SCOTLAND kept their World Cup qualification hopes alive with victory over Kenya at Mannofield yesterday.
However, they were pushed all the way by a combination of rain, tricky batting conditions and a dogged Kenya side.
Their innings, delayed on Tuesday evening, was interrupted for a second time before they eventually sealed a four-wicket triumph.
Chasing 184 for victory, they had reached 106-4 from 28.2 overs when the players were forced from the field.
After a lengthy delay, the Scots were told they needed a further 33 runs from 40 balls to secure victory and they got there with eight balls to spare.
Resuming on 22-0, Scotland survived for just three overs before the first wicket fell.
Freddie Coleman had nudged a few singles and edged a delivery from Nehemiah Odhiambo for a boundary to reach ten when a delivery from Nelson Odhiambo caught the inside edge of his bat and clattered into the stumps.
Kyle Coetzer and his new partner Matt Machan also looked less than comfortable on a wicket that was low and slow. The Scotland captain edged one that dropped just in front of first slip in Nelson’s next over as the Kenyans sought to cash-in.
It briefly became an exercise in survival for the Scottish batsmen during an awkward spell but Coetzer and Machan gradually got to grips with the conditions to get the board ticking over.
Scoring was never going to be easy as Coetzer discovered when two beautifully timed cover drives in the same over from Nehemiah only just reached the rope.
Machan had no such trouble when a straight drive off Nelson raced over the boundary.
The Sussex batsman, in prime touch following his century in the first match, looked in no mood to hang around, adding a second four off Hiren Varaiya.
It came as a surprise when the left-arm spinner got his revenge soon after, Machan chipping a simple catch to Rakep Patel at mid-off.
However, his 20 runs had contributed to a half-century partnership that put the Scots firmly on course at 84-2 especially with Coetzer moving smoothly through the gears.
Coetzer reached his fifth ODI half-century when he pushed a delivery from Varaiya into an inviting gap at mid-wicket.
The Northants batsman then drove Shem Ngoche over the top of mid-off for his sixth boundary.
However, when Kenya captain Collins Obuya replaced his left-arm spinners with pace it brought immediate reward and a reminder that the pitch still offered assistance to the bowlers.
Coetzer was on 57 from 80 deliveries and looking set for a match-winning score when Nehemiah took out his off stump with a ball that kept low.
The same bowler produced an almost identical delivery to remove Calum MacLeod for 11 and suddenly the Scots were wobbling on 106-4 as rain returned to interrupt the match for what proved to be the final time. MacLeod’s wicket, taken in poor light and steady rain, saw the D/L target rise from 88 to 98 but the Scots were still nine ahead and further play looked unlikely.
The umpires, though, deemed conditions fit for play 15 minutes before the scheduled cut off time and the new calculation appeared to bring Kenya back into contention, especially with two new batsmen at the crease.
Scotland suffered a further scare when Preston Mommsen went cheaply but Rob Taylor’s rapid 16 – including a straight six into the sightscreen – took them to the brink of glory and they got there with four wickets and eight balls to spare.
Later, Coetzer expressed his delight at yesterday’s Mannofield success. “I’m very happy with the outcome – it was absolutely vital that we won these two games and we have achieved that goal,” said the Scotland captain.
“It is always difficult when rain comes into it because you are never sure what scenario you are going to face.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to get back out there but the guys had to stay focused and they did that.”
Coetzer added: “I think it was a comfortable enough chase and we had put ourselves in that position by being positive earlier. In my opinion we controlled the game and deserved the win.”
However Robin Brown, the Kenya coach, believed the rain break worked against his team.
He said: “Scotland bowled well in the first innings but we fought back really well and I was convinced we were going to win the game.
“But the rain made batting easier and I don’t think we got the rub of the green over the piece.
“I think Scotland thought they would beat us more easily than they did and I can’t wait to face them again. We certainly don’t fear them.”