Greens secure semi-final place with game to spare

GUERNSEY and Italy have set up a big clash of the unbeaten Group A teams today at the College Field.

While the Italians were inflicting a 10-wicket defeat on France on Saturday in much the same way the home side had overcome the French on the opening day of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Europe Division Two Qualifier, the Sarnians were seeing off Germany before lunch at the KGV, despite being posed a much stiffer test than they had been 24 hours earlier.

It was a test Ollie Clapham’s side passed with flying colours, thanks largely to some outstanding fielding to back up their strong bowling attack.

Guernsey held virtually every catch that came their way, no matter how difficult, and also pulled off a direct-hit run out to restrict Germany to a much lower total than had looked likely when they had reached 80 for 2 within the first 20 overs.

When it came to the home side’s turn to bat, Fintan Ridgwick and Charlie Birch broke the back of the chase with an opening stand of 111 with a half-century apiece that gave a good-sized crowd plenty to cheer before Harry Duke and Clapham saw them over the line with more than 28 overs to spare.

All in all, a good day’s work for the boys in green.

There was nothing to suggest that they would have it won by 2.45pm in the afternoon in the first 20 overs, though.

Although the first couple of boundaries of the match came via the edge of Pir Mohammed Gul’s bat in Charlie Forshaw’s opening over and the opener drove over the offside in the next bowled by Duke.

The openers put on 27 before Forshaw made the breakthrough with the first ball of his fourth over as Gul drove into Clapham’s hands in the covers.

It was not until the last ball of the 12th over that Guernsey struck again, this time debutant Harry Johnson taking the catch off Duke to dismiss Diyon Edirimanne, but the third-wicket pairing of Sebastian Carter and Jonathan Thorne had obvious quality and they played some nice strokes, mainly off the front foot, and got full value for them on the parched outfield. The number four, who had scored a half-century the previous day, also liked a dab down to third man to keep rotating the strike.

However, just when it was looking as if Guernsey could be chasing something in excess of 250, momentum swung somewhat fortuitously but the Greens made the most of it.

With the partnership having added 34, Carter’s eyes lit up when Harry Johnson dragged down a delivery outside the off-stump, but the batter could only toe a simple catch to Ridgwick at mid-wicket and that sparked a collapse that saw the final eight wickets of the innings fall for just 55.

A superbly-judged catch from Forshaw running to his left from mid-on saw Harry Johnson pick up his second wicket with Adhyay Datta going for a duck, then the spinners got in on the act with Dan Thomas taking two fine grabs at point to give Max Johnson and Clapham their first wickets.

Rahmatullah Yawari came in at the fall of the sixth wicket and flayed a couple of boundaries swinging from the hip, but the big scalp was that of Thorne and he played a lead role in his own downfall as he called for a risky single to mid-on from where Forshaw threw down the stumps with the top-scorer short of his ground.

Smiles all around after Marcus Thomas (centre) takes a stunning one-handed catch. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31118995)

Marcus Thomas soon pulled off the best catch of the innings, sticking out his left-hand at square leg to pluck a full-blooded pull shot from Yawari out of the air to audible gasps of wonderment form the crowd and then Birch was introduced to the attack and he wrapped up the innings with two wickets in his only over. The first saw Niall Perfect chop onto his own stumps and two balls later Sebastian Looker nicked off to a fine rising delivery.

There were very few alarms in the run chase, though Ridgwick was given an early lifeline when dropped at point in the third over.

He made the most of his luck to hit 10 fours in his 52 made at a run-a-ball, while Birch went through the gears impressively in his 59 from 52 balls including nine fours.

Perfect managed to remove both openers, but the winning post was in sight and Duke and Clapham took their side past it in the 22nd over.

In the other Group A match, France again struggled with the bat as Italy opening bowler Gupreet Singh took six wickets for just 13 runs before the batters reached their target inside seven overs.

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