Marage and Stagno star for Italy and Gibraltar
Two magnificent attacking innings provided the highlights of Tuesday afternoon's matches at Preston Nomads, as Italy and Gibraltar completed comfortable victories over Norway and Sweden respectively.
Italian left-hander Dinidu Marage blazed a century - only the second in the brief history of the European Division 1 Twenty20 championship - to enable his side to reach an imposing total of 205 for two against Norway.
He shared a fine opening stand of 79 with Andy Northcote (27), and then added 109 for the second wicket with Peter Petricola, eventually falling to a catch by Ehtesham ul-Haq off the bowling of Shahbaz Butt. His 107 came from 62 deliveries with 14 fours and two sixes.
Petricola's innings was even more punishing, as his undefeated 52 took only 29 balls and included five fours and two sixes.
Norway had no answer to this challenge, and when Gayashan Munasinghe claimed two wickets before there was a run on the board their task became even greater. Suhail Iftikhar resisted for a time with a 31-ball 27, and Shahbaz Butt again played a captain's innings with an undefeated 20, but they could only reach 109 for eight, Munasinghe returning towards the end to claim another wicket and finish with three for 22, while Carlo Sandri took two for 16.
Sweden did well to post 176 for six against Gibraltar, wicketkeeper-opener Sadat Sidiqi getting their innings going with an aggressive 70, made from 44 deliveries with eleven boundaries. Mohammad Azam made 21 and Wakil Jalili an unbeaten 24, while there were two wickets each for Iain Latin and Charles Harrison.
When Jalili and Serge Conein removed both openers by the time 19 runs were on the board it seemed as if Gibraltar might struggle, but then the game was turned around by a splendid, unbroken third-wicket partnership of 160 between Kayron Stagno and Kieron Ferrary.
Stagno's 54-ball 93 not out, with eight fours and six sixes, was as decisive as Marage's for Italy, and he was given great support by Ferrary, whose 63 came from 52 deliveries with seven boundaries. Together they took their side home with an over to spare, to register Gibraltar's first win of the competition.