Grant Bradburn, the Scotland coach, remains quietly optimistic that his team can rise to their biggest challenge yet to realise their dream of playing at next year’s World Cup.
Sunday’s defeat to old foes Ireland means the Scots must beat West Indies in Harare tomorrow to reach the ICC’s global showpiece in England and Wales.
Having gone through the tournament with three wins and a tie, the 25-run reverse was a painful wake-up call and a harsh reminder that the margin between success and failure in international sport is wafer thin.
The Scots were convinced that they had trapped Irish hero Andy Balbirnie lbw when he had made just one run but the umpire thought otherwise and Balbirnie went on to score 105 punishing runs.
Balbirnie was also the beneficiary of a missed run-out opportunity on a day when Scotland failed to reach the heights achieved in earlier matches and consequently suffered their eighth defeat in the last nine one-day internationals against their closest cricketing rivals.
Bradburn’s assessment was straight to the point as he said: “We just weren’t clinical enough all round against Ireland.
“The game is pretty simple. There are three facets to the game – bowling, batting and fielding – and if you do two out of the three well you’re in the game. If you do all three well you’ll win the game.
“I thought we were beaten in at least two of these facets.
“The game was there for the winning. We were unlucky in that we thought we had Balbirnie early and we had a run-out chance against him as well.
“These are the little fine lines that you’ve got to take and I think they were quite key in the total that they got.
“But it was still a good wicket and the opportunities were still there to win the game with the bat. I was really proud of the fight that was shown by the lower order but, at 94 for one, there was a platform there to take the game deep.”
Assuming those fine lines go in Scotland’s favour, Bradburn believes the goal of World Cup qualification remains attainable.
He added: “We would have taken a shootout with the West Indies before the tournament started. We set our mission back in Dubai before Christmas to win this thing and we’re now one game away from making the final.
“It’s not doom and gloom and we’re already preparing fully for the next challenge and making sure we have our plans right for the conditions we’re getting here.
“It has been quite tricky reading the wickets but we’re getting a handle on that and we have got some smart minds in the team.
“Wednesday’s game is another great opportunity for Cricket Scotland to take on another Full Member team – and traditionally a very good one – and to hit them with some real determination to complete our mission and that’s to win this tournament.”
Scotland came close to beating the Windies the last time the sides met in a one-day international in Dublin 11 years ago, Chris Gayle’s side scraping home with one ball to spare. Indeed, it was only Gayle’s unbeaten 85 that denied Scotland what would have been a famous first win over a Full Member.
Ominously for the Scots, Gayle is still a key member of the current West Indies outfit and getting the ferociously hard-hitting left-hander out cheaply will be crucial.
The Windies yesterday carved out a four-wicket win over Zimbabwe to go top of the Super Six table. However, they will still need to beat Scotland to be sure of clinching one of the two spots on offer at the World Cup.