Cricket: Scots wilt in face of Pakistan pressure

Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan. Picture: Getty
Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan. Picture: Getty
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SCOTLAND’s wait for a win against a cricketing superpower continues after Pakistan cruised to an easy 96-run win at a sunny Grange yesterday.

This was billed as the dawn of a new era as Kyle Coetzer took charge for the first time and a clutch of county stars made their home debuts. However, despite an encouraging display in the field, familiar old batting problems were in evidence as the Scots never seriously threatened to chase their rivals’ 231-7.

Their reply got off to the worst possible start when Neil Carter was bowled for a duck by Junaid Khan before a run had been scored.

However, Coetzer and Josh Davey rode out the storm blown up by Junaid and his new-ball partner, the giant Mohammed Irfan. The pair added 52 before Davey, having stroked two beautifully-timed boundaries and one streaky one, edged Ehsan Adil to be caught behind for 20.

There was a growing feeling that if Scotland were to mount a serious challenge they would need a special knock from Coetzer. He appeared set to oblige as he moved smoothly to 32 with three boundaries, the best of them a delightful cover drive off Irfan.

However, two balls after the drinks break, a casual flick allowed Kamran Akmal to take a leg-side catch off Mohammed Hafeez. When Matt Machan followed, playing on to Irfan, Scotland’s innings was in danger of disintegrating.

The procession was delayed by Moneeb Iqbal and Preston Mommsen, who survived together for eight overs. However, they managed to add just 17 runs during a period when the game drifted away from the Scots.

Iqbal’s uncomfortable 42-ball stay at the crease was ended by a run out following a mix-up with Mommsen. When Richie Berrington edged Saeed Ajmal to third man, it ended a spell of nine overs without a boundary but Scotland were also unable to rotate the strike as the Pakistani bowlers took charge.

Ajmal got his revenge as Berrington perished on the boundary, trying in vain to inject the urgency Scotland’s innings needed. Three lbws in as many balls – one for Ajmal and two for Junaid – hastened the end before Ajmal put Scotland out of their misery to end with 3-25.

Earlier, Coetzer used just five bowlers who all displayed commendable discipline, while Pakistan were indebted to their captain Misbah-ul-Haq for making a competitive total.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Misbah would have been content to see openers Imran Farhat and Nasir Jamshed put on 50 inside 12 overs. Farhat, having hit Carter over cover for a boundary in the first over, continued to lead the way, while Jamshed got in on the act by hooking the same bowler to the square leg boundary.

However, Jamshed was first to go when he mis-timed a drive off Rob Taylor and Mommsen took a simple catch at mid-on. The exciting Mohammed Hafeez hinted at his talents with an exquisitely-timed extra cover drive off Taylor, but made history for the wrong reason as far as Pakistani supporters were concerned, when he gave Majid Haq his record-breaking wicket.

Haq went into this match needing one wicket to surpass John Blain’s ODI mark of 41 victims and won his personal duel with Hafeez. The Pakistani batsman looked to be claiming the initiative when he clouted Haq over long-off for his second boundary. However, the wily spinner held the next delivery back and Hafeez succeeded only in guiding it into the hands of Davey at backward point.

The wicket sparked a period of dominance from the Scots, which saw Haq claim a further two wickets and Matt Machan one as the visitors slumped to 115-5. Carter’s second spell yielded the wicket of the dangerous Akmal, trapped in front, before Saeed Ajmal helped his skipper add 51 for the seventh wicket with a run-a-ball 28. Ajmal fell to a Wardlaw full toss, attempting an ambitious scoop shot, before Misbah took centre stage during the closing overs.

The Pakistan captain took 61 balls to reach his 50 with just one boundary, but opened out to spoil Haq’s excellent figures with a big six over cow corner. Carter suffered worse treatment in his final over as Misbah bludgeoned two maximums. Scotland could be content to have restricted their rivals to 231-7, but they will need to bat with greater resolve to have any chance in tomorrow’s return match.

‘We blew golden chance’

Majid Haq last night said Scotland had blown a golden chance to upset Pakistan.

The Clydesdale spin bowler entered the record books as Scotland’s leading ODI wicket-taker as the Scots restricted their big-name rivals to 231-7 at the Grange, Edinburgh.

However, Scotland then collapsed from 50-1 to 135 all out as their search for an elusive first win against a major Test-playing nation continued. Haq said: “I’m proud of the record but, to be honest, the result is far more important. That is the best chance we’ve had in my time playing for Scotland to beat one of the top sides in the world and we’ve blown it. To restrict Pakistan to 231 with their class batsman on a fast-scoring ground was an unbelievable effort and the guys deserve great credit for that. But the second half was very disappointing. We got a decent start from Kyle [Coetzer] and Josh [Davey] but kept losing wickets. In the end, we lost by a huge margin. It was a massive collapse.”

Haq was at a loss to explain Scotland’s dismal batting performance, but pointed to a lack of belief.

He said: “If Ireland had restricted Pakistan to 231, they would have gone out there expecting to win.

“That is probably because they had done it before and know how to convert winning positions.”

The sides meet again tomorrow and Haq added: “Hopefully, we can find the belief we need on Sunday. The guys are capable and we have to put it all together when it matters.”