Spain and Belgium open with wins
The newly reduced tournament structure in ICC Europe got underway this morning in La Manga, Spain, with Spain and Belgium recording wins to get their tournament campaigns off to a good start.
Spain were playing Greece, and chose to bat first after winning the toss. Their innings started quickly with the opening pair of Armaghan Khan and Tariq Ali putting on 38 in just 3.5 overs before Ali was out for 8.
They kept the run rate high throughout their innings, with Munib Ranjah and Nisar Ahmed putting on 61 for the fifth wicket in six overs before Ranjah was out for 60, scored from just 34 balls. Ahmed went on to score 39 before he was out.
Spain eventually scored 187-8 from their 20 overs, with Greek captain Anastasios Manousis the pick of the bowlers with 3-28.
The Greek reply started badly with Spyridon Goustis being trapped lbw by Tanveer Iqbal from the first ball of their innings. Spiridon Bogdos was dismissed with the score on 5 in the next over, before a third wicket partnership of 46 between Alexandros Souvlakis and Anastasios Manousis.
The dismissal of Souvlakis sparked a mini-collapse as the Greeks lost three wickets for three runs in seven overs, and the innings never really recovered from there.
Manousis scored 52 before he was out, putting on 42 for the sixth wicket with Spyridon Nikokavouras, but the run rate had slowed too much. Greece were restricted to 111-7 from their 20 overs, losing by 76 runs.
The other game of the morning saw Belgium - who played in Division One last year - take on Israel. Belgium were the pre-tournament favourites, but certainly weren't living up to that billing at the start of their innings.
Some tight bowling early on by the Israeli's saw them lose their fourth wicket in 10th over with the score on 48. That fourth wicket was new captain Brighton Watambwa, who made 8, doubling the highest score he made for Zimbabwe.
Jamie Farmiloe and Abdul Rehman got the innings back on track with a partnership of 43 for the fifth wicket. Rehman was the dominant batsman of the pair, smashing 32 from just 15 balls before he was out.
That partnership gave the rest of the batsman something of a platform to hit out, and they eventually made 168-8 from their 20 overs, Farmiloe top scoring with 39 before he was bowled by Eshkol Solomon.
Israel's reply saw them lose their first wicket in the first over as Shailesh Bangera was bowled by Brighton Watambwa. The ex Zimbabwean international finished with 2-19 from his four overs, also taking the wicket of Josh Evans for 36.
That 36 from Evans was the highest score of the Israeli innings as they failed to keep up with the required rate. They managed 129-9 from their 20 overs, losing by 39 runs.
Belgium now have an afternoon off, but the other teams will all be in action. Greece will play Israel, whilst Spain will play Finland in the latter team's first match of the tournament. Belgium will next be in action when they play Greece tomorrow afternoon.