Scotland’s newest sporting darlings will return to The Grange today and look to add the scalp of Twenty20 kings Pakistan to the historic toppling of England in Sunday’s never-to-be-forgotten one-day international but will do so from one down in the two-match series after being brought back to earth with an emphatic 48-run defeat yesterday evening.
The tourists showed their class with bat and ball but, playing their first international in the quickfire format for nearly a year and a half, Scotland rekindled the spirit of Sunday in stages and can be proud of a competitive showing against the best in the business.
The Grange was bathed in sunshine again, though the crowd was a couple of thousand down from the 5,000 who witnessed history made against England.
Like Eoin Morgan on Sunday, Pakistan’s skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss but, having seen the 736-runs bonanza of 48 hours previously, had no hesitation in taking first advantage of what had shown itself to be an absolute road of a wicket.
After match-winning wicket taker Sanyaaf Sharif limited the opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Ahmed Shehzad to five runs in the first over, Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer turned immediately to spin as Mark Watt, one of the heroes of the England game with three key wickets, got back in the action and, while leaking the first boundary of the game as Zaman slashed for four, kept it down to seven.
Coetzer then threw the ball to 22-year-old debutant Hamza Tahir, the Ferguslie left-arm spinner from Paisley who is the cousin of Scotland’s all-time leading limited-overs wicket-taker Majid Haq. It was a bracing introduction for Tahir as he went for 19 in his first over.
Seamer Ali Evans was the man to make the breakthrough for Scotland in the fourth over but only after he had endured the frustration of seeing Zaman dropped by Michael Leask. He made the perfect response, though, as Shehzad, who had crossed to take strike, cut a short delivery to midwicket and was snaffled by Richie Berrington. Evans struck again in the sixth over as Zaman top edged and Matthew Cross took the catch. The Scots would have been happy with that start but those wickets brought Pakistan’s real strokemakers to the crease and the batting stepped up in intensity.
Hussain Talat was caught by Tahir as he paddled around the corner off the bowling of Berrington for 18 to have Pakistan 87-3 but that signalled the start of the onslaught.
Tahir ended up going for a costly 57 in his four overs as the former Pakistan Test captain Shoaib Malik and current skipper in all formats Sarfraz took a grip on proceedings.
Malik unleashed a scintillating 23-ball 50 which, remarkably, contained not a single four but five huge sixes. He only added three more, though, before failing to get fully hold of one from Evans and Leask made amends for his earlier fumble with a solid catch in the deep from the penultimate ball of the penultimate over.
Predictably, Sarfraz took on Sharif in the final over and went 4-4-6-4 off the last four balls which took his side past 200 and himself to a superb 89 off 49 balls.
As on Sunday, Scotland made a positive start to their innings as this time skipper Coetzer was joined by the big-hitting George Munsey, with Matthew Cross batting down at seven. Both openers had made half-centuries in the England game and the confidence showed as Munsey made a reverse sweep from Mohammad Nawaz for six in the first over.
Coetzer then took on Pakistan’s star bowler Mohammad Amir and scored back-to-back boundaries, first finding the rope with a classy off drive for four and then smashing the quick over his head for a huge six.
At 53 for no wicket after the first five overs, the Scots were ahead of the game but the momentum changed in the first ball of the sixth when Hasan Ali’s pace was too much for Munsey and he edged to Sarfraz. The runs began to slow up and Berrington was next to go for only three as his middle stump was removed by Shadab Khan. Coetzer’s entertaining innings of 31 off 18 balls ended as he went for a second six but was caught at long on by Asif Ali.
It was always going to be difficult for Calum MacLeod to live up to Sunday’s heroic 140 not out and, when he was trapped lbw by Shadab for 12, the match was beginning to drift away.
The second 50 took four more overs than the first as Scotland limped past 100 at the end of the 14th and were well behind the rate. Dylan Budge, who had made his ODI debut on Sunday, tried to get things moving on his international bow but, after smacking a couple of maximums, the 22-year-old Grange batsman misjudged one from Amir and was caught by Faheem Ashraf at long on.
With 80 needed from the final three overs the cause was long lost, but Cross and, in particular Leask, showed some crowd-pleasing defiance in the final knockings with some lovely clean hitting to take Scotland to 150. Cross went next ball, though, for 13 off Hasin as Malik took a routine catch at long on.
Scotland needed only the 53 off the final over but managed only the four as the match petered out.