Scotland – fired by some great batting by player of the match Richie Berrington and George Munsey – got their ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 series in Dubai off to the perfect start on Saturday against Papua New Guinea, winning by 162 runs.
Due to the pandemic making travel difficult in the last couple of years, most of the countries involved in the event that runs from 2019 to early 2023 are playing ‘catch up’.
The Scots have a busy 2022 of 50-over cricket to come as a result and they showed in this game that they are ready for the challenges ahead.
After this one, unbeaten centurion Berrington said: “It was great to get off to a winning start in what is going to be a big year for Scottish cricket and I think all-round we were pretty happy with the performance.
“I think putting 280 plus on the board first up on that pitch was always going to make it a tough chase for PNG, our batters put in a lot of work early on to get in on that pitch and then we managed to get up to that decent score.
“Our bowlers were excellent from start to finish, never let the PNG batters settle and consistently put them under pressure.”
In the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer won the toss and decided to have a bat.
He and Matthew Cross got things off to a solid start, reaching 37 runs in the 10th over before the latter was trapped LBW by Chad Soper for 21.
Three balls later, in the 11th over, Coetzer followed him back to the pavilion for 13, caught by Simon Atai off the bowling of Sema Kamea, and Scotland were 37-2.
Calum MacLeod and Berrington, the experienced duo, had to rebuild things a bit at that point of the innings – and they did just that.
The put together a partnership of 80 runs in the next 19.5 overs before MacLeod was out for 32 off 51 balls, Norman Vanua taking the catch off the bowling of Riley Hekure.
The next 19.5 overs saw the fireworks coming.
Berrington was well set by the time left hander Munsey joined him at the wicket and the two batters put on a masterclass.
The former made his way to a composed-as-ever 114 not out from 127 balls, an innings that included 10 fours and a six.
And Munsey, after getting himself set, played the kind of destructive innings everyone in this country knows, finishing up on 79 not out off just 62 balls.
The innings included six fours and four sixes and, in the last seven overs, he and Berrington smashed 106 runs – 22 runs in the 49th one the most – as they propelled their charges up to a good looking total of 284-3 from 50 overs. The unbeaten partnership was worth 167 runs.
In the second half, Scotland opened the bowling with seamer Safyaan Sharif and spinner Hamza Tahir and the latter made the first breakthrough off the penultimate ball of the sixth over.
He had PNG skipper Assad Vala caught and bowled for 10 and he then had the other opener, Lega Siaka, caught by Sharif for 13 off the second ball of the eighth over.
That left PNG 23-2 and when Tony Ura was caught behind by wicketkeeper Cross off the bowling of seamer Gavin Main in the ninth over they were in a bit of bother at 24-3.
Scotland sensed they could really turn the screw and by halfway through the 22nd over they had taken a further three scalps and were well on the way to victory.
Spinners Michael Leask and Mark Watt took one apiece and then Sharif got in on the act to leave PNG 74-6.
The batters battled through to the 30th over before Calum MacLeod bowled Sese Bau for 29 as the score moved onto 98-7.
Main got his second wicket in the 34th over when he had Soper caught for 13 by Berrington and the same bowler was at it again two overs later.
He had Alei Nao caught by MacLeod and the Scots needed just one more wicket to seal victory.
Three balls later Main, who finished with 4-26 from 5.5 overs, ended things by having Kamea caught by MacLeod as PNG finished on 122 all out.
Tahir’s final figures were the impressive 2-20 from nine overs while, in total, six of the seven bowlers used took scalps.
Scotland will now play Oman on Sunday at noon UK time next up before facing PNG again on 13th April and Oman on 15th April.
On Sunday’s game, Berrington adds: “We know it will be a tough game, but we will take confidence from the performance against PNG and we want to build from here now.”
Team that played Papua New Guinea: Kyle Coetzer (C), Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington, George Munsey, Dylan Budge, Michael Leask, Mark Watt, Safyaan Sharif, Gavin Main, Hamza Tahir.