A fine debut knock by Michael Jones went unrewarded yesterday as Scotland slumped to defeat against Ireland in Dubai.
Durham Academy youngster Jones hit 87 as his more experienced team-mates toiled against a testing Irish attack.
The Scots were dismissed for an under-par 219 before their old foes eased to a six-wicket victory, meaning Ireland have won six of the last seven ODIs between the sides.
Sent in to bat, Scotland were on the back foot when George Munsey, opening the batting in place of absent skipper Kyle Coetzer, was out for a duck.
But fellow opener Jones got the board ticking with some classy shots, although big partnerships eluded Scotland as a string of batsmen got out cheaply while Calum MacLeod (33) and Craig Wallace (34) failed to capitalise on promising starts.
Jones was eventually sixth out, bowled by Boyd Rankin, having faced 135 balls and stroked nine fours.
Fellow debutant Tom Sole attempted to hoist the tally to something more substantial with some lusty hitting in a 14-ball 20 but the Scottish total always looked light.
Hopes were briefly raised when Safyaan Sharif removed Will Porterfield for a duck in the first over but Andrew Balbirnie’s 67 from just 55 balls put Ireland firmly in charge.
Balbirnie was stumped by Wallace, giving a first international wicket to Sole who claimed another when Stuart Whittingham caught Paul Stirling.
Ireland refused to be derailed, though, and a run-a-ball half century from Niall O’Brien ended Scottish hopes.
Scotland coach Grant Bradburn admitted his side were punished for a slow start against a slick Irish unit.
He said: “We felt we got in some valuable game time today for all the players, including the new faces in our line-up.
“We didn’t quite have the positive intent we expect with the bat which, ultimately, resulted in us setting a total of 60-70 short of what we would have liked in the conditions.
“We found ourselves chasing the game from a sluggish start and we needed to bowl and field exceptionally well to win today.
“The bowling attack will all benefit from the game-time and we look forward to three more quality games here to help us find winning formulas before the World Cup Qualifiers.
“Michael Jones soaked up the experience of his first ODI for Scotland and will no doubt develop further on the back of posting an excellent score today. Tom Sole also made a solid start to his international career and will only kick on from his experiences so far.”
The sides meet again in the tri-nations series, also featuring hosts UAE, tomorrow.
Scotland’s World Cup qualifying rivals Afghanistan will play their inaugural Test against world No 1-ranked India in Bangalore from 14-18 June. India revealed last month that they would be the first Test opponents for Afghanistan, who along with Ireland have joined the International Cricket Council’s top table as full member nations.
The one-off Test could be an opportunity for 19-year-old leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan to pit his wits against the likes of India’s star batsmen Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Meanwhile, India captain Kohli has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee after an angry outburst in his side’s second Test with South Africa.
Kohli was unhappy with the state of the ball during South Africa’s second innings after it appeared to get wet and following a discussion with umpire Michael Gough, the Indian threw the ball down in an aggressive manner.
Kohli has now been sanctioned by the ICC after breaching “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” and as a result loses part of his match fee and also receives one demerit point.
Chasing 287 to win, India finished day four on 35 for three.