SCOTLAND’s World Twenty20 qualification hopes hung by a thread last night after they lost to Ireland at the Dubai International Stadium.
The Saltires were unable to press home their advantage,, allowing their Celtic cousins to reach 159-5 after reducing them to 8-2. Despite the best efforts of stand-in skipper Kyle Coetzer and Fraser Watts, they then found themselves with too much to do following the loss of three early wickets.
The 17-run defeat leaves the Scots facing a must-win match today against an Italian side who are level on points but who enjoy a superior run-rate.
Pete Steindl, the coach, admitted: “Our discipline with ball in hand wasn’t what it should have been. For the majority of the game we were okay but we keep emphasising the small margins of T20 and we released the pressure too much.
“We gave Ireland too many big overs where they were able to score heavily and hurt us.
“We then got behind the run-rate early on and it’s very difficult to chase from longer out when you are playing catch-up.”
Chasing a formidable total in which Ed Joyce top-scored with 78no, the Saltires sought the usual solid start from Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod.
Instead, Berrington was bowled by Trent Johnston with just one run on the board while MacLeod was trapped in front by his former Warwickshire colleague Boyd Rankin.With Johnston also removing Preston Mommsen, Scotland were in deep trouble on 22-3. Coetzer and Watts steadied the ship before opening out in a flurry of boundaries, the pair adding 79 to briefly rekindle hopes.
Watts contributed a 29-ball 33 while Coetzer went on to record his highest international T20 score with 62. His 52-ball effort included four expansive sixes but both players fell to the medium-pace of Kevin O’Brien whose 3-35 put the Irish back in charge.
The Saltires received a double setback before play began when Gordon Goudie was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a rib injury, and skipper Gordon Drummond also failed to shake off a side strain.
Of today’s game against Italy and tomorrow’s with the USA, Steindl admitted: “They are both must-win games and it’s up to the guys to show the character required to come through.
“We are down to 12 fit players but that presents others with opportunities to take responsibility. That’s what they have to do.”