T20 Review: Scotland v Afghanistan
It might be harsh, but you know where you are with Scotland’s cricketers: they always let you down.
While Kyle Coetzer and George Munsey were orchestrating a rapid stand of 84, amassed in less than nine overs, Grant Bradburn’s team looked eminently capable of breaking their jinx at global tournaments by chasing down Afghanistan’s 170 in this crucial World T20 clash.
But once again, as we have witnessed too often in the past, a combination of lack of composure and inability to find the boundary at crucial stages cost them dear.
The bare statistics testify to how Scotland lost four wickets for just 25 runs, but more importantly, their innings was strangled in the middle overs by the canny spin of Mohammad Nabi and his colleagues, who stifled their opponents’ charge, preventing the Scots from hitting a boundary for more than 50 deliveries.
Optimists might point out that Preston Mommsen’s side still have a toe-hold in the tournament, but they will now have to beat ICC Full Member Zimbabwe and Hong Kong, as well as relying on results elsewhere to make progress.
Mommsen rued his men’s inability to keep their feet on the accelerator, but they should have possessed the professionalism to get the job done.
“If we had kept them to 15 runs less, we would have been happier,” said Mommsen, but the reality was that his own slow bowlers were not in the same class as their rivals.
One couldn’t fault Alasdair Evans and Safy Sharif, who put the ball in the right areas, but sadly, their confreres couldn’t back up their effort, with Josh Davey conceding over 40 runs in his spell and the likes of Matt Machan and Richie Berrington far better batsmen than bowlers.
Prior to the match, I discussed Majid Haq’s omission from the squad with former Scotland captain Ryan Watson in a CricIndex podcast and we disagreed over the spinner’s inclusion in the party.
But it seems unarguable to me that Haq would have prospered yesterday in conditions where he could have taken pace off the ball.
None of this is detracting from another reminder of Afghanistan’s remarkable progress. Mo Shahzad produced a swashbuckling 61 and his captain Ashgar Stanikzai compiled a patient and ultimately pivotal 50.
These lads know how to win in these tight contests. Scotland, in contrast, seem more accustomed to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
And, barring an astonishing turn of events in the next five days, this wasn’t just another loss, but a result which could jeopardise the whole future of pro cricket in Scotland.
listen to our excellent podcast previewing Scotland’s chances in this World Cup with Dan Rhodes, Neil Drysdale and special guest Ryan Watson.