A 58-run stand for the 7th wicket between Safyaan Sharif and Josh Davey took Scotland home in another scrappy win, ending the USA’s hopes of a series sweep in the process.
Davey, left out in Scotland’s opening loss, was included at the expense of Dylan Budge as they diverged from the tactic of only playing four specialist bowlers. A strong all-round performance should reassure the team management that five bowlers are the way forward after they have repeatedly struggled to find a suitable team balance across both formats.
The USA, having successfully defended totals in their last two matches, was given the chance to do so again as Kyle Coetzer sent them in to bat on another hot day in Sharjah. Davey, on his ODI return after over two years, made his pedigree known immediately as he removed Monank Patel with his second ball, Calum MacLeod taking the catch at first slip from a loose drive. But Steven Taylor and Xavier Marshall rebuilt, seeing off the opening spells of Davey and Sharif before attacking Alasdair Evans, who also struggled in the teams’ opening encounter.
Coetzer then turned to his ever-reliant spin twins of Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir, and the pair applied a squeeze that broke the partnership just after Marshall crossed fifty, then brought two more in short time as both Aaron Jones and Ian Holland departed trying to attack. Evans got some respite for his opening spell as he returned and removed the set Taylor for 56, leaving the Americans on 123/5 and far from a competitive total.
But their lower order once again rallied, and through a strong partnership between Akshay Homraj and Nish Patel they stretched the total to something defendable, before Cameron Stevenson launched an attack in the final overs, hitting an unbeaten 34 to take the total to 245/9, a strongly competitive total in a tournament where they have successfully defended totals of 213 and 282.
With the absence of batting depth, Scotland took a cautious approach to the chase, and for much of it felt like they were sorely behind the required rate. An uncharacteristically cautious opening partnership from Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross ended after 8.2 overs with only 24 runs to show for it, as Cross edged Netravalkar behind. Coetzer fell soon after, skying one to point off Cameron Stevenson for 13, leaving Calum MacLeod with another rebuild mission.
After scoring 87 in a similar chase in their first encounter, MacLeod adopted similar tactics, allowing his partners to do the scoring and risk shots. Michael Jones cut Cameron Stevenson for a six over third man, but the bowler got his revenge next over as a nip-backer trapped him lbw for 24. Richie Berrington joined MacLeod, and provided the attacking impetus needed, taking a Stevenson over for 18 just as the required run rate appeared to be increasing. The pair combined for 78 runs before Berrington missed a sweep, and George Munsey’s stay was brief, dealing mostly in boundaries before edging one behind for 16, exposing the Scottish bowlers.
Calum MacLeod’s calm approach then became chaotic as he sought to manipulate the strike with the tail, with two run out chances going begging in short succession. He then somehow contrived to create a third chance, with the Americans making no mistake on this one, Scotland losing their last recognised batsman with 58 runs still needed at over a run a ball.
But all this talk of ‘recognised batsmen’ was proven to be nonsense, as Davey and Sharif saw out the final runs with absolutely no issue, looking as good as any #7 and #8 worldwide. The pair waited for the poor balls, as the USA’s discipline slipped and they got carried away with wayward bouncers. The match was sealed with two overs of 12 and 15 off Holland and Theron as the pair slogged towards the boundary with more success than the top order, completing the four-wicket win with seven balls remaining.
The win ends the USA’s chance at a sweep, but they will still finish first for this round with three wins from four, and remain top of the overall table. Scotland has the chance to cut their lead to just one point when they take on the hosts in the final match of this round.
A scorecard of the match can be found here.
The points table for CWC L2 can be found here.