Chance for Shaheen Afridi to make his mark and other talking points ahead of Scotland-Pakistan T20I series

Waseem Ahmed 11/06/2018
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Shaheen Afridi could be the next 'big thing'. Image - PSL/Twitter.

Just two days after Scotland pulled off a most famous win at Edinburgh, they will take on Pakistan in the first of the two-match T20I series on Tuesday.

Incredible scenes were witnessed at Grange Cricket Club on Sunday as Scotland recorded a remarkable six-run win over England in the one-off ODI, their biggest result in their cricketing history.

With those scenes fresh in mind, we take a look at the key talking points as Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan come calling at Edinburgh.

CHANCE FOR SCOTLAND TO SPRING ANOTHER SURPRISE

When England visited the Grange Cricket Club on Sunday, they came in as the No1 ranked ODI team in the world. That counted for nothing in the end as Eoin Morgan’s men were left searching for answers as Kyle Coetzer and his Scotsmen celebrated a win that will be remembered for a very long time.

Now, the Grant Bradburn-coached Scotland team will turn their sights on toppling the No1 ranked T20I team in the world. With momentum on their side, there is every chance that Scotland could add another giant scalp to their kitty.

The two sides have met only once previously in the format when Pakistan emerged victorious by 51 runs in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007.

Scotland can claim the scamp of another No1 ranked team.

Scotland will look to stun another No1 ranked team.

OPPORTUNITY FOR SHAHEEN AFRIDI TO MAKE HIS MARK

The two T20Is will mark the culmination of Pakistan’s extended tour of Ireland, England and Scotland. It has been a largely successful campaign for Sarfraz and his men who beat Ireland in the one-off Test at Dublin before holding England to a 1-1 draw in the two-match series.

They will now switch their attention to white-ball cricket with several youngsters who will be itching to make their mark in the series. One of them will be 18-year-old Shaheen Shah Afridi who has been earmarked as one of the hottest pace prospects in the country after a sensational campaign in the ICC U19 World Cup at the start of the year.

The left-arm pacer then impressed in his maiden PSL campaign before behind handed his T20I debut for Pakistan against the West Indies in April. The youngster has already spoken about wanting to use the series as a launch pad for his Pakistan career and he will definitely be one to keep an eye on come Tuesday.

Afridi has been earmarked as a future superstar.

Afridi has been earmarked as a future superstar.

RUNS EXPECTED TO FLOW AGAIN

Sunday’s ODI at Edinburgh saw a total of 736 runs scored as the boundaries flowed. A lightening quick outfield coupled with a short boundaries and an absolute road of a pitch meant that boundaries flowed at the Grange Cricket Club.

The crowd on Tuesday can expect similar entertainment with the pitch expected to play the same. There is plenty of firepower in the batting department of both teams.

While Scotland’s unbeaten century hero Calum MacLeod took most of the plaudits and deservedlyso, the likes of Coetzer, Matt Cross, George Munsey and Richie Berrington all chipped in with valuable contributions and are looking in good form.

On the other hand, Pakistan have the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Shoaib Malik, Hussain Talat and Haris Sohail in their strong batting unit so expect the bowlers to suffer again on Tuesday.

Batsmen should be able to make merry once again on Tuesday.

Batsmen should be on top again on Tuesday.

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Scotland's Calum MacLeod goes from unsuccessful fast bowler to most prominent ODI batsman outside Test arena

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Calum MacLeod became the hero of Scotland after his 140 set up a stunning six-run win over England on Sunday.

MacLeod’s innings against the No1 ranked ODI team not only sent shockwaves around the world but also proved that teams like Scotland who are outside the Test fold can compete against the big boys in white-ball cricket.

So, who is MacLeod? Here’s all you need to know about the 29-year-old batsman:

EARLY DAYS AS A FAST BOWLER 

At the beginning of his career, MacLeod was a fast bowler with Warwickshire. His action was reported by the umpires during Scotland’s ICC Intercontinental Cup match against Canada in 2009.

After re-configuring his game, MacLeod shifted his focus to batting and has now amassed 3,079 in one-day cricket, 1,867 in T20s and 904 in first-class cricket.

SUCCESS IN ODIs

MacLeod holds the record for most centuries scored in ODIs by batsmen outside the Test fold. In 57 ODIs, he has scored scored 1,853 runs at an average of 37.81 with seven centuries and six fifties.

That puts him ahead of Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate (five centuries), Scotland’s Kyle Coetzer (four) and Kenyan legend Steve Tikolo (three). The buzz MacLeod’s swashbuckling innings on Sunday generated was massive and such was its impact that the batsman has now been signed up by Derbyshire for the T20 Blast.

ASHES FIELDER

MacLeod has another record to his name. He is the first Gaelic speaker to appear in a Test match after he came on as a substitute fielder for England in the during the Birmingham Test of the 2009 Ashes.

“Calum is as Scottish as you can get but appearing in England colours was definitely a dream come true. He has already played for Scotland against England. However, to be involved in front of a capacity crowd and millions of TV viewers was great,” his father Donald was quoted as saying at the time.

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Dale Steyn set to make Test return after being named in South Africa squad for Sri Lanka tour

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Steyn has been named in South Africa's 15-man squad for the tour.

Dale Steyn is all set to make his return to Test cricket after the pacer was named in the South Africa squad for the two-match series against Sri Lanka.

The 34-year-old has only recently returned to competitive cricket with Hampshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup after suffering a freakish injury during the first Test against India in January this year.

That Test was Steyn’s comeback to international cricket after more than a year out due to a shoulder injury suffered in the series against Australia in 2016.

“It is very welcome news to have Dale back in our pack of world-class seamers, particularly in view of the retirement of Morne Morkel,” Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) National Selection Panel convener Linda Zondi said on Monday after the announcement of the 15-man squad.

There was also some good news on the fitness front for Kagiso Rabada, with the young pacer now having completely recovered from a lower-back injury which ruled him out of the IPL this year.

Rabada has made a full recovery from his injury.

Rabada has made a full recovery from his injury.

“Kagiso Rabada has also made a complete recovery from the injury concerns he had at the end of the Australia Test Series,” Zondi said.

Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has been given a Test recall while uncapped leg-spinner Shaun von Berg has been included in the squad too.

“A key factor in our selection process was to cover all our bases and all possible conditions that we may encounter in Sri Lanka. The two additional spinners to back up Keshav Maharaj have both had excellent records in recent times in our domestic cricket. Von Berg also gives us additional batting strength in the lower order,” Zondi stated.

“Heinrich Klaasen is the other uncapped player although he has been part of our squad for some time. He provides wicketkeeping cover for Quinton de Kock and is also a contender for a specialist batting position,” he added.

South Africa will play two Tests in their tour of Sri Lanka with the first of them getting underway at Galle on July 12.

SOUTH AFRICA 15-MAN SQUAD

Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Lungisani Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Shaun von Berg.

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