Kyle Coetzer stars as Scotland claim precious victory over Papua New Guinea

Kyle Coetzer was four runs short of a century. Picture: @ICC/Donald MacLeod
Kyle Coetzer was four runs short of a century. Picture: @ICC/Donald MacLeod
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Kyle Coetzer was just four runs short of a century in his hometown as Scotland claimed a three-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in Aberdeen yesterday.

Off and running, at the second attempt, in their pursuit of the points required to emerge from World Cup League 2 and to hunt down the precious bounty of an invite to cricket’s one-day showpiece in India in 2023.

After Thursday’s discomfiting defeat to Oman at Mannofield, this was a little more stirring with the home captain ably leading the charge towards PNG’s tally of 205/9 which was reached with seven balls to spare.

Something to take minds off this week’s collapse of the lucrative Euro T20 Slam tournament that has left players out of pocket and personally deflated. If there are lingering frustrations, they can be taken out in today’s rematch with the Omanese, who top the early table with two victories. And there can be heart taken from a positive ODI debut from Hamza Tahir with the 23-year-old from Paisley seizing four wickets for 37.

They were much-needed when Tony Urah’s 46 off 27 balls set a solid platform for the tourists who brushed off two early scalps for Michael Leask to patiently compile runs.

Although Matty Cross and George Munsey departed cheaply, the familiar partnership of Coetzer and Calum MacLeod calmed nerves in the reply. The old hands put on 91 in unison before the latter slogged high on 36 and then Coetzer, on 96, had his off-stump removed by Assad Vala. Richie Berrington added 22 with Craig Wallace and Leask shoring up the middle order. Ultimately, the bowlers proved just effective enough with the bat. Saffy Sharif’s value in Twenty20 cricket was transferred when he rifled a late six and then Mark Watt secured the triumph by launching a boundary through the covers as his side reached 207/7.

Every little helps. Scotland must finish in the top three in this seven-team league to stay on the pathway to the World Cup. More clear cut a process than before, it’s those survivors who advance into enlarged qualifier that will also incorporate five sides from the so-called Super League, incorporating the 12 full members and the Netherlands.

Only two vacancies will be up for grabs as the ICC continues to drag its heels over expanding beyond a pitiful ten participants at its global one-day showcase. Yet it is fundamentally more meritocratic than before with results from a scheduled of 36 ODIs rather than rankings determining who progresses and who misses out.

Scotland’s fate is thus in the hands of Shane Burger and his players. However, around the ICC’s boardroom table, Caledonian influence is under attack. It is understood that a bloc of African nations, seeking to exert their increased voting power, may seek to replace Cricket Scotland chair Tony Brian on the influential development committee.

Their agenda? To press for the available monies for the Associates to be shared more widely rather than skewed towards those up the high performance scale.