Israel are the European Division Three champions after a dramatic last day in Spain when the hosts collapsed to defeat.
A Spain victory over Isle of Man at Sporting Alfas would have given them the championship but, after bowling out the IOM for 211, they were dismissed for 111.
It could not have worked out any better for Israel. When they completed the first win of the day, needing just 17.5 overs to overhaul Portugal’s 112, it gave them a run rate of 1.11. So as long as Spain were not bowled out for less than 77 Israel knew only a home win could deprive them of the title. When the result came through from Alfas, the celebrations began in earnest on the top pitch at La Manga.
There was never much doubt that Israel, who started the day level on points with Spain and the Isle of Man but only in second place on run-rate to the hosts, would beat Portugal. They won the toss at the start of their perfect day and 8.4 overs later they had the Portuguese 23-4 with three wickets for Ramle paceman Eliezar Samson.
Portugal were bowled out in the 47th over with Samson finishing with figures of 4-33.
At this stage Israel thought they would have to score the runs fast, to have any chance of overhauling Spain and they duly lost a wicket in the first over.
Undaunted, Richard Aston hit 26 off 31 balls and captain Herschel Gutman, the former Belmont & Edgware all-rounder, maintained the momentum with 38 runs off 32 deliveries, including three fours and the only six of the game. Israel refused to panic, however and even with five wickets down and still 17 required, upping the run rate was still to the forefront and Yaniv Rasporker and Eshkol Solomon adding the necessary runs.
As news of the Isle of Man’s victory filtered in, Stanley Perlman, chairman of the Israel Cricket Association, said: “The manner in which the team played was unbelievable. Every player gave 200 per cent and every game there were new heroes. Each player played a part in this great victory.”
It is not quite Division Two cricket just yet for Israel, however. They must now beat Croatia in a promotion playoff to get out of the division.