European Under-17 Division Two: Italy demonstrated that they had learned some important lessons from their opening-day defeat at the hands of Denmark when they beat the Isle of Man by 47 runs at Svanholm Park on Tuesday.
They owed their victory in large measure to a fine fourth-wicket partnership of 150 between Shenal Amarakoon and Saiful Anik, who came together with the total on a somewhat precarious 33 for three and batted for 34 overs to see their side through to a substantial total.
Put in to bat by Denmark on Monday, the Italians had found it difficult to pace their innings, and with Matthew Ansell and Nicholas White maintaining a reasonable line and length in the initial powerplay overs it seemed as if they might have the same problem here.
But Amarakoon and Saif gradually took command, and by the 30th over their partnership had begun to develop real momentum.
Amarakoon was the first to his half-century, made off 97 deliveries with four boundaries, and Saif followed suit three overs later, having faced just 85 balls and hit four fours. By that time the partnership had passed the hundred mark, and it extended to 150 before Amarakoon, on 74, finally skied a catch to Brendan Coleman at extra cover off the bowling of Andrew Vels.
Saif continued for a further two overs before he was run out by an accurate return from Manx skipper Rowan Bird, having made 73 from 103 deliveries, 23 fewer than it had taken Amarakoon.
Two more run-outs in the closing overs saw Italy finish on 210 for eight; remarkably Amarakoon and Saif were the only two batsmen to reach double figures. White was the most effective of the Manx bowlers with three for 31, while Vels and Sam Kebbell claimed a wicket apiece.
211 was a daunting target, even though the outfield was distinctly quicker than it had been on Monday, and the Manx top order found it a great deal more difficult than Italy had to get the ball away.
The Italian bowlers applied plenty of pressure, and the Manx laboured to create any kind of momentum. Vels took 46 balls to make 8, and his opening partner Adam McAuley was only a little quicker, reaching 16 from 58 deliveries.
The attack was backed up by some very good ground fielding, and although Jack Newbery and Bird were able to add 41 for the third wicket, it took them thirteen overs to do so, and the required rate was creeping up all the time.
The hundred was not posted until the 39th over, and by that time Newbery had been smartly run out by a throw from Saifur Rahaman. The Manx powerplay produced 27 runs, but the dismissal of Bird for 29, trapped in front by Zeeshan Faiz, meant that 99 were needed from the last ten overs with only six wickets in hand.
Coleman (18) and Kebbell (22) tried to bat more positively, taking advantage of some indifferent Italian catching, but Saif returned to pick up three more wickets and finish with four for 21 as the Manx reply finished 47 runs short.
It had been a very good comeback by Italy after their opening-day disappointment, and the Isle of Man will need to do the same on Wednesday if they are to upset the hosts and ensure that the championship is settled on net run rate.
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