The newest project of European Cricket, the European Cricket Championship, has begun today in Cartama, Spain.
Unlike previous tournaments run by European Cricket pitting domestic clubs, the tournament features fifteen international outfits across the continent, with the five teams that make up Group A beginning the competition.
Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg kicked things off under the Spanish sun, and it was the Belgians who enjoyed bragging rights with two victories.
Taking on the home side in the early fixture, Belgium conceded 94 runs despite all five bowlers claiming a wicket, as Spanish skipper Chris Munoz-Mills compiled a clever 42 from 27 balls with seven boundaries.
Saber Zakhil was emphatic in the response, spanking 43 not out from 13 deliveries with six sixes, propelling Belgium to victory in the ninth over of the chase.
Game two of the day squeezed almost as much action as possible from 20 overs of action, with 246 runs and 19 wickets ending in a four-run victory for Sweden over Norway.
Azam Khalil only faced 12 balls in Sweden’s innings, though made the most of his stay, hitting five fours and three sixes to set up his team’s 125.
Khalil claimed 1/23 with the ball, though it was Abhiji Venkatesh that stole victory in the game’s dying embers, entrusted to bowl the final over and repaying the faith with the wicket of Hayatullah Niazi for Sweden to sneak home.
Belgium’s second victory was more emphatic, brushing aside Luxembourg by 83 runs thanks to a colossal 165/5 posted. Saber Zakhil (53 from 18 balls) and Omid Rahimi (22* from 7) provided the late-over fireworks to push their opposition out of the game, with Zakhil walking down and driving over the top multiple times with panache.
Spain opened their points account in their second game, defeating a Norwegian side to consign them to two defeats on the day.
The teams in Group A continue their round robin play before playoffs later in the week with Group B’s Austria, Romania, Portugal, Hungary and a Dutch XI leaping centre stage from Monday.
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