SCOTLAND’s tense three-run defeat to the West Indies may be seen as a missed opportunity to claim a big-name scalp but Grant Bradburn’s side will have a spring in their step as they enter the World Cup fray next week.
Their final warm-up game ended in disappointment in Sydney but the Scots served notice that they are ready to compete on cricket’s biggest stage.
After the dangerous Windies batting line-up posted 313 Scotland reached 310-9, with the final ball yielding just a single when a four or six would have tied or won the match.
It was still Scotland’s highest-ever score against a top nation in a 50-over match, although that statistic will not enter the record books since this was not an official one-day international.
Richie Berrington, whose brilliant 66 took his side to the brink of a famous victory, said: “We’ll take a lot of positives from how we played tonight.
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“Of course it’s frustrating that we came up just short because it was looking like we’d get over the line. That’s the disappointing bit but, when we look at our warm-up games overall, we know we’ve been playing some good cricket so there is a lot of confidence in the squad.”
The Scots twice let their rivals off the hook by first allowing the Windies to post 313-9 after reducing them to 59-3 and then losing their way in the run chase. Berrington appeared to be leading the victory charge with his big hitting but Scotland then failed to score the 14 runs they needed from the last two overs.
They had made a good start when Iain Wardlaw had Chris Gayle, that most explosive of limited overs batsmen, caught behind for just one after the Windies had elected to bat first.
Josh Davey and Ali Evans also claimed a wicket each as Scotland used the new ball to good effect. However, a fifth-wicket stand of 117 between Lendl Simmons and Denesh Ramdin allowed the Windies to claim the initiative.
Ramdin went on to top-score with 88, including six boundaries and one maximum, while Simmons had two big sixes in his rapid 55. There was also some punishing late hitting from Andre Russell and Darren Sammy, though the Scottish bowlers stuck to their task and Evans was rewarded with 3-61.
Undaunted by the big target, Scotland’s top order came out fighting as Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod put on 75 for the first wicket.
MacLeod, having stroked six boundaries, was first to go for 32 before a clatter of wickets saw the Scots fall off the pace.
Hamish Gardiner and Matt Machan went cheaply while Scotland had to do without skipper Preston Mommsen, who was forced to leave the Sydney Cricket Ground early to attend the official World Cup opening ceremony in Melbourne.
His replacement, Freddie Coleman, contributed a run-a-ball 34 but it was Coetzer’s 96 which kept Scotland in contention. The Northants batsman played a series of sparkling strokes on either side of the wicket and looked set to be the third centurion of the warm-up programme following on from MacLeod and Machan.
However, having reached 96 with 14 boundaries, the Aberdonian miscued a delivery from Nikita Miller and was caught in the deep by Russell.
Berrington and Matthew Cross took up the challenge with great gusto, the latter making a quick-fire 39 as the total came tantalisingly within reach.
Clydesdale’s Berrington looked capable of completing a remarkable run chase as he bludgeoned the bowling to all corners of the famous old Sydney venue. He hit six boundaries and one maximum in his 66 which came from just 44 balls, only to be run out in the penultimate over. Scotland needed 12 runs from nine deliveries when Berrington departed but Rob Taylor and Majid Haq both fell without scoring as the Scots came up just three runs short.
Scotland now fly to Dunedin for Monday’s Pool A opener against New Zealand (10pm GMT) and Berrington added: “All our focus is on that game now and, despite this defeat, we’re going into it with confidence.
“We’ve got five chances to beat a Full Member side and we’re determined to do that.”