets. 2 wickets to Czech captain Sudesh Wickramsakera and a third for Mendon left Luxembourg on 99/6 after 16 overs, with Tony Whiteman adding 16.

A 3-wicket over from Naveed Ahmed would subdue any hopes of Luxembourg accelerating at the death. The hosts would be bowled out for 112 in the 19th over.

Opening the batting, Gori smashed 4 fours and 2 sixes in a quick-fire 35 to give the visitors a clear upper hand. By the time he was dismissed by Pankaj Malav in the 5th over, the Czechs already had 40 runs on the board.

From there, the visitors were never under too much pressure. Despite an economical spell of 1/19 from Marcus Cope, the Czech kept the run rate in check. A late wobble that saw Arun Ashokan and Wickramsekera out in consecutive balls was steadied by Sumit Pokhriyal, Czech Republic winning with 7 balls to spare.

Match 2: Belgium (165/8) beat Luxembourg (128/8) by 37 runs

With the Luxembourg vs Czech ‘sub-series’ ending 1-1, all eyes turned to Belgium with 4 games to play. The newcomers won the toss and chose to bat, but got off to a poor start, losing both openers inside 4 overs. Mamoon Latif steadied the top order with 25, but he was out at the halfway mark. At 65/4 the hosts looked squarely on top.

However, Belgium captain Shahreyar Butt was merely biding his time. Once Sazzad Hosen was out in the 13th over, Butt and partner Saber Zahkil unleashed a barrage of boundaries to ramp up the run rate. Whilst Zakhil perished for 27 off 11, Butt batted the remainder of the innings to finish 81*, including 7 maximums. Belgium closed at 165/8 after 20 overs.

Luxembourg’s chase got off to a bad start when Browne was dismissed by Ashiqullah Said In the 2nd over. Said, an ECL champion with VOC Rotterdam, also saw off James Barker to leave the hosts 24/3.

Tony Whiteman, Saransh Kushretha and Reinhardt Heyns would offer middle order runs for the hosts, but not enough to keep up with an ever-increasing run rate. Khalid Ahmadi took 3/14 as Luxembourg fell 38 runs short of the target, Belgium claiming their first T20I win.

Match 3: Belgium (197/6) beat Czech Republic (151/8) by 46 runs

Buoyed by their earlier win, Belgium won the toss and batter first in the final match of the day. The early exchanges reflected those of the previous two games, with the bowlers on top.

Syed Jamil perished to Honey Gori second ball without scoring. Then, when Mamoon Latif and Muhammad Muneeb were out on consecutive balls, the score was 10/3. Belgium were under pressure.

Once again it fell to captain Butt to raise a total. Entering at 41/4 in the 9th over, Butt demolished the Czech attack, scoring 125* off 50 balls with 11 fours and 9 sixes. Butt became Belgium’s first T20I centurion, and finished the day with 206 runs unbeaten.

Despite the best efforts of the Czech batsmen, they were on the ropes from the first over. Sabawoon Davizi and captain Ed Knowles both fell for low scores to Said. Whilst Gori and Wickramsekera offered quick runs, the captain scoring 60 off 36, they couldn’t keep up with the run rate. Regular wickets saw the chase fall away, with Belgium claiming back to back wins.

Belgium top the table overnight with 2 wins, Luxembourg and Belgium have 1 each, with the hosts ahead on net run rate. Belgium know they need one win out of their final two fixtures to claim the trophy, whilst the oppositions bowlers might be wondering how to get Shahreyar Butt out.

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