Scotland celebrated their first victory in the Cricket World Cup League Two after defeating Papua New Guinea in Mannofield.
A beautiful 96-inning by captain Kyle Coetzer proved to be the difference in a highly competitive Northern Scotland competition.
After the PNG opener Tony Ura and Gaudi Toka were gone in the bat, they started against the new ball pairing of Gavin Main and Safyaan Sharif. In the face of Scotland’s first win in his first ODI, Main showed a good pace right from the start and hastened to make Ura a faulty move as he scored a good pass to Matthew Cross behind the stumps. However, PNG’s leading ODI runscorer settled down quickly and followed a classy drive to the long-on frontier in the third, with the last late cut for two taking place in the fifth.
Mark Watt, Richie Berrington and Michael Leask were introduced as Kyle Coetzer turned his bowlers. However, since Ura was looking forward to picking up singles while waiting for the opportunity at the border, the inauguration of the visitors’ innings was negotiated with little alarm. A single from Toka summed up the fifty partnership in its twelfth year before Ura suddenly hit the ground against Leask and saw the ball burst six times through Sharif’s hands on the border.
It was the Aberdeen born off-spinner who had the last word when his next two overs brought the doors of both batsmen. After Toka (16) hooked Cross, Ura (46) shot at Craig Wallace at the deep Midwicket border. PNG, from 63 without loss, were now 70/2.
The introduction of slow left wing Hamza Tahir quickly brought another one as Lega Siaka (2) joined Richie Berrington, while Assad Vala and Charles Amini fought hard to form a partnership of 60 for the fourth wicket, Scotland’s winner was constant at 4 points.
Amini’s move on the 29th brought a first limit in more than 16 overs, and although the left-hander added a second on the 31st, his departure on the next bowling by Sharif for 32 heralded the start of another series of wickets.
Coetzer, who dominated his repertoire of cuts, trains and drives, advanced to 90 with a big knock on the ground to clear the rope for the second time in the innings. However, he was denied on 96, which would have been a great century when Vala’s extra-tempo (3 for 37) finally permeated his defense. His team seemed safe, but the discomfort on the ground was palpable.
The unrest broke as Berrington (22) stumbled upon a fantastic performance by wicket keeper Kiplin Doriga, who awaited the batsman’s stare to bring Scotland up to 168 in the early ’40s. In the 42nd and 44th, Michael Leask built the deep Midwicket line, while Craig Wallace hit the target under 20 with a loft drive for four for additional coverage.
The pendulum swung back and forth in an exciting finish. After twelve competitive matches Leask (19) retired, while Safyaan Sharif (7 *) set the target with a six on only five. Only 3 were needed when Wallace (11) flew into Rovu’s hands, and with 11 balls left, the result was safe. Mark Watt (4 *) went through the ceiling four times to confirm Scotland’s seven-ball win.