A CENTURY from Matt Machan and a devastating burst of pace bowling by Ali Evans carried Scotland to a remarkable 179-run win over Ireland in their World Cup warm-up match in Sydney yesterday.
Machan’s 103 helped hoist the Scottish tally to 296 for six before Evans’ four wickets sparked a collapse that saw their rivals subside to 117 all out under the floodlights at the Blacktown Oval.
Given that Ireland have dominated Associate cricket in recent times, there was understandable delight in the Scottish camp, though Machan suggested that sights are being set higher.
“We take inspiration from what Ireland have achieved in the last five to eight years,” said the 23-year-old Sussex batsman. “It’s nice to beat Associates but we want to challenge ourselves against the best Test nations – that’s when you really see where you are.”
There was little hint that Scotland would enjoy such a stroll when Will Porterfield and Paul Stirling carried the Irish to 57-0 at almost a run-a-ball.
However, the introduction into the attack of Evans brought immediate and spectacular returns. The Carlton fast bowler has endured his share of travails during a stop-start cap career and also had to recover from the disappointment of his release by Derbyshire 18 months ago. However, the 26 year-old is a resilient sort and is determined to make the most of the opportunity afforded by this World Cup.
He is certainly going about it the right way as he demonstrated in the space of nine devastating deliveries during which Ireland were reduced to 73 for four.
Stirling, dropped earlier by Hamish Gardiner, was safely held by Josh Davey off Evans’ fifth delivery.
In his next over, Evans struck twice, Gardiner atoning with the catch that removed Ed Joyce while three balls later Niall O’Brien edged to wicketkeeper Matthew Cross.
Evans took his figures to an astonishing four for three when he then had Porterfield caught by Richie Berrington with the first ball of his third over. The manner of Ireland’s capitulation was astonishing as wickets continued to tumble, the key one of Kevin O’Brien going to Davey while Majid Haq weighed in with three for nine as Scotland dismissed their rivals in just 27 overs.
Earlier, Machan’s century was the highlight of another impressive batting display following Scotland’s eight-wicket win against St George last week.
Calum MacLeod had been the three-figure hero of that success and the Durham batsman again looked in decent touch, though he had to endure the early departures of Kyle Coetzer and Gardiner – both to Max Sorensen.
MacLeod dominated a 44-run partnership with Machan, striking four boundaries in his 41, but he was unable to convert that promising start into a major contribution instead falling to the left-arm spin of George Dockrell.
Machan, though, had his eyes on the big score and found willing partners in Preston Mommsen and Berrington with whom he shared stands of 96 and 98 respectively to give the innings its substance.
Mommsen, playing only as a batsman following the knee injury that kept him out of the St George game, showed no signs of rustiness in moving easily to a half-century. The Carlton batsman stroked five boundaries as well as hoisting a short Dockrell delivery over the rope at deep mid-wicket.
Mommsen had made 56 when the return of Sorensen brought his downfall, an attempted cut gobbled-up by Stirling in the covers.
Having played himself in carefully, Machan moved through the gears with a series of punishing shots and his stand with Berrington gave the Scots a measure of control.
Reaching his half-century from 66 deliveries, Machan accelerated towards three figures, announcing his intentions with a six over deep mid-wicket.
Machan managed three more sixes in his century and was finally bowled by Craig Young for 103 from 108 balls.
Berrington, who memorably flayed the Irish bowling in a winning run-chase in Edinburgh three years ago, was a little less destructive this time but his 40-ball 52, which included the biggest six of the innings, propelled Scotland to 296 for six.
Machan added: “It’s always nice going into a big tournament to get a few runs under your belt. I had great support and the way Richie came in and changed the momentum of the innings was absolutely outstanding. We also bowled well in partnerships and our fielding was also brilliant.”
The Scots complete their preparations against West Indies tonight (11pm GMT) before heading to Dunedin for next week’s Pool A opener against New Zealand.