The mammoth qualifying pathway for the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup rolled into Finland today for European Sub-Regional qualifying group A.

Ten teams are involved with Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Isle of Man, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and Turkey all joining the hosts at the northernmost grounds to have hosted official international cricket.

Tournament favourites Italy got their campaign off to a flying start against Greece in a Group 1 game. Tight bowling, particularly from Crishan Kalugamage (3-11) kept Greece to just 67-6 from their 20 overs. Italy lost Justin Mosca for 3 early in their reply but were otherwise untroubled, racing to their target in 11.1 overs to win by 9 wickets.

The other Group 1 match saw the hosts take on neighbours Sweden in the afternoon session. Batting first they were bowled out for 115 with Liam Karlsson and Abhijit Venkatesh both taking four wickets. Venkatesh top scored with 35 in Sweden’s reply but there were no other contributions of note and Sweden were kept to 103-7 from their 20 overs, losing by 12 runs.

Over in Group 2, the Isle of Man started well, bowling Cyprus out for 120, Joseph Burrows taking 4-16. George Burrows then top scored in the Manx reply with an unbeaten 69 as his team completed an eight wicket win in 14.3 overs.

In the afternoon Group 2 match, Romania took on Turkey, a team they beat by 173 runs the last time they played. Batting first, Romania found themselves struggling on 43-4 but half-centuries by Sivakumar Periyalwar (50) and Vasu Saini (52) helped them recover to post 147-5. Turkey improved from the record low totals they put together in their last international venture and scored 96-8 in reply, losing by 51 runs.

Play continues tomorrow with the hosts playing Italy and Croatia - in their first match since 2013 - taking on Sweden in Group 1. In Group 2, Cyprus play Romania and Isle of Man play Serbia.