Scotland put up a good fight against tenth-ranked Afghanistan in their first one-day international of the year falling an agonising two runs short in a seven-wicket defeat on the Duckworth-Lewis method after posting a competitive total of 325 driven by Calum MacLeod’s fine century.
Afghanistan were on course heading into the last ten overs with wickets in hand but, as cloud gathered, found themselves in a position where the D/L method had the game close. Asghar Afghan and Hashmatullah Shahidi did enough to keep their noses ahead as the rain came then started to pour to bring the game to a premature end after the fifth ball of the 45th over on 269-3
After Wednesday’s washout, it saw the Afghans take the two-match series in what was new Scotland’s new South African coach Shane Burger’s first match in charge. For MacLeod, it was back-to-back ODI centuries and a second successive total above 300 as, remarkably, this was the side’s first official 50-over outing since the historic win against England 11 months ago at the same venue. On that day, MacLeod blasted an incredible 140 not out but he was dismissed soon after reaching his eighth ODI century and Rahmat Shah’s 113 was key for the Afghans.
Burger will now prepare his men for the big two-match series against former world champions Sri Lanka, which starts next Saturday.
After a steady start, Scotland progressed to 76 before the first wicket when Matthew Cross was caught behind for 32 off Gulbadin Naib. Coetzer was going well and passed 2,000 runs and made his 13th ODI half century before finally having to depart for 79 when he was caught and bowled by Naib with the Scots at 152-2.
Scotland had passed 200 by the 39th over, during which new batsman Richie Berrington scored a maximum with a glorious ramp shot off quick Dawlat Zadran before following up with a slashing boundary to bring up the 50 partnership.
MacLeod crunched a thumping six to mid-off and then Berrington smacked a one bounce four to mid-on two balls later before perishing next one up as Naib recovered to clean bowl him and take his third wicket.
That brought the hard-hitting George Munsey in and after a few sighters he cut loose in the 42nd off the bowling of Naib with a run of 4-6-6-4 to start the over, the highlight being a steepling six that went over the wall into Arboretum Avenue and the second four bringing up the 250.
After Munsey had gone for an entertaining cameo of 28 off 13 balls, MacLeod reached that eighth ton in slightly hairy fashion as Hamid Hassan conjured a sniff of a caught and bowled chance but there was enough power on the stroke to get him through for the all-important single before he was caught on the square-leg boundary to keep his score on 100.
Craig Wallace’s well-struck straight drive for four brought up the 300 before he departed for a 14-ball 20. Bowlers Sharif and Tom Sole saw out the innings, with Sole caught on the boundary off the last ball.
Afghanistan began their reply briskly but there was a breakthrough when skipper Coetzer made a brilliant catch to dismiss Hazratullah Zazai with the score on 28. Mohammad Shahzad and Shah rebuilt to 121 before the second wicket fell, another superb catch doing the job, this time from Wallace to see Shahzad depart for 55. Shah was ticking things along nicely and reached his brilliant hundred with a single.
Sole finally got him for 113, Berrington taking a low catch, before the gloom set in.