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ICC World Cup Qualifiers: Vibrant Scotland Brush Aside UAE

Updated: March 15, 2018, 9:20 PM IST
ICC World Cup Qualifiers: Vibrant Scotland Brush Aside UAE

Matthew Cross (ICC/Twitter)

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It's hard to shake the feeling that this is Scotland's time. On the back of a great set of recent results – reflected in an increase of fixtures against Full Members, with matches lined up in June against England and Pakistan – Scotland have played expansive and joyous cricket throughout the tournament to put themselves in a promising position to qualify for the final, and with it, next year's World Cup.

It was a stellar batting performance from the off. The top five all made contributions. Despite a spirited effort by the batsmen of the United Arab Emirates – for whom defeat ended their hopes of World Cup qualification – their total of 322/6 was never going to be hauled in.

After Kyle Coetzer won the toss and opted to bat first, he and Matthew Cross put on 68 for the first wicket, with the captain the aggressor, as Cross took his time settling down.

Rohan Mustafa, the UAE captain, shuffled his bowlers and got the result when Coetzer was beaten in the flight by the leg-spin of Imran Haider to pop an easy return catch. Coetzer's innings, studded with five fours and a six, had set the tone. More carnage would follow.

Calum MacLeod, whose 157* against Afghanistan earlier in the tournament signalled Scotland's readiness to compete, maintained the momentum with a classy 78, sharing a rambunctious 161-run partnership with Cross.

The opener was the star of the show, and Cross duly brought up his century with a pick-up over deep square-leg for six off Zahoor Khan. MacLeod went soon after, walking across his stumps to scoop Zahoor over fine-leg and missing altogether. His 78 occupied just 79 balls, and included eight fours and a six.

MacLeod's dismissal left Scotland at 229/2 in the 41st over, and though Cross followed in the 44th, bowled by Mustafa for 114 – a career-best effort in one-day internationals for the 25-year-old – the final 10 overs still produced in excess of 100 runs, with Richie Berrington and George Munsey ensuring there was no let up.

Mustafa was the pick of the bowlers for UAE, accounting for Michael Leask (6) and Craig Wallace (4) during the slog overs, to end with the impressive figures of 4/56. Berrington, who became Scotland’s most capped player on the day, finished the innings with an unbeaten 21-ball 37.

Calum MacLeod got back among the runs with a stroke-filled 78 Calum MacLeod got back among the runs with a stroke-filled 78

Scotland's bowlers did the rest, with Chris Sole the pick of the bunch. Playing his first match of the tournament, Sole bowled with great control of line, packing the off-side, consistently hitting that back-of-a-length mark to throttle UAE's top order.

After the openers Rohan Mustafa and Ashfaq Ahmed had played expansively against the new ball to compile an opening stand of 62 in under seven overs, it was Sole who broke the deadlock, inducing the misplaced heave from Mustafa.

His opening partner was the next to go, failing to control an attempted hook shot to give Sole his second victim. 63/0 was soon 117/6, as wickets fell at regular intervals. A superb seventh-wicket stand of 104 between Mohammad Usman (80) and Ahmed Raza (49) leant some respectability to the UAE's run-chase, but it was not quite enough.

The Scots go marching on, and following the West Indies' defeat, they now top the table with five points from three matches, while UAE, able to obtain a maximum of four points, can no longer qualify for the Cricket World Cup.
First Published: March 15, 2018, 9:20 PM IST
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