Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer admits he is desperate to sample more of the big time after savouring four “special days” against two of cricket’s superpowers.
There was disappointment for the skipper as his side were unable to follow up their historic one-day international victory over England with another win as they took on Pakistan in two Twenty20 clashes in Edinburgh.
But even a crushing 84-run defeat in Wednesday’s showdown could not wipe the grin off Coetzer’s face as he looked back on a rare outing against ICC Full Member opposition.
The decision to reduce next year’s 50-over World Cup from 14 teams to 10 has already cost the Scots one chance to place themselves on the game’s biggest stage.
But Coetzer is determined to see his team take as many opportunities as they can to ensure they are not left out in the future.
He said: “It’s been a pretty special four days. I’d have said beforehand that if we came out of these three games having won one of them, we’d have taken that.
“But having won the first one we were hoping to go on and get a second.
“It wasn’t to be but we’ve played some excellent cricket over the four days. The atmosphere has been superb, people have filed through the gates and that is an absolute credit to Scottish cricket and everyone involved in setting this up.
“These kind of occasions are where we want to be and that’s what we’ll be pushing forward for.”
The Scots looked to have put themselves in with a chance to claiming another major scalp as Pakistan were limited to 166 for six.
But when opener George Munsey fell to a duck after just three balls, the Saltires reply crumbled and they were eventually bowled out for just 82 with five runs to spare.
They now head to Holland for a Tri-Series that also includes Ireland but Coetzer admitted he was frustrated there were no other clashes in his side’s diary.
“We have to use every occasion we have as we don’t get many of them,” he said. “We go now to Holland tomorrow. Holland two games, Ireland two games and that’s our schedule done for the summer.
“That’s disappointing in many ways, but we have been fast learners for quite some time now, considering the lack of games that associate teams play.
“Do we need more games? Yes. We’ve said it for a while and I’ve harped on about it enough to be honest. So have other teams. More cricket is key but that has to be balanced with the top teams not playing too much cricket.
“There is a balance there but hopefully one can be found.”
Glenn Maxwell (62) held the innings together as Australia were bowled out for 214. Moeen Ali picked up three wickets to rattle the Aussies before pacer Liam Plunkett took three to finish the innings.
During the chase, England kept losing wickets at regular intervals with captain Eoin Morgan scoring 69. However, tali-ender David Willey scored an unbeaten 35 as England reached 218 for seven.
England made just one change from Sunday’s Scotland defeat, with Jos Buttler replacing Sam Billings. Michael Neser forced his way into Australia’s XI.
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Having won the first match by 48 runs, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat first again. His side managed to put up a challenging 166-6 on board after 20 overs before his bowlers ran through Scotland’s batting-order in no time to bowl them out for just 82 runs.
Here, we look at the key talking points from Pakistan’s comprehensive victory.
PAKISTAN OPENERS CASH IN
Pakistan would have got off to a disastrous start had Calum Macleod not dropped a straightforward chance off the third delivery of the match. Scotland pacer had the dangerous Fakhar Zaman edging to MacLeod at second slip but the hero of the hosts’ win over England let the ball slip through his hand for a boundary.
That was all Zaman and Ahmed Shehzad needed as they went after the bowlers in the powerplay. While the former was his usual belligerent self, cutting and hooking with will, the latter soon found his groove and hit two big sixes.
By the end of six overs, the visitors had raced to 54-0 to put themselves in control.
LEASK TRIGGERS MIDDLE-ORDER COLLAPSE
With Pakistan’s openers going great guns, another daunting chase seemed to be on the cards for the hosts. That was until left-arm spinner Mark Watt got the breakthrough with the dismissal of Zaman in the eighth over. In the very next over, off-spinner Michael Leask had the well set Shehzad caught on the boundary ropes.
Soon, it became a procession of batsmen returning to the dressing room with Leask calling the shots. Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was unable to continue his fine form as he was caught following a combined effort from Dylan Budge and Watt at the edge of the boundary.
Youngsters Hussain Talat and Asif Ali perished within the space of three deliveries to the off-spin of Leask with both the batsmen getting dismissed while attempting a big stroke. With the fall of Asif, Pakistan had gone from 60-0 to 98-5 as Scotland came roaring back into the tie.
SHOAIB MALIK CAMEO REVIVES PAKISTAN
After the middle-order collapse, Pakistan looked destined for an under-par score before veteran Shoaib Malik took control of the innings. Just like he had done on Tuesday, the 37-year-old dealt mostly in sixes to make the most of the short boundaries at the Grange Cricket Club.
The right-hander was batting on 17 with two overs to go and then went on a rampage against pacer Safiyaan Sharif in the penultimate over. He struck the bowler for two sixes and a boundary before being dropped by Leask at long-off on the final delivery. That drop would come back to haunt Scotland as Malik struck two more sixes to remain unbeaten on 49 from just 22 deliveries.
The right-handed batsman ensured Pakistan posted a challenging total of 166-6 as 34 runs came off the final two overs.
SCOTLAND FAIL MISERABLY WITH THE BAT
A chase of 167 was always going to be tricky for the Scots but they made a hash of it by collapsing in the powerplay itself. First, Geroge Munsey fell for a duck in the very third delivery of the innings after chipping a tame drive off Usman Khan Shinwari straight into hands of Zaman. Then, Usman struck again by shattering the stumps of Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer in his next over before Faheem Ashraf had Richie Berrington caught at mid-on six deliveries later.
None of Scotland’s batsmen delivered with MacLeod being the only one to cross the 25-run mark. They were suspect against both pace and spin. Once their top-order was back in the pavilion within the powerplay overs, the hosts never got an opportunity to recover.