Today was the start of the eagerly awaited ICC World Twenty20 Europe Region Qualifiers in Holland when Spain and 17 other teams would vie for six places to proceed to the next stage. The ambitious tournament split the teams into three Groups of Six with Spain being placed in Group B alongside Belgium, Finland, Isle of Man and Italy and Jersey.
In the draw Spain were handed a tough start with a match up against Italy in Voorburg. The Italians were in World Division Four as recently as 2016 but without star names like Gareth Berg, Damian Crowley and Carl Sandri they had a new look to their squad.
Spain omitted Jamie Roper, Kieran Perman and Muhammad Asjed from their starting line up, and after winning the toss, unusually elected to field.
A steady start by the Italians was stunted with two wickets from Ravi Panchal to leave the opponents struggling at 30 for 2 in the sixth over. A strong third wicket partnership of 38 between Manpreet Singh and Miaolo seemed to be swinging favouritism back towards Italy until Munoz-Mills struck with a run out in the 11th over (the first of three run outs in the Italian innings).
At this point, the ICC and ESPNCric Info sites went down leaving Spanish supporters waiting impatiently for updates. With the continued delay in score updates Spain had to rely on frequent messages from the team manager Gary Crompton to keep them informed.
A steady stream of wickets in the latter part of the innings kept the Italian score in check and two wickets in the same over for Atif Mehmood ensured that Spain’s opponents finished their twenty overs on a modest 147 for 9. Mehmood finished with figures of four for 21 after going for nine in his first over.
Spain started their reply by taking five off the first over but by the third over had lost their first wicket with just 16 runs on the board. At the half way stage Spain were 50 for two off ten, compared to the 68 for 2 Italy had posted at the same stage. The Italians tournament experience then began to tell as they bowled economically to put Spain increasingly behind the required run rate.
Spain finally finished their innings on 115 for six to lose their opening game by 32 runs. Paul Hennessy top scored with 40. Spain are back in action tomorrow against Jersey, who will themselves play against Italy this afternoon. In the other group match played this morning Belgium beat the Isle of Man by three wickets with two balls to spare.
Voorburg Cricket Ground – Italy v Spain – August 29th 2018