Haq's 89 lifts the gloom for Scots

MAJID Haq hit an international best of 89 not out when play finally got underway in the Intercontinental Cup encounter between Scotland and the Netherlands at Mannofield yesterday.

After two days watching incessant rain in Aberdeen, the Clydesdale batsman took out his frustrations on a toiling Dutch attack as the Scots claimed the initiative.

However, the wet weather returned during the evening session, with the Scots well placed on 237-3 and they are now surely running out of time to force a positive result.

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The best they can hope for when play resumes this morning is to score quickly and then bowl the Dutch out cheaply to claim the 13 points on offer for a first-innings lead.

There was little surprise when Peter Borren, having won the toss, quickly invited Scotland to bat in conditions which were clearly in favour of seam and swing bowling.

In the event, Fraser Watts and Ryan Flannigan showed great resolve in seeing off the new ball, although neither Mudassar Bukhari nor Berend Westdijk found a consistent line or length.

Both batsmen eased early nerves with boundaries, Watts guiding one to third man and Flannigan slashing positively and safely over the slip cordon.

Boundaries, though, were a rarity, given the heavy outfield and the batsmen also moved well between the wickets to accumulate the runs.

The Scots had moved without undue alarm to 40 and looked set to go on when Watts, on 23, played loosely at a delivery from Bukhari and looked on in dismay as the ball caught the under-edge of his bat and rolled onto the stumps.

His departure paved the way for the arrival of Haq, promoted to preserve the order of Scotland's more recognised batsmen, and the Clydesdale player took his chance by joining Flannigan in a century stand.

The left-hander survived several chances particularly when dropped early on in the slips by Eric Swarczynski who succeeded only in sustaining a hand injury serious enough to require a quick trip to the local hospital.

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Haq benefited from another couple of spills from the Dutch fielders but mixed some streaky shots with some typically classy drives through the cover region.

Flannigan, meanwhile, moved smoothly to his maiden First Class century, the landmark coming from 93 balls and including seven boundaries, the best of them a firm drive to the cover rope.

The Watsonians batsman had advanced to 60 when Bukhari had his revenge, hitting the stumps as Flannigan attempted to force the pace.

However, Kyle Coetzer took up where Flannigan had left off as another substantial partnership put the Scots in the driving seat.

The Durham batsman showed his undoubted class with five well executed boundaries and an effortless pulled six off Pieter Seelaar.

Having reached 52 from 87 balls, though, Coetzer was sent on his way by umpire Niels Bagh who gave Borren the benefit of an lbw decision.

Preston Mommsen survived an equally confident shout from the next delivery before the players were soon scurrying from the field as yet more rain descended on the drenched Mannofield surface.Haq will bid to complete a maiden international century this morning while the timing of skipper Gordon Drummond's declaration may determine whether either side can harbour genuine hopes of forcing the first innings win.

By batting at three, Haq completed a full-house for Scotland. The Clydesdale batsman had batted in every other position.

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He said: "Hopefully I can go on and reach my century and I'd like to get there as fast as I can so that there are no nerves.

"I've scored centuries in club cricket and you just have to treat every ball on its merits. I had a bit of luck when I was dropped a couple of times so I want to take full advantage of that."

Haq added: "The coach told me this morning I would be batting higher than normal and I thought maybe six or seven. I was a bit shocked when he said number three but not that surprised because I have batted in every other position and this completes the set."

Of the plan to score quickly this morning, Haq added: "That will be our aim unless we can have an amazing day and bowl them out twice."SPARE PAGE