Ahmed Steers Denmark To Tournament Victory
Danish opener Fazan Ahmed hit an unbeaten 85 on Wednesday to guide his team to a six-wicket victory over the Isle of Man and the European Under-17 Division 2 title.
The hosts completed their win with almost four overs to spare, but the Manxmen showed a significant improvement on their performance in their opening game, as Italy had done in beating them on Tuesday.
The Manx batsmen approached their task in a much more positive frame of mind after skipper Rowan Bird won the toss and elected to bat, and despite the early loss of Andrew Vels and Jack Newbery, opener Adam McAuley and Bird himself put on 57 in a valuable third-wicket partnership.
Bird was eventually the victim of a dreadful mid-pitch mix-up, as Newbery had before him, but McAuley continued in tandem with Sam Kebbell, who dominated a brisk 44-run partnership, making 32 of those runs from just 28 deliveries, with three fours and a six.
The Isle of Man had reached 136 for four by the 30-over point, and seemed set to post a total in excess of 200, but their innings lost momentum in the remaining twenty overs, with the Danish bowlers sticking to their task well in enervating heat.
Ahmed was the most economical of all, taking two for 17 from seven overs, and Mads Nyeng, who had bowled a useful initial spell, came back well to finish with one for 26 from ten. Lavanish Premachandran and Stig Hedevang also maintained the pressure on the Manx batsmen, who were unable to move up a gear as wickets began to fall.
McAuley was eighth out with the total on 181, of which he had made a solid 61 from 119 deliveries with a single boundary, but no-one else was able to make a significant contribution, and the innings closed on 188.
The Danes began their reply with a powerful onslaught on the Manx bowling, Mads Rasmussen belting 28 from the first fourteen balls he receiving and contributing a run-a-ball 46 to an opening stand of 70 with Ahmed from just 14.3 overs.
He was eventually caught behind by Matthew Ogden off the bowling of Nathan Knights, and Mati Malik followed soon afterwards, also caught by the keeper, this time off Sam Kebbell.
But Ahmed continued imperturbably at the other end, and although he lost Premachandran and Salim Mondozay to run-outs which gave the Isle of Man a glimmer of hope, the runs went on accumulating.
Possibly the defining moment came when Mads Henriksen was dropped at cover soon after arriving at the crease, and he made the most of his escape, ensuring that the Manx had no further success as he and Ahmed advanced steadily towards their target.
The opener reached his half-century almost immediately afterwards, and in hitting the winning boundary of the first ball of the 47th over he reached 85, the highest individual score of the tournament, made from 120 deliveries with six fours. His innings also earned him the Player of the Tournament award.
By winning both their matches Denmark made sure of the championship, and they will be the team to beat when the three countries meet again in a triangular Twenty20 tournament at the same venue on Thursday.
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