CWC League 2: UAE 224 for 3 (Suri 67, Hameed 63*, Budge 1-21) defeated Scotland 220 all out (Coetzer 95, Cross 53, Mustafa 3-35, Sddique 3-49) by 7 wickets with 37 balls remaining.
UPDATED POINTS TABLE AFTER ROUND 3 HERE.
A dramatic Scottish collapse from 138/0 to 220 all out has gifted UAE their first win of League Two as their hosting round of the Scots and USA came to a close in Dubai. Having been beaten by the USA twice and losing the first encounter with Scotland to the weather, the UAE capitalised on some odd selection and a lacklustre performance from their opponents to seal a comfortable seven-wicket win.
Team selection has been a headache for Scotland for a while, as they seek to balance a side with no genuine all-round options. But after yesterday’s victory over USA coming with a balance of five bowlers and six batsmen, it seemed strange for them to not only divert from that, but reshuffle the entire order, in a match which is far from a dead rubber. A win here would have reduced the gap between them and first place USA to just one point, but they now find themselves further adrift from the top spot many thought they would easily claim.
Leaving out two experienced seamers in Alasdair Evans and Safyaan Sharif, Scotland recalled Dylan Budge, who has never truly been given a run in the side to prove himself as a batsman, and Stuart Whittingham, who had been out of international selection for well over a year. In other changes, George Munsey was shunted up to #3, Matthew Cross was relieved of keeping duties, and Michael Jones was put down at #7 and given the gloves. It all added to a perplexing number of changes for a side that had only just scraped through in the previous game. UAE meanwhile handed a debut to 18-year-old Figy John, as they also looked to find balance after the loss of several key players.
After being put into bat, the Scottish openers started strongly, with both of the pair passing fifty in a more characteristic opening stand than their previous outings in this series. They frequently found the boundary in the opening passage, with the UAE seamers unable to keep tight lines and avoid loose balls. They reached the end of the openers’ spells cantering at over six an over, but when spinners Rohan Mustafa and Ahmed Raza took the ball, the brakes were applied and the scoring rate slowed.
The pair went for six overs without a boundary as spin choked their scoring, with young legspinner Palaniapan Meiyappan joining in support, before Coetzer broke the shackles and sent the first ball of his sixth over back over his head for six. Cross however couldn’t match his captain’s impetus, falling next over attempting a reverse sweep against Raza for a well-made 54, the partnership 138. From there, they never recovered.
George Munsey, a traditionally attacking batsman, failed to get the ball past the infield and perished trying to force a cut off Junaid Siddique, a good diving catch from Meiyappan at point sending him on his way. Calum MacLeod entered off the back of scores of 86 and 62, but before he could settle in, Meiyappan ripped through the other end. Coetzer, stuck somewhere between a drive and a cut as his top hand came off the bat, lobbed an easy catch to cover, just five short of his century, and then Richie Berrington edged to first slip only two balls later, leaving Scotland 170/4.
Dylan Budge came to the crease looking to play a meaningful knock after too many fleeting chances at #7, but any attempt at a rebuild vanished when MacLeod missed a drive against Mustafa and was bowled for 17. The last recognised pair of Budge and Michael Jones dug in for several overs, but were undone in a manner of balls as Budge was run out and Jones cut Mustafa onto his stumps in quick succession. There would be no rearguard from the tail either as the final four ended with only three runs between them, finishing on a middling 220 all out.
Some of the low defences in this series may have given Scotland hope, particularly the USA’s defence of 213 against the UAE, but with only four recognised bowlers it would be an uphill task. But the recall of Stuart Whittingham was made to look even more absurd after four overs as he delivered three wides, a no-ball full toss and four easy boundaries in his opening two overs. Josh Davey then copped an assault of his own as Chirag Suri lifted him for consecutive boundaries to mid-wicket, with the UAE suddenly finding themselves at 42/0 after just five overs.
Coetzer immediately turned to his trusty spin pair of Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir, and Tahir returned the wicket of Vriitya Aravind for 17.But with no scoreboard pressure, the left armers struggled to contain runs and Suri completed his half-century in 47 balls. With only four bowlers and one conceding at 13 runs per over, Coetzer had limited options and oddly elected to gain overs from his part timers rather than pushing for wickets. Berrington, Budge and MacLeod all sent down overs of part-time trundlers, and though they didn’t let the run rate get out of hand, they were rarely threatening, with the only wicket coming as debutant John lifted an innocuous Budge delivery to deep midwicket to give him his first ODI wicket.
Whittingham returned to the attack to improve on his figures, and found a better rhythm second time around, finally dismissing the dangerous Suri for a solid 67. From there Muhammad Usman joined Basil Hameed and the pair never looked flustered. Combining for an 86-run partnership to take UAE home, the absence of a high required rate and lack of any serious attacking options from Scotland meant the pair could feel free to push around and see the game out with no troubles, eventually closing it with Hameed on 63 not out, with six overs remaining.