World's best in wait as Scotland prepare to prove their Super 12 status in T20 World Cup

Scotland batter Calum MacLeod is looking forward to the opportunity of potentially facing the best T20 bowler in the world - Rashid Khan - when Shane Burger’s men come up against Afghanistan in their first Super 12s match at the World Cup today.

Scotland are in amongst cricket's big names and start their Super 12 campaign against Afghanistan (Photo by HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP via Getty Images)
Scotland are in amongst cricket's big names and start their Super 12 campaign against Afghanistan (Photo by HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP via Getty Images)

MacLeod, his team-mates and the Scottish support staff have relocated from Oman to the UAE in recent days ahead of five matches in Group Two against some of the best sides around.

The mouth-watering trio of clashes against New Zealand, India and Pakistan come next week while the Scots take on fellow qualifiers Namibia on Wednesday, but for now their only focus is taking on eighth in the world Afghanistan in Sharjah (3pm UK time).

And 32-year-old MacLeod, who is likely to come in at number five in the Scottish batting line-up, is excited about potentially facing Khan who already has 95 international wickets to his name in just 51 outings in this format of the game.

Calum McLeod of Scotland (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Khan, the 23-year-old spinner, stepped down as captain of Afghanistan last month after claiming he was not consulted by the selectors while they were finalising the squad, but he will still be a key man for them.

“It will be a challenge against him, indeed it will be a challenge against all of their spinners,” MacLeod, who is now third on Scotland’s all-time caps list with 205, said.

“Everyone understands the bowling attack Afghanistan have got with three world class spinners [Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and skipper Mohammad Nabi].

“As a batter you have to put pressure back on them, like all top class teams if you let the bowlers just bowl at you, their skills will just be too good over a period.

“You have to find a method of putting the pressure back on them, whether that’s sweeping the ball or coming down the wicket. You’ve got to stick to it and be pretty disciplined to go with it.

“It will be a good challenge for us as batters and one we are looking forward to.”

Scotland have previous experience of taking on Afghanistan in a T20 World Cup.

In the last global event held in 2016 in India, Afghanistan scored 170-5 batting first and then Scotland made 156-5 to give the former a 14-run triumph.

MacLeod was run out in that one for two, but like everyone else in the Scotland squad he is looking forwards rather than backwards and he is enthused about the next fortnight and the profile it could give Scottish cricket.

“I think the next two weeks is hugely significant, not just for the team, but for cricket in Scotland in general and some of the aspirations that Cricket Scotland as an organisation has,” he states.

“We want to be the leading associate nation and we want to push our case to be the next full member. If we look specifically at how Afghanistan and Ireland did it, they did it by doing well at World Cups in the past. We now have five great opportunities in the coming days to go out and show the cricket world what this team is all about.

“And we to showcase some of the T20 skills that this group has - and that starts with this Afghanistan match.”

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