NEW-look Scotland suffered a familiar old problem as they crashed to a heavy T20 defeat to Afghanistan in Sharjah last night.
The Saltires, with four recruits from county cricket making their official debuts, were looking to build on last summer’s short-game success against Bangladesh.
And it looked good when new-boys Neil Carter, Iain Wardlaw and Matt Machan shared all the wickets to fall as the Afghans posted a modest 132-7.
However, a miserable effort with the bat saw them fall 28 runs short.
The Saltires made a disastrous start when Calum MacLeod was run out in the first over. Carter had made just three when his debut was cut short as Scotland slumped to 12-2. Richie Berrington and Kyle Coetzer attempted to repair the damage, both striking a couple of boundaries. However, when they departed in the space of four balls, the Saltires were hopelessly adrift on 40-4 after half their overs.
With the run-rate rocketing, the pressure rose on the middle order, who had too much to do as the Afghan bowlers seized their chance. Only Machan emerged with any credit, the Sussex all-rounder top-scoring with 42no, including six boundaries.
Earlier, the Saltires made the perfect start when both Wardlaw and Carter claimed a wicket in their first over. Wardlaw made the breakthrough with the fourth delivery of the match when he had Nawroz Mangal caught by Machan for a duck.
Carter, struck for a boundary by Karim Sadiq, had his revenge with the next delivery when MacLeod caught a lofted shot to reduce the Afghans to 5-2.
But Afghanistan launched a quick counter-attack led by Mo Shahzad who hit Carter for three boundaries in one over. Asghar Stanikzai got in on the act when he bludgeoned a six off Gordon Drummond but the Scottish spinners refused to let their rivals dominate.
Machan, Majid Haq and Moneeb Iqbal all kept it tight but Shahzad did reach his fifty from just 39 balls with six fours and a six.
Stanikzai, though, was deceived when Carter returned to the attack to claim his second wicket.
Machan struck to bowl Gulbodin Naib and claimed the prize scalp of Shahzad for 55, thanks to Coetzer’s catch at mid-wicket.
The same pair accounted for Mohammed Nabi as Machan claimed the bowling honours with 3-23.
Scotland have the chance to square the two-match series today.