ABOUT THE MATCH
Spain and Portugal meet in a full T20 international for the first time, in the first match of the revived Iberia Cup. The 2019 tournament will take place at the La Manga Club, Murcia, and this match the first of the series takes place on October 25.
Spain starts the tournament as favorites, having made a big effort to produce a full and varied T20i calendar since Associate nations were bestowed with full T20i status. They most recently came from behind to beat Finland 2-1 in a three-game series.
Portugal, on the other hand, will be playing their first T20 internationals. They have not played any T20 cricket since the 2018 group stage of the European qualifier for the T20 World Cup. They won their final game their only win against Cyprus to ensure they did not finish bottom of their group.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS
La Manga will be sunny and dry on Friday for the start of the Iberia Cup. Temperatures are forecast to be around 21 degrees Celsius, with zero chance of rain.
While the form book at La Manga is hard to judge, given the very different levels of players to have used it in recent months, the general feeling is that good batsman can score big runs.
PROBABLE PLAYING XI OF Spain
Awais Ahmed (wk), Faran Afzal, Yasir Ali, Ravi Panchal, Kuldeep Lal, Christian Munoz-Mills (c), Paul Hennessy, Tauqeer Hussain, Raja Adeel, Atif Mehmood, Tom Vine
PROBABLE PLAYING XI OF Portugal
Tariq Aziz, Zohaib Sarwar, Arslan Ahmed, Imran Khan, Md Fakhrul Hussain, Paulo Buccimazza (c), Francoise Stoman (wk), Sukhwinder Singh, Assad Mehmood, Mian Mehmood, Najjam Shahzad
- One-time UAE paceman Raja Adeel, who played one first-class match for the United Arab Emirates, has been named in the Spain squad for the first time.
- Faisalabad veteran Tauqeer Hussain has been recalled, meanwhile, after missing the tour of Finland. Christian Munoz Mills again captains the team.
- Spain won the T20i Triangular Series they hosted at La Manga against Malta and an Estonian XI, which included Awais Ahmed’s century against the former, before coming from behind to beat Finland 2-1 in their first bilateral series.
- Ravi Panchal’s unbeaten 71 from 36 balls helped them chase 159 to win the decider by four wickets, with two balls to spare.
- Portugal’s 15-man squad only features five of the players who played in the win against Cyprus in the final game of the European Region group stage of the T20 World Cup qualifier in 2018.
- Paulo Buccimazza remains as captain, but new additions include wicket-keeper Francoise Stoman.
- Portugal’s entire XI, of course, will be making their T20i debuts.
- Portugal has not yet played a T20 international since it was announced all Associate Nations had been granted the status by the ICC.
- They last played in the group stage of the ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier, losing to Austria, Denmark, France, and Germany but then beating Cyprus in their final game to finish fifth out of six teams.
- Against Cypurs, Arslan Ahmed fell just short of a half-century as hit a match-winning 49 from 34 balls.
PROBABLE WINNING TEAM:
Spain is favorites to win this tournament, having made a strong start to life as a full T20i team against their fellow Associate’s nations.
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