Munsey and Brandon McMullen spent nearly four overs without a run thanks to Akbarjan’s mid-innings spell.
George Munsey established the Scottish T20I record with 132 off 61 balls to set up a 166-run thrashing of Austria in the ongoing T20 World Cup European Qualifier Final. This puts the hosts back on top of the list with two games remaining, thereby securing qualification for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
While Italy and Jersey kept their slender qualification chances alive with victories over Denmark and Jersey, the margin between the two unbeaten favorites, Ireland and Scotland, and the rest of the field now appears to be nearly insurmountable with two days remaining.
Munsey had to share the record with opening partner Oli Hairs for less than 24 hours after the latter had equaled it with a score of 127* against Italy and appeared determined to retake sole possession from the start of the morning encounter at Goldenacre. First up, a hesitant prod from Amit Nathwani resulted in an optimistic appeal for LBW, but it would be the last time Munsey was on the defensive for some time. It was followed by five consecutive reverse sweeps, three of which reached the rope, as Munsey put on a powerplay hitting clinic.
He scored 50 off 22 balls, matching Hairs’ speed against Italy the day before. Munsey dominated much of the strike and had already reached 69 off 30 when Hairs holed out to deep midwicket off Abdullah Akbarjan for a 12-ball 23. Munsey and Brandon McMullen spent nearly four overs without a run thanks to Akbarjan’s mid-innings spell. Nonetheless, after his second T20I century, Munsey began to let go again.
Umair Tariq was the victim of a Munsey onslaught, scoring 22 off the last four balls of the 14th over, including a big six into the nearby graveyard. He fell soon after reclaiming his record, missing another reverse sweep and being bowled in front for 132 by Akbarjan, who finished with eminently creditable figures of 2-22 in four overs, with no other bowler escaping with a single-digit economy rate or claiming a wicket as Richire Berrington came in at the death to run up the score with an unbeaten 19-ball 40 to take his side to 232-2.
The Austrian chase was doomed from the start, but Iqbal Hossain got off to a flying start, putting one boundary away through backward square off Sharif before succumbing two balls later as McMullen rushed in from deep square to grab a whirling top edge. Only Jaweed Sadran down the order would reach double figures as Austria were bowled out for 66. Michael Leask was the standout of the Scottish bowlers as Austria were knocked out for 66.
Italy vs. Denmark
Over at the Grange, Italy’s match against Denmark proved a more balanced contest, with the Danes restricting the Azzuri to 150-8 on a more typically batting-friendly Grange wicket, but the Danish batting once again failed to deliver, collapsing from 104-3 to 124 all out.
Surya Anand put Italy on the back foot with a double strike in the fifth over, removing Ben Manenti and Wayne Madsen in consecutive balls, and Laegsgaard struck again in his first over, catching Marcus Campopiano’s leading edge on the fourth ball of the eighth. However, he was once again oddly underutilized, bowling only two overs for 12 runs.
Number six Harry Manenti was able to drag the Italians back up to a defendable score, striking 51 off 35 to take them to the brink of 150 before being dismissed in bizarre fashion, miscuing a scoop into the ground before pausing to brush the ball away as it rolled toward the stumps. Meanwhile, Meade was down the track for a single as Munir argued for blocking the field, but Hashmi behind the stumps saw a less controversial way to a wicket. Manenti rushed to the non-striker’s end but was caught by Hashmi’s toss and ran out for 51.
Manenti’s efforts were rewarded with two wickets in the second over, as Laegsgaard failed to clear mid-off and Hashmi edged his second ball to slip. Stefano di Bartolomeo did it for Saif Ahmad with his first ball, a leading edge held at square leg, and the Danes trailed at 3-24. Singh and Thanikaithasan consolidated for the fourth wicket, with the Danish captain hitting Jaspreet Singh over midwicket for six and then sliding a single from the bottom edge to complete his fifty off 35 balls.
The stand was broken just as they appeared to have the chase under control by a needless runout when Singh attempted to sneak a second off a misfield, leaving Thanikaithasan alone. From there, the collapse was quick, with Lucky Ali caught down leg off Gareth Berg to start a three-wicket over, Aslam caught long off, and Singh picking out long off two balls later to end his side’s chances for 52 runs.
In the final over, Harry Manenti took Karimi’s off stump to conclude with 3-22 and give Italy a 26-run victory.
Jersey vs. Germany
The final match of the day saw Jersey defeat Germany for their second win of the tournament, all but confirming Scotland and Ireland’s progression. The islands posted their highest-ever T20I total, 190-5, thanks to Nick Greenwood’s undefeated 86 off 56 and Julius Sumerauer’s 4-22 in the German reply, which never came close on the goal.
Greenwood controlled a 36-run opening stand with Harrison Carlyon before finding a more fluid foil in Jonty Jenner, the pair taking Jersey to 112-1 before Jenner reverse-swept Josh van Heereden to point. Cameos from Charlie Brennan and Sumerauer in the lower order provided some energy, but while Jersey fell short of the 200-run barrier and Greenwood of a maiden century, the 191-run objective proved more than enough.
The Germans never came close to matching the asking rate after Eliot Miles’ first over, with the scoreboard pressure increasing as catches occurred and were (usually) held. Faisal Mubashir’s maiden T20I half-century from number five helped the score, but the outcome was never in doubt. Mubashir was unbeaten on 57 from 50 as Germany scraped to 139-8 as Jersey won by 51 runs.
As a result, Jersey, Germany, and Italy are all on four points, two behind Scotland and Ireland at the top of the table, both of whom have a significant net run rate advantage over the trailing pack. Following tomorrow’s rest day, Scotland will face Denmark and Ireland will face Germany, with wins for the two favorites making their last match against each other on Friday a joyous curtain call.
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