Can Scotland topple the No.1 T20 team?
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2018-06-12 11:04:35

Can Scotland topple the No.1 T20 team?

Pakistan are the No.1 T20I team in the world, having won 17 of their last 20 games in this format. One week less than a year ago, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men clinched the Champions Trophy at The Oval. When the calendar showed Pakistan would play two T20Is against Scotland at the tail end of their UK tour this year, it promised to be the highlight of Scotland’s summer.

But as Pakistan touch down in Edinburgh, it isn’t them everyone is buzzing about. Undoubtedly, these are huge games for Scotland. They only have four games beyond these two slotted for the rest of the year: two each against Ireland and Netherlands. But this series begins 48 hours on from the biggest day in Scotland cricket history, where they took on England, the No.1 ODI side, and smashed 371, sneaking a six-run win.

Pakistan, for their part, must be wary of the buoyant home side. Kyle Coetzer’s men have shown how little they fear playing against a top-ranked side and, as such, the ranking will play little part in how the match pans out. So far, Pakistan’s tour diary shows them limping to a shaky win in Malahide, a demolition of England at Lord’s, and a complete role reversal against the same side in Leeds. That makes these two games particularly important for how this tour will be remembered. Win both games, and Pakistan could claim to have come away with steady – albeit unconvincing – consolidation. Any other scenario, and this tour falls under the “disappointing” category.

 

It doesn’t get said nearly as often as it should, so it’s worth reiterating that Calum MacLeod is one of the best batsman in the world against spin. His ability to sweep high-quality legspin bowling only properly came to prominence three months ago, when he dismantled Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan in an ODI chase in Zimbabwe en route an unbeaten 157 that helped his side to a famous win in the World Cup Qualifiers. In Scotland’s win over England on Sunday, he was equally comfortable against Adil Rashid, who conceded 72 in his 10 overs. This time MacLeod registered an undefeated 140 off 94 balls. His tussle with Shadab Khan promises to be one of the most intriguing match-ups this series.

There were questions over Sarfraz Ahmed’s form, both with the bat and the gloves, before this tour began, but if they were posed in guilty, conspiratorial whispers then, they are starting to turn into bare-faced challenges now. In an article about Sarfraz just before this tour, Osman Samiuddin wrote that his batting was a worry, even if it hadn’t “fallen off a cliff”. With 88 runs from eight innings on this tour, it might not be hyperbole to suggest that, by now, it has. He will be anxious to leave the UK having salvaged some of those stats.

Categories:   Sport ،
Tags:   pakistan ، T20 ، Sarfraz Ahmed ، Scotland ، Edinburgh ،
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