DEFIANT Saltires coach Pete Steindl last night insisted his side’s drubbings by Afghanistan are a disappointment rather than a disaster.
The Afghans yesterday took just six balls to clinch an innings victory in a one-sided I-Cup clash in Abu Dhabi. Skipper Gordon Drummond was the last man out, bowled for 16, as the Scots surrendered second place in the eight-team table. It completed a dire series of games in which a new-look Scotland side lost five times in three formats of the game to their Asian rivals.
However, Steindl, whose position has come under scrutiny along with that of Drummond, has called for calm evaluation and a sense of perspective rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the setbacks. He said: “The players are all disappointed, and so am I, but we have to retain a sense of perspective. We have lost to a very good Afghanistan side but we’re not giving up.
“The process of evaluation has begun already – we’ve been training today.”
Afghanistan got the desert series off to a flier with two comfortable T20 wins and then struck a major blow by winning both the 50-over World Cup qualifiers. The second of these matches saw a brilliant Kyle Coetzer hundred count for nothing as the fearless Afghans fought back to chase their victory target.
With the Saltires’ confidence at rock-bottom, they were rank outsiders going into the I-Cup clash, especially after they lost the toss and were forced to bat in tough conditions. However, there were no excuses from Steindl for his side’s collapse to 68 for nine or for a similar top order slump in the second innings. “The toss did make a difference, there is no doubt about that,” said the Australian. “But the harsh reality is that we were outplayed.
“I can’t really fault the bowlers, who were pretty disciplined. We kept their scoring rate to just over two an over so the effort was there. But you can’t afford to be five wickets down so early – and for it to happen twice put us in an impossible position.”
Scotland’s hopes of reaching a second consecutive I-Cup final appear to be over after yesterday’s defeat but they still have two chances of qualification for the 2015 World Cup. Victories in their last four matches – against Kenya and Ireland – may be enough to see them claim one of the two automatic places.
However, a second qualification tournament will take place later this year when the bottom six teams in the World Cricket League Division One will be joined by the top four from Division Two.