Calum MacLeod yesterday stroked a patient half-century to guide Scotland to victory in the opening match of their two-game ODI series against Papua New Guinea.
In a low-scoring affair at the Dubai International Stadium, former Durham star MacLeod played the innings of the day as the Scots reached their modest target of 148 with six wickets and almost 12 overs to spare.
Despite the early loss of Matthew Cross, the Scots were put on course by skipper Kyle Coetzer whose breezy 29 included four boundaries and a maximum.
However, Coetzer’s departure, quickly followed by Richie Berrington and Con de Lange, left MacLeod, right, with the responsibility of steering his side to their target.
He rose brilliantly to the challenge, reaching his 50 with consecutive boundaries – two of only four in his innings – and stroked the winning runs to finish 60 not out from 92 balls, while George Munsey lent support with 17 not out.
Earlier the Scots made a dream start, claiming wickets in each of the first four overs to reduce PNG to 8-4.
Ali Evans was first to strike with the fourth ball of the match when he had Tony Ura caught behind by Cross before a run had been scored.
Safyaan Sharif then got in on the act when he induced a false shot from Legia Siaka and Berrington claimed the catch.
Scotland were firmly in charge when the pair each claimed a second wicket before Sharif’s third left PNG in tatters on 10-5.
However, a sixth-wicket stand frustrated the Scots as skipper Assad Vala and Kiplin Doriga dug in with a half- century stand.
Michael Leask made the breakthrough when he had Doriga caught by Lange for 34 while Vala went on to top-score with 40 before edging Evans to Cross.
PNG managed to add 34 for their last two wickets but Sharif’s 4-38 and Evans’ 3-23 had Coetzer’s men firmly in charge.
After his match-winning knock, MacLeod paid tribute to Scotland’s pace duo for setting up the victory.
He said: “We got off to a great start as Safyaan Sharif and Ali Evans set the tone at the start of their innings by taking early wickets.
“To have a PNG 10-5 really set the game up before our spinners came on and strangled the middle order to give the batters a low total to chase.
“It was really pleasing to start off an important tour with some valuable time in the middle and get the win.”
The sides meet again today at the same venue.