Belgium off the mark



Belgium won their first match of the week as Portugalís rapid decline continued since their winning peak against chief rivals Spain.
Even on the fast, if bumpy, Sporting Alfas pitch, a total of 212 will always give the team batting first a chance Partnerships of 40 and 53 for the second and third wickets gave Belgium the perfect start with Javed Iqbal the common denominator. He ended up top scorer with 44 from 74 balls, although he was well backed up by No 9 Amer Diwan-Ali who finished the innings in style with 34 from 31 with five boundaries.
Belgiumís only fault was failing to bat out the overs - the innings lasted only 46.4 overs - but Siddaharth Hazare and, at the end, Intesab Madhi were mainly responsible for that. Hazare finished his 10 overs spell with figures of four for 35 and Madhi took three of the last four wickets at a cost of just 19 runs in 8.4 overs.
Opening bowlers Shahid Muhammad and Diwan Alii reduced Portugal to 24 for three but then an excellent fourth wicket stand between captain Akbar Saiyad and Nadeem Butt took the score to 144 for before Muhammad returned to have Butt caught by his namesake Shererhyar for 87. He faced only 95 balls and hit eight fours and four sixes. When he bowled Saiyad for a rearguard 36, to pick up his fifth wicket at a cost of just 19 runs, Belgium were favourites.
Nadeem Khan and Shaival Mehta finished the job, to give Belgium victory by 16 runs and lift them off the bottom.