Scotland ready for WT20 opener

07 Mar

Scotland has arrived in Nagpur for the small matter of the ICC World T20 2016 - the moment the players have dreamt about for most of their lives, cricketing lives anyway is about to begin, writes Kaylan Geekie.

The squad are set and ready for their three Group B fixtures against Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium. Win all three and they will guarantee progression to the next stage of the tournament - it’s a no-brainer. 

Scotland’s preparation has included an intensive training period in Pune before contesting six warm-up matches. The results were mixed - that is to be expected - winning three and losing two. Sunday’s game against the Netherlands was abandoned after only 15.1 overs because of rain, which is not ideal.

Grant Bradburn’s men are ready for another shot on the big-stage. Most of the core group of players took part in last year’s 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the mood is positive within the camp that they will perform and be a success. 

This is Scotland’s third Twenty20 World Cup inside ten years since the inaugural event in South Africa in 2007. The team was also part of the 2009 edition in England and now in India, they are back, aiming to claim their first scalp on the world stage.

This is not a team that is in India to make up the numbers, no. This will be Scotland’s fourth international tournament since 2014, a list which includes two qualifying competitions and two World Cups: the ultimate goal; the child’s dream and the pinnacle of sport. 

However, it will be as hard as ever to get through to the Super 10s. The Scots’ Group B opponents Hong Kong and Afghanistan have already participated in the recent Asia Cup in Bangladesh.

They will be battle hardened to tournament cricket as well as having experienced similar conditions of playing on the sub-continent and they will be tough to beat.

One of Scotland’s warm-up games was against Oman in Mohali which they lost. Having comfortably defeated Sultanate Sate in last year’s T20I Qualifiers at home, it was no surprise that they struggled this time round on foreign terrain. 

Scotland recently toured Hong Kong and drew the Twenty20 series 1-1, with the defeat coming in a heavily rain-affected game. Scotland however, did win the second match comprehensively.

Afghanistan is a team that has stretched Preston Mommsen’s men over the past few years. The two sides last met at the Grange in July 2015 during the ICC World T20 Qualifiers, which the Scots lost.

The match was tense, with the tourists eventually winning by 37 runs and it will be no different this time around, but this time on pitches that will suit Afghanistan more than Scotland. This is without a doubt the crunch game of the group, one they really want to win.

Scotland also face Zimbabwe, the only Full Member nation in the group and they will prove as challenging. No match is easy - this is how it should be. International cricket is tough and unyielding, especially at global tournaments.

The time for talking is at an end, the planning and preparation is done and it’s time to deliver. It’s time to do themselves justice; time to show the world they belong. And as a great man once said: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".

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