Title set to go to the wire
THE battle for the European Division Three championships will go to the last day with three teams still in with a chance of winning the title.
The thrilling denouement was set up by Spainís four wickets victory over Israel, the only team to have won their first three games, and the Isle of Manís six wickets win against Malta.
The three teams each have six points so the winners of the final day game between Spain and Isle of Man are assured of finishing on eight points but they can be joined by Israel if they win their last match, against Portugal on the top pitch at La Manga. Run rate would then decide who goes forward to meet Croatia in the play-off game to determine who is promoted to Division Two in 2011.
The showdown between Spain and Israel, which the hosts had to win, took place on the bottom pitch at La Manga, where bar one exception teams have found runs hard to come by.
It was no different on Friday with Israel taking 47.4 overs to total 109 and Spain, albeit with more caution than they would have shown if they were chasing a higher total, needing 43 overs to make the runs, while losing six wickets.
Jimmy Morgan, not for the first time this week, was the backbone of the Spain innings, finishing 51 not out from 119 balls, which was almost three times more than any of his team-mates faced.
Issac Talkar took the first two wickets to leave Spain 18 for two but Morgan and Pedro Venue took the score to 58 before Israel captain Herchel Gutman claimed two wickets in an over to give his side hope.
It was Gutmanís superb throw, to run out Armaghan Khan which put some late pressure on Spain but even though Wasim Ur Rehman was a third wicket for Gutman, Morgan would not be moved and Spain claimed their second Associate scalp of the week, edging them closer to Associate status themselves.
Earlier, Tanveer Iqbal was their bowling hero, finishing with four for 23. He took the first three wickets to reduce Israel to 31 for three and when Khan had Yaniv Razporker caught by the captain, Mark Spencer next over Spain were in control.
Gabriel Schachat put up 94 balls of resistance, but runs never came easily and although he scored 28 only eight were in boundaries. Indeed, there were only three in the whole innings and Iqbal wrapped it up by bowling last man Eliezar Samson.
Five other bowlers each took a wicket with Khanís figures of one for eight from six overs and Farhat Mahmoodís one for 12 from his full quota of 10 showing the stranglehold the bowlers had over the batsmen.