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Pakistan claim the series but Scottish cricket remains the winner

A magnificent all-round performance from Pakistan saw them close out a two-nil T20I series win in Edinburgh, writes Jake Perry.

Jake Perry @CricketScotland
June 13, 2018 7 days
Pakistan claim the series but Scottish cricket remains the winner

Pakistan 166 (Shoaib Malik 43*, M Leask 3 for 31) beat Scotland 82 (C MacLeod 25, Faheem Ashraf 3 for 5) by 84 runs

Pakistan showed just why they are the best international T20 side in the world as they eased to an 84-run win over Scotland at The Grange. A terrific all-round performance saw Sarfraz Ahmed’s team claim their second victory in two days to secure the two-match series by two games to nil.

After posting their second-highest total in a T20 international yesterday, Pakistan began with high hopes of a repeat as Sarfraz elected to bat first again on winning the toss. Opener Fakhar Zaman made his intention plain from the outset as his third ball flash burst through Calum MacLeod’s hands at slip, and as Zaman brought up the team fifty with a straight six off Ali Evans in the sixth the opener looked on course to make the most of his reprieve.

The introduction of Mark Watt and Michael Leask brought a double breakthrough, however, as first Ahmed Shehzad (24) then Zaman (33) departed, and when Sarfraz (14) fell to a magnificent relay catch on the boundary, Dylan Budge flicking the ball back for Watt to complete the catch as he tumbled over the rope at deep backward square, Pakistan had been pegged back to 83 for 3.

Two more followed for Leask in the 14th when Talat (17) was stumped and Asif Ali (0) caught before a fifty partnership from Shoaib Malik (49*) and Shadab Khan (17) swung the game back the way of the visitors. Although Shadab (17) fell in the final over, Malik’s unbeaten 49, a second fine innings to add to his half-century from yesterday, saw Pakistan to what turned out to be a winning total.

Scotland’s reply began in the worst possible fashion with a three-ball duck for George Munsey, and although Richie Berrington (20) found the boundary then cleared it in the second, his mistimed chip to Asif Ali at midwicket two overs later put Scotland onto the back foot again. Kyle Coetzer (1) chopped on in the fifth to leave Scotland 26 for 3, and with runs hard to come by and wickets continuing to fall Scotland struggled in vain to get their innings off the ground. Pakistan’s bowlers, led by Faheem Ashraf (3 for 5) and Shinwari (2 for 4), were outstanding as they wrapped up a deserved victory with more than five overs to spare. Scotland’s short, but memorable, home international summer was at an end.

After congratulating his opponents, Kyle Coetzer reflected on what has been a remarkable few days.

“Although having won our first game [against England] we’d have loved to have added a second, we’ve played some excellent cricket over these past four days,” he said. “The atmosphere here has been outstanding. People have come through the gates and it’s been a credit to Scottish cricket and to everyone who has been involved in setting this up.

“It’s where we want to be and it’s where we want to continue to push forward from.”

And push forward they surely will. Losing to the best international T20 side in the world is no disgrace – Pakistan are a magnificent team who are where they are for a reason – but Scotland’s achievement against the other side at the top of the ICC rankings, a feat which stands as the crowning glory of their reinvention over the past two years, has propelled them into the limelight.

In schools and offices around the country, Scottish cricket is being talked about. It has trended on social media, been on the front as well as back pages, discussed on the news bulletins as well as the sports, commented on by radio pundit and politician alike. Sunday’s result did not come as a particular surprise to those who have followed the upward trajectory of this team since the World T20 in 2016, but for most Scottish sports fans their cricket team’s rapid improvement had largely passed under the radar.

Those days are gone. The victory over England ranks alongside the greatest of all Scottish sporting triumphs, and all now know that they have, as BBC Reporting Scotland put it, a “new [sic] team to get behind.”

Grant Bradburn and Kyle Coetzer’s Scotland rewrote the history books that day. And, going forward, there are a host of potential converts waiting to read the next chapter.

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