Scotland 322-6 (M Cross 114, R Mustafa 4 for 56) beat UAE 249 (M Usman 80, C Sole 4 for 68) by 74 runs
Scotland top the Super Six table at the ICC World Cup Qualifier after a comfortable win over UAE at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawayo. A career-best 114 from Matthew Cross was the pick of a dominant display by Scotland’s batsmen as they began the second phase of the tournament in style.
Batting first on a pitch which had shown itself to be at its best in the first innings of each match played on it so far, Scotland’s opening pair of Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross were quickly off to a confident start. Sixteen came from the fourth over as Coetzer found the boundary twice before clearing the rope at long leg for the first six of the innings.
With the in-form Scotland captain already looking dangerous UAE skipper Rohan Mustafa quickly turned to spin, and with the opening stand at 68 the decision was rewarded as Coetzer (43) offered a return catch to Imran Haider. The legspinner found drift and turn off the Queen’s Club surface, but with Cross and Calum MacLeod content to bide their time Scotland continued to make steady and largely untroubled progress.
With around twenty overs remaining the shackles were off, however, as Cross and MacLeod dramatically picked up the pace. Cross, after bringing up an 89-ball half-century, crunched his first maximum over wide long on before following it with two more as the hundred partnership was reached. MacLeod used the sweep to good effect once more as he too passed fifty before taking nineteen off Haider’s final over to see Scotland to 218-1 with ten overs remaining.
Cross crowned a terrific century with a towering six over deep square leg, and although he and MacLeod were to lose their wickets as they looked to keep up the onslaught their stand of 161 had put Scotland on the path to a match-winning total.
MacLeod’s departure for a 79-ball 78 set for Richie Berrington, and Scotland’s most-capped player duly marked his 211th appearance with a characteristically dominant 37*. With George Munsey (30) joining the fun, too, UAE were looking down the barrel of a third 300-plus chase as Scotland posted their fourth-highest ODI total.
For UAE to have any chance they had to begin strongly and Mustafa made his intentions plain with two boundaries in the first over. Ashfaq Ahmed quickly found his stride, too, as UAE raced past fifty in what was a flying start.
The first breakthrough reasserted Scotland’s dominance, however, as Chris Sole marked his first appearance in the tournament with two quick wickets. After Mustafa (32) found Michael Leask on the long off boundary Ahmed (30) was caught by Craig Wallace at square leg, and with Chirag Suri (0) gloving a Brad Wheal bouncer through to Cross, 62-0 had suddenly become 64-3.
Mark Watt trapped Adnan Mufti (11) in front and Safyaan Sharif nipped one through the defences of Shaiman Anwar (13) to stall the counter-attack still further, and although UAE were keeping up with the required run-rate as they passed the hundred mark Scotland were well in control.
Sole claimed his third wicket as Mohammad Boota (5) fell to a brilliant catch on the boundary by a back-pedalling Munsey, and although Mohammad Usman kept up the fight with a composed half-century as he built a hundred partnership with Ahmed Raza the stuffing had been knocked out of the chase. Usman’s departure for 80 dealt the knock-out blow. The remaining wickets fell quickly as Scotland maintained their record of being the only side in the tournament to bowl their opponents out on every occasion.
The victory moves Scotland one point clear at the top of the Super Six table with West Indies slipping to second after their three-wicket loss to Afghanistan. With only one more win required and the game against Ireland to follow on Sunday, the dream of World Cup qualification is very much alive.