Italy and hosts Isle of Man confirmed their places in today's final of the European Under 17 Division 2 Championships with a fourth straight win on the last day of group games. At the other end of the tables, Gibraltar finished without a victory but Germany won their first game of the week with a thrilling last ball success against Spain.
When the bottom team in Group B lost three wickets in three overs at King William's College 1 it looked as if their pursuit of Spain's 146 all out would go out with a whimper. After their faltering middle, Germany had left themselves 47 to win from just six overs. It was Krishna Cholleti who upped the tempo in the 35th over when he hit his side's first boundary in 90 balls. Eight came off that over and there was the first hint of an exciting finish.
However, only five came off the next and when Sandeep Singh had Cholleti caught off the first ball of the 37th, Spain were firm favourites. But at the other end, Steven Richards was just warming up. The Germany captain hit three fours in the next three overs and intelligently keeping the strike at every opportunity got the target down to 12 off six balls.
Christian Hein took a single off the first ball of the last over and Richards then did the rest, with a two, four and two more off the fifth to level the scores. Having lost fewer wickets that would have been enough for Germany but just to make sure Richards hit the final delivery down the ground for the winning run.
Isle of Man booked their place in the final with a 96 runs victory over Austria at KWC 2 but they know they will need to improve if they are to prevent Italy taking the European Under 17 Division 2 title.
Four of the hosts' batsmen got into the 20s, but two of them were Robert Hester, at No 9, and Andrew Vels, one place lower. No-one got past 26 as they were restricted to 169 for five. The bowlers did their job, however, with Seb Aycock taking the big wicket of Austria captain Ciju Pathuppally, leg before for just 16 on his way to figures of three for 19 and Shaun Kelly was even more miserly with three for 14.
Italy were virtually guaranteed a place in the final before they met Hellas at St Johns but they made sure with another convincing victory.
Forced to bowl first, they were kept in the field for 38 overs before they dismissed the Greeks for 70 and they won the match in the 21st over by nine wickets. Roshandra Abewickrama finished 33 not out to steer his side to victory although they were also helped significantly by 17 extras.
Only one Hellas batsman reached double figures, Panajoti Niko, at No 9, making 18 from just 26 balls while Alamin Mia and Muhammad Adnan both took three wickets for the Italians who will start today's final as favourites to make it five wins out of five against the hosts.
Matthew Hunter produced the best bowling figures of the tournament but still ended up on the losing side as Gibraltar lost their last five wickets for four runs to give Belgium a 59 runs victory at Crosby.
Hunter took seven for 11 in three spells but Belgium scored 153 from the other 32 overs to post a total that proved to be well out of reach.
However, when Gibraltar reached 101 for five in the 29th over, in pursuit of a victory target of 165, it was the Belgians who were doing the worrying, but a stunning spell by Nofil Aziz hurried the game to a conclusion. In a spell of 18 balls he took five wickets.
But it was Hunter who stole the headlines. He took two wickets in three balls in his second over, repeated the feat in his first comeback over and when he returned to bowl the last two overs at his original end, Hunter took three more in seven balls. But it will be the battle for ninth place that he and Gibraltar will be involved in tomorrow, but at least it is back at Crosby.
For full details visit the official ICC Europe Under 17 Division 2 site.