Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Reigning ICC Associate Player of the Year Calum MacLeod notched his second fifty in as many games against USA, but this time it was in a winning cause as Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif's unbeaten 58-run seventh wicket stand carried Scotland past USA by four wickets at ICC Academy.
By Peter Della Penna in Dubai
Middle-order batsman Calum MacLeod produced a second straight half-century against USA, but this time the lower order ensured it did not go to waste as a 58-run seventh-wicket partnership between Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif clinched a four-wicket win for Scotland with seven balls to spare chasing a target of 246 on Saturday night at ICC Academy in Dubai. Davey was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 26 off 25 balls which followed a first innings haul of 2 for 46 in 10 overs.
USA was sent in at the toss by Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer as Davey struck with his second ball taking the new ball in the second over, getting Monank Patel to edge low to Calum MacLeod at first slip for a duck to make it 6 for 1. But from there, USA rebounded well behind an 87-run partnership between Steven Taylor and Xavier Marshall. The X-Man looked in excellent touch once again with some simmering straight drives in his 50 off 67 balls to dominate his stand with Taylor. He attacked left-arm spinner Mark Watt for a straight six in the 15th to move to 44. But he lost momentum towards the end of the stand, scoring just five runs across the next six overs before he fell two balls after reaching his half-century as another attempt to attack Watt resulted in a skied catch to MacLeod backpedaling from extra cover in the 21st to make it 93 for 2.
Hamza Tahir made it back-to-back wicket maidens in the 22nd as Aaron Jones endured a rare failure, chipping a back of a length ball softly to Kyle Coetzer at short midwicket for a six-ball duck. Watt had been taken off after his initial five-over spell concluded with the wicket of Marshall but struck upon his return in the 27th, getting Ian Holland for 8 driving at a fullish length delivery to make it 112 for 4. Taylor slowed down significantly at the opposite end as he approached 50, finally bringing it up off 76 balls with a single in the 28th. One ball after flicking Alasdair Evans through fine leg for four in the 30th, he cut uppishly to Richie Berrington at backward point for 56 to make it 123 for 5 as USA wasted an excellent start from their top order.
Akshay Homraj and Nisarg Patel stabilized the innings with a 56-run sixth-wicket stand but both players failed to carry on after getting excellent starts. One ball after using his feet to drive Tahir through mid-off for four, Homraj attempted another charge down the pitch but picked out Berrington at extra cover with a loose drive for 27. Nisarg survived to very difficult chances on 13 and 30 before finally falling for 38, hit deep in the crease playing back to Watt for the lone successful lbw appeal in the innings to make it 204 for 7 with 31 balls left.
As he did numerous times in the month of November in Trinidad, Cameron Stevenson provided a crucial contribution with the bat lower down the order to stretch out the USA innings. He slog swept Watt for six in the spinner’s final over, then picking off a pair of boundaries against Sharif in the 48th as part of his 34 not out off 32 balls.
Rusty Theron fell on the first ball of the 49th to Davey, top edging a thigh high full toss to deep backward square leg where Evans took a catch just inside the 71-meter boundary. Saurabh Netravalkar pulled Evans for four through mid-on to start the final over but fell next ball top edging the same shot for a catch to Matthew Cross. Nosthush Kenjige was able to pick a pair of threes off the remainder of the over thanks to aggressive running from Stevenson at the non-striker’s end to take USA to their final total of 245 for 9.
Watt had Scotland’s best figures finishing with 3 for 33 in 10 overs after taking four wickets against USA in their first encounter. Tahir ended with 2 for 45 while Evans claimed 2 for 67 to go along with Davey’s two wickets. Sharif was the only wicketless bowler in Scotland’s lineup, returning figures of 0 for 49 in his 10.
Scotland got off to a very methodical start, reaching 24 for 0 in eight overs as Theron and Netravalkar built pressure at each end beginning with consecutive maidens to start the chase. Netravalkar struck for his tour-leading 10th wicket in the ninth, claiming Cross with a back of a length ball edged behind to Homraj for a tumbling take.
Stevenson then struck for the first of his three wickets on the day in the 12th with the final ball of his first over as Coetzer’s attempt to flick off the back foot through midwicket produced a leading edge sensationally caught at backward point from a one-handed diving effort by Taylor. But Stevenson also became wayward at times as he struggled to harness his aggression. In his third over, a bouncer to MacLeod sailed for five wides. Homraj’s attempt to leap and knock the ball down resulted in a hand injury that forced him off the field for the rest of the match as Monank took over from behind the stumps from the middle of the 16th over.
Stevenson struck again to start the 20th, pinning Michaal Jones with a full delivery for a successful lbw shout to make it 75 for 3. But the quick from Victoria see-sawed in the 22nd when Berrington uppercut him for six over backward point, then drive him for four through cover before Monank fumbled a regulation take on a back of a length ball to concede four very sloppy byes in what turned into a momentum-shifting 18-run over, taking Scotland to 100 for 3 after 22. From a run rate that was under four per over, Scotland suddenly jolted nearer five per over in the space of six balls and were in command for the remainder of the chase.
Berrington and MacLeod wound up adding 78 together for the third wicket but Nisarg struck on the third ball after the final drinks break to end the stand. Nisarg claimed Berrington lbw for 36 after a failed sweep struck Berrington low on the back leg in front of middle stump. Stevenson then bounced out George Munsey for his third wicket in the 40th to make it 185 for 5.
Still, Scotland were in command as long as MacLeod remained at the crease. USA had a pair of runout chances that they could not capitalize on with MacLeod on 54 and then again on 59 when Kenjige and Taylor missed a pair of clear chances from backward point and short extra cover respectively. But USA did not miss out on a third opportunity as MacLeod and Sharif horribly misjudged a run taking on Kenjige at short midwicket, who relayed to Monank at the striker’s end with MacLeod four yards short to make it 188 for 6.
From there, Scotland needed 58 off 57 balls. Faced with a near identical scenario five days earlier in Sharjah, USA’s pace attack wiped out the Scotland tail to clean up the last three wickets after MacLeod for just one run. But Davey and Sharif showed their resilient character on this occasion at ICC Academy. The pair only scored five runs in the first 15 balls after MacLeod’s runout, but they refused to panic and eventually the boundaries started to come. Davey struck Stevenson for four in the pace bowler’s final over in the 45th to get momentum going again.
The last opportunity for USA to breach the stand came in the 45th when Monank appeared to spill a thick edge standing up to the stumps to Holland with Davey on 8. But Davey clocked Holland over long-on for six in the 47th before Sharif whipped him past fine leg for a boundary in a 12-run 47th. With third man and backward point up in the ring for Theron in the 48th, Sharif capitalized on too much width to carve Theron twice over backward point for four in a 15-run over that brought the equation under a run a ball with two overs left. A two and four singles in the 49th off Netravalkar clinched the match for Scotland to draw them three points behind USA on the Cricket World Cup League Two points table with a game in hand.
Stevenson ended with 3 for 67 in his 10 overs while Netravalkar and Nisarg were the only other wicket-takers for USA, ending with 1 for 31 in 9.5 overs and 1 for 41 in seven overs respectively. Kenjige was used sparingly, taken off after just three overs that conceded 13. Theron and Holland’s figures were mildly spoiled at the death as Holland ended with 0 for 37 in 10 while Theron finished with 0 for 46 in nine with two maidens.
USA’s squad flies home on Sunday morning with no more scheduled action before their next League Two tri-series in Nepal that includes Oman as the third team from February 5-12. Scotland and UAE face off in the series finale at ICC Academy on December 15.