Scotland made history in the opening game of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with a magnificent 6-run victory over Bangladesh at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman. Player of the Match Chris Greaves’ 28-ball 45 with the bat and 2 for 19 with the ball was the difference as the Scots recovered from 53/6 to record their first-ever win over a Full Member at a major ICC event.
The Scots had recovered superbly from a disastrous spell in the middle overs in which the batters had looked in danger of being overrun. George Munsey had got the innings underway with a cut through backward point for four, but accurate bowling from the right-arm/left-arm pairing of Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman had then kept any further scoring to a minimum. Mohammad Saifuddin converted the pressure into a breakthrough by firing a yorker through Kyle Coetzer’s defences: Scotland, still to find their feet, were 5/1 in the third.
Munsey was not quiet for long, crashing a six over deep square leg then another over long-on to move the score on to 38, but, just as he was hitting his stride, a flurry of wickets then put the Scots on their heels. After Matthew Cross and Munsey fell to Mahedi Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan claimed the scalps of Richie Berrington and Michael Leask, and when Calum MacLeod followed, too, five wickets had fallen for nine runs and Scotland, at 53/6, were deep in trouble.
But Greaves, on his World Cup debut, led the fightback in magnificent style, reverse-sweeping Afif for four then Mahedi for six, while Mark Watt added a 17-ball 22 as the duo put on 51, a Scottish record for the seventh wicket in T20Is. Watt skied a catch to Sarkar, but Greaves marched on, ramping a six over deep third man as eleven came from the eighteenth. He, too, fell, five short of what would have been a deserved fifty, but both Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif cleared the ropes again to take Scotland to 140/9: a fine comeback against the sixth-best T20 side in the world, and ultimately a match-winning one.
Bangladesh began the chase briskly, Soumya Sarkar finding the boundary second ball with a swing over midwicket, but Scotland were ready when he tried to repeat the shot next over, Munsey completing the catch off the bowling of Davey. When Munsey quickly bagged another, this time Litton Das, who shovelled a slower ball from Brad Wheal to him at mid-off, the Full Member side had been reduced to 18/2. Were it not for an umpire’s call in the fifth, it would have been 19/3: Mushfiqur Rahim survived the check for LBW, but Wheal, Davey and Sharif kept the pressure firmly on.
The introduction of Watt continued the game of cat and mouse, the Heriot’s slow left-armer varying both his flight and delivery position to keep the batters guessing. But Mushfiqur released the tension with two sixes in the ninth, and with good running between the wickets keeping the scoreboard moving, too, Bangladesh reached 59/2 and a good position at the halfway point.
Scotland needed a breakthrough, and it was man of the moment Greaves who provided it. Shakib, seizing on a short delivery from the legspinner, could only find a running MacLeod on the deep midwicket boundary, and when Mushfiqur was bowled attempting to reverse-flick the ball over the wicketkeeper, Bangladesh, now with two new batters at the crease, needed more than ten an over.
The returning Wheal continued to tighten the screws, while another good over from Greaves pushed the required rate up beyond twelve. Scotland were fielding superbly, making the batters work for every run, and Watt crowned what had been another fantastic spell with the wicket of Afif – his fiftieth in T20Is – caught by Davey with the score on 105. And then it was 110/6, MacLeod taking a catch of nonchalant brilliance on the long-on boundary to remove Nurul Hasan: Mahmudullah cleared the ropes next ball, but MacLeod then took his third of the night to put the game beyond doubt. Wheal finished with 3 for 24 before Safyaan Sharif, Scotland’s history-maker in June 2018 against England, closed out the final over and a result of even greater significance in the long history of the Scottish game.
“It’s a huge win for us,” said Kyle Coetzer, who was awarded his 200th cap before the game. “It’s something that we’ve been planning for for a long time. It’s been a long two years since the qualifying tournament: until a month ago we’d played two games of cricket as a group. So there’s a lot of planning behind the scenes, there’s been a lot of guys working hard and sometimes it seemed that you were working for nothing because tours kept getting cancelled, so that was really hard for us to manage. This, for us, is reaping the rewards of keeping the faith in terms of this tournament coming around and being a better team when we arrived out here.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from that today. Going in against any side like Bangladesh and ultimately coming out winners is really important. But we know we have to play really well to win any game of T20 cricket.”
“We’re buzzing,” said Shane Burger. “It’s a wonderful feeling when a plan comes together.
“We always believed that we could beat them, but we also know that this is just another game and we’re going to have to put it behind us pretty quickly because we have another game coming up in a couple of days. We know in this competition that any team can beat any other team, so we can’t take our eye off the ball.
“This is a good start for us. We’ve set high goals and aspirations and while tonight was incredibly close, it was good to see that even in tough positions, we believed. The greatest compliment I can give this team is that we belonged on that field, and I’m incredibly proud. It was an inspiring performance from the lads and I’m really happy, but we know there’s a lot still to do.”
The Scots next face PNG, who were beaten by Oman in the opening game of the tournament, in a match which starts at 11am UK time on Tuesday.