Impressive Scotland begin desert campaign with Hong Kong victory


Scotland 189-3 (RD Berrington 60*, CS MacLeod 60, Ehsan Khan 2 for 26) beat Hong Kong 165-6 (Ehsan Khan 42*, MRJ Watt 1 for 20) by 24 runs.

Scotland kicked off the Desert T20 in style as they completed a comfortable victory over Hong Kong at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod shared a record 127 run partnership as Scotland’s total of 189-3 proved to be too much for their opponents to overhaul.

On a breezy day Man of the Match MacLeod raced to his highest T20I score in an entertaining knock peppered with reverse sweeps and switch hits to go alongside more conventional blows. It was, as he later reflected, a conscious decision influenced by the playing conditions.

“The normal reverse sweep is a good boundary option for me so I like playing that,” said MacLeod. “[Playing] the switch hit was purely down to the wind as I thought there was more value trying to do that than in trying to take on the long boundary with the big wind.

“They were testing conditions so I was trying to adjust to them rather than trying to play something I play all the time.”

MacLeod also highlighted the influence of his partner as the two posted a new Scottish record for any wicket in T20 internationals.

“It’s always good batting with Richie. He’s played a lot of cricket so he’s good to talk to. He calms me down when I’ve got some ideas in my head and he kept us on track.”

Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer was pleased with his side’s performance.

“Looking at the numbers we weren’t far off where we wanted to be,” he said. “It’s our second game [of the] winter so we [are] pretty happy with that.

“Hong Kong have got players throughout their line-up who are dangerous but I thought our bowlers stuck to their task really well,” Coetzer added. “They were clear with their plans and they were clever with the wind, too, that was massively important.

Mark Watt did an excellent job, all from the tougher end with the breeze going towards long on.”
Earlier, Hong Kong’s bowlers had found the going tough with only Ehsan Khan (2-26) returning an economy rate of less than seven per over.

Scotland openers George Munsey (22) and Coetzer (31) got off to a brisk start, putting on 60 in the first seven overs, and after both departed within the space of four balls MacLeod and Berrington were on hand to accelerate still further.

Both players brought up their half centuries with maximums in the nineteenth over, and despite the partnership being broken on the penultimate ball of the innings as MacLeod attempted to switch-hit a third consecutive boundary the two had ensured that it would be a challenging, and ultimately unmanageable, chase for Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong reply got off to a faltering start with Aizaz Khan run out in the second over without facing, and after Safyaan Sharif (1-24) claimed the key wicket of Babar Hayat (10), caught by Josh Davey on the midwicket boundary in the fifth, the batsmen struggled to sustain any significant momentum in the face of a rapidly climbing required run rate.

With Mark Watt and Con de Lange (0-22) keeping things tight Scotland were cruising, and despite both Anshuman Rath (29) and Shahid Wasif (40) fighting hard, Rath’s run out after a calamitous mix-up between the two ensured any final glimmer of hope for Hong Kong was extinguished.

Although Ehsan Khan weighed in with some late blows his side came up short in the face of an impressive Scotland performance, and Grant Bradburn’s men can look forward to Tuesday and their group-defining match against the Netherlands with considerable confidence.

By Jake Perry