With the cricketing worlds attention turned to Nassau County for the big India v Pakistan game in the 2024 Men's T20 World Cup, qualifying for the 2026 tournament began in Rome, where ten teams are competing for one place in next year's European final.

The teams are divided into two groups. Group A consists of hosts Italy along with France, Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey, whilst Group B will feature Austria, Hungary, Israel, Portugal and Romania.

Italy's campaign started well this morning against Luxembourg. Their top score of 58 came from former Australian Test player Joe Burns, elgible due to his grandparents on his mother's side both having moved to Australia from Italy. Their total of 166-7 proved to be too much for Luxembourg who could only manage 89-9 in reply, Gareth Berg taking 3-16.

Portugal were put into bat by Hungary in the other morning session match and scored 147-9 from their 20 overs. Jalpesh Vijay top scored with 42 whilst Sheikh Rasik was the pick of the Hungarian bowlers with 3-25. Hungary batted out their overs in reply, with Vinoth Ravindran contributing 57, but they fell short on 132-5 and lost by 15 runs.

In the afternoon session, France were put into bat by Isle of Man captain Oliver Webster and scored 149-8 with Gus Mckeon's 34 their top score. Webster was the pick of the Manx bowlers with 3-33. The Manxmen batted out their overs in reply but fell just short on 133-6 and lost by 16 runs.

In the other afternoon match, Austria chose to bat first after winning the toss against Romania and were bowled out for 169, with much of those runs coming from Karanbir Singh who scored 97 from 57 balls. That wasn't enough though as Romania chased down their target with four balls to spare to win by three wickets. Vasu Saini top scored with 64.

The tournament continues tomorrow. In Group A, Turkey will play their first game of the tournament in the morning against Isle of Man and Italy play France in the afternoon. In Group B action Israel face off against Austria in the morning and Portugal come up against Romania in the afternoon.