Cricket: Scotland on brink of defeat in Abu Dhabi

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SCOTLAND are facing an ignominious Intercontinental Cup defeat after Afghanistan pressed home their first-innings advantage in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The Scots are likely to lose early today, on the third day of the scheduled four, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Had it not been for the efforts of the Kyle Coetzer and some poor fielding from Afghanistan, the game would already be over.

The sides will return today with Scotland still needing six runs to avoid an innings defeat and just one wicket standing.

Hopes had been high for the new-look side, especially with the addition of several recruits from the county game. However, the Scots have been punished for a series of batting failures in alien conditions.

Resuming on 175-4, a lead of 50, Afghanistan’s batsmen showed sufficient concentration and skill to increase their advantage to 150 runs.

Scotland then lost their first five wickets for 44 runs and the next four for 14. In between there was the one act of defiance as Coetzer and his Northants colleague David Murphy added 61 for the sixth wicket.

Scotland have been comprehensively outplayed throughout the match but Coetzer deserves credit for getting his head down to defy the Afghan bowlers in an accomplished knock of 57. He faced 124 deliveries and stroked a dozen boundaries while Murphy lent solid support with 23. However, when the latter was caught off a top edge by Mirwais Ashraf to give Dawlat Zadran a third wicket, the writing was on the wall. Rob Taylor was unable to repeat his stubborn tenure of the day before, edging the excellent Izatullah Dawlatzai to keeper Mo Shahzad for just four.

Coetzer’s resistance ended when he was bowled by Dawlatzai, who took his match tally to eleven wickets when he then 
removed Gordon Goudie with his next delivery.

The Saltires still required 31 runs just to make their rivals bat again and Gordon Drummond was dropped twice and Safyaan Sharif once as Afghanistan’s fielding let them down.

The pair, having added 25 runs, will attempt to stall the Afghans further this morning but the truth is that the game is already lost and Scotland’s chances of reaching a second consecutive I-Cup final are now hanging by a thread.

Earlier Josh Davey had been the pick of the Scottish bowlers, claiming 4-53 while Rahmat Shah finished unbeaten on 67no – the highest score of the match.