A brilliant all-round performance from Pakistan ended Scotland’s last hope of a Super 12 win as their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign finished in a 72-run defeat at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Half-centuries from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik – the latter off only 18 balls – set a platform that was then ruthlessly exploited in the field as the Full Member side confirmed its semi-final place as winners of Group 2 at a canter.
Chasing 190, Scotland’s batters never had the chance to get going against the guile and accuracy of a Pakistan attack which exploited the Sharjah surface to the full. Kyle Coetzer was the first to fall, Hasan Ali’s slower ball evading his attempted drive, before luck deserted Matthew Cross, run out at the non-striker’s end after bowler Imad Wasim fingertipped a George Munsey drive past him and into the stumps.
The departures of Munsey and Dylan Budge left Scotland 41/4 in the eleventh, and although Richie Berrington and Michael Leask battled hard, Berrington scoring a 37-ball 54 – his second half-century of the competition – the margin of victory reflected the dominance of a world class team at the very top of its game.
Scotland will take heart from a number of positive points, however, not least in the fine start to the first innings which restricted Pakistan to just 35 runs from the Powerplay. That early pressure was converted into a wicket next ball as Mohammad Rizwan under-edged Hamza Tahir to Cross behind the stumps, and when Chris Greaves then made it 59/2 by dismissing Fakhar Zaman, Leask completing a well-judged catch at deep midwicket, Scotland was right in the game.
But Azam and Mohammad Hafeez swung momentum back the other way, and although both fell before the end – Hafeez trapped in front by Safyaan Sharif for 31 and Azam caught by Munsey off Greaves for 66 – Malik remained to power Pakistan to 189/4 and, ultimately, put the game out of reach.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and an experience that I think the players will only get better from,” said Scotland Head Coach Shane Burger. “In terms of the match today, the first ten overs I thought we were brilliant. I thought our execution and our planning, and our energy just looked like we really belonged. I thought that we were absolutely superb in the way that the bowlers bowled, the way we were fielding there was a real energy and Pakistan were under extreme pressure.
“Then we just lost our way a touch which can happen. Pakistan were able to exert a bit of pressure on us and we had a few moments that if we had grabbed them could have potentially changed the course of the game. We gave them far too many in the last five overs. Then from a batting perspective just couldn’t really find ourselves getting into fourth and fifth gear which you need to when you’re chasing 190. There were far too many dots in the first ten overs and ultimately losing a clump of wickets and being 40/4 is an incredibly tough place to come from to chase 190.
“I thought Richie Berrington was superb, he showed great commitment with the bat, so he was the shining light in terms of batting. But we were just outclassed today and we’ll take a lot of learnings from that. Credit to Pakistan, they’re a wonderful outfit and they have a lot of dangerous players.
“That ends the journey for us, but we have no doubt now that we’ve created a platform to keep getting better. This experience will be invaluable for not only players, but also staff and as an organisation we need to pounce on what has been created here. It’s been a long couple of months and it’s been very successful in many avenues, but we know we need to get better to be able to compete at the highest level.”