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Denmark, Italy one step from T20 World Cup 2024 as Europe qualification continues
Brussels, July 21 - Denmark and Italy moved one step closer to qualifying for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 by winning their matches in their respective sub-regional qualifying competitions.
Even before the 2022 tournament proper is held in Australia later this year, the qualification programme for the 2024 edition of the competition has begun, with Denmark and Italy winning their respective Sub-Regional competitions in contrasting styles.
Joining the pair at the European Qualifier next year will be the winner of the third Sub-Regional Qualifier in Finland, featuring ten teams from across the region. The T20 World Cup 2024 will be hosted by USA and West Indies.
Denmark comeback to win in Belgium
Belgium sent shockwaves through the first Sub-Regional Qualifier when they claimed an upset 12-run win over the Danes, though Freddie Klokker's men found their feet in the knockout stages, brushing aside Spain before and thumping final win over Portugal, according to a report on ICC's official website.
Star Danish all-rounder Nicolaj Laegsgaard was ever-present during the tournament, leading both the runs and wickets tally at the competition, adding nine wickets to an impressive 189-run campaign (SR 177, Average 37.80).
Taking 2/11 (4) in the final, Laegsgaard fell on the first ball in Denmark's chase to leave the door ajar for Portugal, only for Taranjit Bharaj (58 not out from 43 balls) and Hamid Shah (44 not out from 37 balls) to slam it shut.
After losing to Portugal in the semi-finals, Belgium edged Spain in a final-ball thriller to claim third.
Italy conquer all in Finland
Gareth Berg's side was largely untroubled in its successful Sub-Regional campaign, undefeated and comprehensive in their final victory over the Isle of Man.
Harry Manenti enjoyed his first assignment in national colours taking the wickets of the top three in the final, finishing with 3/14 (4) and holding Matthew Ansell's side to 101/8. In response, Marcus Campopiano's 35 not out (21) ensured there was no Manx comeback, with the Italians passing the 102-run target in the 11th over.
Finland finished third with a win over Cyprus, with Sweden defeating Romania to claim fifth. Croatia hung on in a three-wicket win over Serbia to claim seventh, with Turkey and Greece the only teams to go winless at the tournament.
Ten teams meet in Finland for the final spot in the regional Qualifier beginning on July 24, with Guernsey the favourite to prevail in Kerava.
Josh Butler's side will face Austria, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Slovenia, while the other group pits the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Norway and Switzerland together.
The table-toppers of each group will meet in the final, with the winner travelling to next year's continental Qualifier.
The ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 has been expanded to 20 teams, with the qualification stage moving from global qualifiers to qualifiers through the five regions.
The top two teams at the European Regional Final series alongside qualifiers from the East-Asia Pacific, Africa, Asia and Americas regions will earn a place at the 2024 tournament alongside 12 automatically-qualifying teams -- the two hosts USA and West Indies, the top eight teams at the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia later this year and the two best highest-ranked teams in Men's T20I Rankings as of November 2022.
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