Promoted Belgium open with a win
A four and a six from Belgian number nine Reyhan Faiz completed a three wicket win over Gibraltar on the opening day of ICC Europe Division Two at Chelmsford.
Belgium needed 13 runs from the final two overs and looked set after two boundaries in the 19th. Balaji Avinash Pai bowled Shahid Muhammad with the first delivery of the last to raise Gibraltan hopes. However, after capitalising on a loose delivery to hit his first ball for four Faiz launched the third ball of the over down the ground to seal the chase.
The Belgian innings got off to a steady start, the first two wickets putting on 33 apiece. Syed Jamil made most of the running at this stage, playing sensibly to ensure that his side were 48-1 at the end of the powerplay.
The tenth over looked to be a turning point for Gibraltar with Iain Latin deflecting the ball on to the stumps to run out Jamie Farmiloe at the non-striker's end before having Jamil caught to the very next ball for 43.
The dangerous Abdul Rehman was then sent back, superbly caught by Kieron Ferrary on the boundary for only 7 and with their opponents at 86-5 Gibraltar would have felt confident.
They still had to contend with Shahab Ud Din, however, and the Belgian number six was in no mood to let the game drift away. He took advantage of a few loose deliveries from the spinners and, after being given a life when he was caught off a no ball, saw his team home with 42 from 31.
Gibraltar looked good for more than the 148 that they ultimately posted until Belgium pulled things back with a tight final four overs that went for only 19.
Openers Kieron Ferrary and Avinash Pai got things off to a strong start by comfortably seeing off ex-Zimbabwe international Brighton Matambwa's opening burst. Whilst Pai settled into the anchor role Ferrary went for his shots, making 22 from 19 balls before being caught behind.
A badly judged second run resulted in the dismissal of Richard Colyer soon after but Gibraltar recovered from that set-back with number four Mark Bacarese attacking from the off. 28 year-old Bacarese hit six boundaries, including two leg-side sixes, in a 30-ball 45.
After the fall of Pai for 28 Kayron Stagno, the strongly built youngster who smashed 94 not out against Sweden in Sussex last year, got straight into hitting mode. He smashed one delivery from Faisal Khaliq into the commentary box windows at the Hayes Close End but was soon bowled for 17 off 10.
Matambwa returned at the death and after removing Bacarese also took the wicket of Daniel Coram as Gibraltar's lower middle order failed to finish the innings in style.
This was an evenly contested game and so despite the loss Gibraltar will not feel that they are out of the chase for a Division One berth yet. Belgium can feel satisfied that they have won despite their both Watambwa and Rehman failing with the bat, and despite a fielding display that was sloppy at times.