|European Under 17 (Division 2) Championship: Isle of Man, July 2008|
Switzerland make a promising start, but Belgium go top
Debutants Switzerland made a promising start to their Group B campaign on Sunday, fighting all the way before going down to Gibraltar by two wickets in Bonn, while Belgium reinforced their claims to top spot with a thumping 213-run victory at JHQ1 in Moenchengladbach.
The start at JHQ was delayed by an hour and a quarter by persistent rain, but there was no reduction in overs, Belgium winning the toss and electing to bat.
Assisted by some maldirected bowling from the Greek attack, who contributed no fewer than 87 of the double-counting wides, the Belgians ran up a massive 299 for seven, with Mark Weighill top-scoring with 57 from 82 balls.
He shared in three vital partnerships: an opening stand of 59 with Shaival Mehta, a second-wicket partnership of 70 with Jamie Farmiloe (35), and then one of 77 with Akshat Sanghvi (36).
Sherul Mehta and Edward Still kept up the pressure on the wilting Greek bowlers in the closing stages, making sure that their side compiled by far the highest total of the tournament so far.
Hellas began their reply to this daunting score confidently enough, Stylianos Mihalas making 19 as his side reached 49 for one, but then Usman Chaudry engineered a startling collapse, taking four for 15 in five overs as the Greeks lost five wickets for the addition of just five runs.
The only real resistance came from the youngest player in the tournament, Ioannis Vassilas, who turned 13 on Saturday. Batting at five, he made 22 from 48 balls as wickets fell all round him, and he was last out with the total on 86.
Sebastian Shukla took two for 22 at the start of the Greek innings, and Weighill collected two for 8 towards the end.
The match in Bonn, reduced to 33 overs a side because of the rain, was as close as the game at JHQ1 was one-sided.
The Swiss made 130 for seven, Lee Fisk contributing a lively 30-ball 35 and putting on 57 for the fourth-wicket with opener Matt Hill, who made a steady 26.
Karan Sadhwani and Scott Chipolina each took two wickets for Gibraltar, Sadhani conceding just 10 runs from his seven overs.
Switzerland fought hard to defend this relatively small total, but they werenít helped by their own bout of wide-itis, giving away 60 of them in the space of 31.2 overs.
Only Sadhwani, indeed, of the Gibraltar batsmen reached double figures, wickets falling at regular intervals as the Swiss sought to maintain the pressure. The eighth wicket fell with 11 still needed, but Julian Freyone and Matt Hunter held their nerve and saw their side home.
David Kluster was the most successful of the Swiss bowlers with three for 25.
Belgiumís match with Spain in Bochum on Monday now seems likely to have a crucial influence on the placings in this group, while Switzerland will be looking to go one better than todayís effort when they meet Hellas at JHQ2.