MATTHEW Cross smashed his highest T20 international score as Scotland cruised to victory over Ireland in Bready last night.
Chasing 147 to claim first blood in the three-match series, the Scots suffered an early setback when man-of-the-moment George Munsey departed for 12.
However, Cross strode to the crease to unleash a blistering array of shots that quickly put the issue beyond doubt.
He launched one enormous six over the ropes and raced to 60 from only 33 deliveries while Kyle Coetzer played second fiddle at the other end.
The former Aberdeenshire star also stroked ten boundaries in his match-winning innings only to be the first of Tyrone Kane’s three victims in one over as Scotland suffered a sudden wobble.
Kane’s first ball in international cricket was struck to the boundary by Cross but it proved to be his last as the next ball picked out a fielder in the deep.
Michael Leask was then bowled first ball before Coetzer followed two deliveries later, losing his off-stump to the debutant for 19.
However, the Scots demonstrated the depth of their batting as Richie Berrington and Craig Wallace came together in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 52 in just five overs to seal victory.
Forfarshire’s Wallace was unbeaten on 26 as he hit the winning runs with his fourth boundary while Clydesdale’s Berrington stroked one four fewer in his 24no.
Earlier Scotland struck in the first over when Safyaan Sharif bowled Stuart Poynter for six.
It set the tone for an innings when the visiting bowlers continued to claim wickets at regular intervals, denying their rivals the chance to build big partnerships.
Sharif got his second with a return catch to remove John Anderson while Andrew Poynter played across the line and was bowled by Michael Leask.
There was stubborn resistance from debutant David Rankin who hit a couple of lusty blows to the boundary.
Rankin’s brother Boyd may be better known as a fast bowler but the younger sibling demonstrated different skills when he hoisted a Josh Davey delivery over the rope for the first maximum of the match.
He had reached 34 when Leask was again rewarded for bowling straight.
Danger-man Kevin O’Brien briefly reclaimed the initiative with a hard-hitting 30 from just 19 deliveries with four boundaries and a six.
When he then miscued a Davey delivery to be caught by Evans, the Scots had Ireland in trouble on 104-5. However, the home side added 42 runs in the final four overs without losing a further wicket to hoist their tally to 146-5.
Skipper Preston Mommsen used just five bowlers with Leask the pick claiming 2-23.
The sides meet again today before the three-match series concludes on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in Dhaka, Mustafizur Rahman enjoyed a debut to remember as the left-arm seamer helped Bangladesh to only their fourth ever one-day international win over India. Mustafizur pretty much decimated India’s middle order with figures of five for 50 as the visitors folded for 228 in 46 overs.
There was a bizarre incident when opener Shikhar Dhawan (30) was given out mistakenly by the umpire over a dropped catch, followed by a run-out appeal as the batsman walked off.
Earlier, Bangladesh were 307 all out – their highest ODI score against India – after a blistering start from Soumya Sarkar (54) and Tamim Iqbal (60) and middle-order recovery by Shakib Al Hasan (52).
The 79-run win in the first of three games, continues Bangladesh’s purple patch in 2015, after they beat Pakistan 3-0 in April, while India endured a poor first game following their World Cup campaign.
India did bear a strong resemblance to the side that exited the World Cup in the semi-final, and their performance seemed to reflect that.