It was all to play for on the final day of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Europe Final 2019 in Guernsey, with several teams still in with a chance of securing qualification. Germany started the day knowing that two convincing wins would mean ending on equal points with the so far unbeaten Jersey side, and qualification to the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier would therefore be decided on Net Run Rate.
In the first match Norway, having been sent in to bat, faced a tough challenge from the German pace attack of Isatullah Dawlatzai (3-27/4) and Craig Meschede (2-11/4). Losing wickets at regular intervals, the Norwegian middle order all reached double figures before succumbing to the German fielding side who capitalised on some adventurous shots and run out opportunities. Attempting to get their final score into the triple figures, the last Norwegian wicket fell with the score on 99 on the last ball of the innings. Wasting no time in the reply, Meschede (28 off 19 balls) continued his form with the bat, setting the tone for the German chase with his boundary hitting. The positive approach paid off when Michael Richardson (35* off 25 balls) steered his side to a convincing win in the 12th over, with contributions from Abdul-Sakoor Rahimzei (17 off 10 balls) and Harmanjot Singh (10* off 11 balls).
Over at KGV, Denmark faced tournament hosts Guernsey in a close match in the morning game. The decision to field first by Denmark seemed to pay off as the Guernsey batters struggled to score. The Denmark spin attack of Nicolaj Laegsgaard (2-14/4) and Bashir Shah (2-19/4) proved successful in containing the Guernsey batters. Gritty contributions from Lucas Barker (20 off 22 balls) and Oliver Newey (23* off 26 balls) combined with a late flurry of runs from Jordan Martel (13 off 6 balls) got the Guernsey side to a defendable 118 for 7 off their 20 overs.
Openers Laegsgaard (26 off 28 balls) and Hamid Shah (16 off 15 balls) set up the chase, but regular loss of wickets halted the Denmark innings in their pursuit of victory. A team bowling effort from Guernsey turned the screws on the Danish side, with economical contributions from Thomas Veillard (1-15/4) and Luke LeTissier (2-22/4). Holding his nerve in the final stages of the game, Player of the Match Will Peatfield (3-23/4) forced the Denmark batters to play some enterprising shots and contained the final score to 112 for 9 off 20, 6 runs short of the Guernsey total.
In the afternoon, Denmark made a strong comeback against Italy, choosing to bat first after winning the toss. Looking confident and composed with the bat, the Danish batters were targeting a big score as Zishan Shah (50 off 36 balls) Rizwan Mahmood (37 off 19 balls) found the boundary on many occasions. Striking back, Italy bowler Baljit Singh (4-20/4) halted the momentum somewhat, meaning that Denmark landed on 159 for 9 off their 20 overs.
Utilising their spin attack in the powerplay, Denmark was able to restrict the boundary hitting of the Italian batters. Laegsgaard (2-24/4) and Shah (2-24/4) bowled tidy spells up front and accounted for the dangerous Italian duo of Joy Perera (11 off 14 balls) and Nicholas Maiolo (25 off 20 balls). Jino Jojo (2-25/4) and Oliver Hald (3-18/3.3) struck later in the innings as Michael Ross (34 off 20) balls was forced to hit out in an attempt to catch up to the required run rate. Italy's innings ended with three balls left as the final wicket fell with the score on 128, giving Denmark a 30-run victory to secure a fourth-place finish in the event.
The stage was set for an exciting finale at College Field, with a top of the table clash between Germany and Jersey set to decide which team secured qualification the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier. Germany won the toss for the second time that day and once again chose to field. Jersey went into the day as firm favourites to win the event with a two-point lead and a healthy Net Run Rate advantage.
However, a big loss to Germany would have both teams level on points, and Net Run Rate could see them miss out on the crucial top spot. Nerves told early on as the Jersey innings got off to a horror start, with both openers departing inside the first three overs. The Jersey woes continued as they lost a flurry of wickets in the 7th and 8th over, including the important wickets of Ben Stevens (23 off 24 balls) and Jonty Jenner (15 off 15 balls). Finding themselves in trouble at 49 for 5, it was Ben Ward (58 off 38 balls) who combined with Anthony Hawkins-Kay (27 off 34 balls) for a vital unbeaten partnership of 85 to get the Jersey total to 134/5.
Both teams had their calculators at the ready in the innings break, trying to work out the speed in which Germany would need to chase down the total in order to overturn the Net Run Rate deficit. German openers Meschede (40 off 25 balls) and Richardson (13 off 10 balls) got the chase off to a flying start in the powerplay, before Richardson fell in the 5th over with the score on 44. A regular loss of wickets did not seem to slow the German batters down one bit, as one after the other plundered the Jersey attack for runs. Valuable contributions from Sahir Naqash (16 off 7 balls), Rishi Pillai (10* off 6 balls) and Isatullah Dawlatzai (24* off 10 balls) meant that Germany surpassed the Jersey total on the 2nd ball of the 15th over for the match win.
Tense moments followed, as both sides sought confirmation of the Net Run Rate calculations from the tournament officials. After signing off the scoresheets, Tournament Referee Wayne Noon delivered the news that Jersey had secured qualification by the narrowest of margins, just 0.05 NRR difference splitting the two sides.
Jersey will now progress to the T20 World Cup Qualifier, taking place in UAE across October and November. The 14-team event, including fellow European Associates Scotland and Netherlands, and Full Members Ireland and Zimbabwe, will decide which 6 teams shall progress to the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.