Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Pakistan look to conquer buoyant Scotland

KARACHI, JUN 12 (DNA) – Pakistan will hope to conclude their tour of Britain and Ireland on a successful note by pushing aside minnows Scotland in a two-match Twenty20 International series beginning at The Grange.But it won’t be as easy as it sounds for the world’s top-ranked team in the T20 format.Ranking-wise there is a huge gap between Pakistan, who are the number one team in T20 Internationals and Scotland, placed at No. 11.

But just the other day, the Scots showed what they are capable of when they stunned England by six runs in a high-scoring thriller at The Grange.Scotland hammered 371 in the ODI against England and their formidable batting line-up could pose problems for the Pakistanis in the back-to-back T20 games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, the Pakistan should take the field with confidence as they have a balanced lineup that can beat the best in the fastest format of the game.The squad wears a very different look to the one that played the Tests, with Ahmed Shehzad in there as well as the very experienced Shoaib Malik and the rookie Shaheen Afridi, among others.

With Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Malik, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat and Sarfraz Ahmed, the captain, in as frontline batting options, there is a strong line-up there.The bowling is fronted by Shadab Khan, the No.2 bowler in the world in the format, and Mohammad Amir, No.13 on the same list. Them aside, there are Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Afridi of course, and others to pick from, and an all-rounder in Faheem Ashraf, leaving Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur with a lot of options.

Pakistan’s expertise in the format is formidable but Scotland have the home advantage, and are coming in on the back of one of their more famous wins, and that should make the two T20Is excellent contests.

Scotland have a decent record in T20 Internationals: 18-23 in 45 games. But, though it happened over a decade ago, they lost their only T20I against Pakistan back in Durban in the ICC World T20 2007, when Pakistan slammed 171/9 and bowled Scotland out for 120.

For Scotland, the disappointment of missing out on a spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 couldn’t have been papered over by the win over England, but as Calum MacLeod, their star of the win with a 94-ball 140*, said, “this was a special day; it is up to us now to build on it”.

That’s what they will go out and try to achieve against the top team in the world, with the playing XI for the England game all available to choose from.MacLeod was the hero of the memorable triumph, but Matt Cross (48), captain Kyle Coetzer (58), Richie Berrington (39) and George Munsey (55) all got good runs in the game and will hope to put up strong shows against Pakistan too.

Among the bowlers, in a match where 736 runs were scored in 98.5 overs at an overall rate of 7.4, Mark Watt (5.50), Alasdair Evans (6.25) and Safyaan Sharif (7.22) held their own, and that is a good sign for Scotland too, enough to give them confidence especially in home conditions.

The ODI against England went off without interruption, and while rains have been forecast for Edinburgh on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be rain-free. That should work well, and the track at Grange – if nothing changes – should give batsmen plenty of reasons to smile.

Squads:

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hissain Talat, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi.

Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (captain), Richie Berrington, Dylan Budge, Matt Cross, Alasdair Evans, Craig Wallace, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Hamza Tahir, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Mark Watt, Brad Wheal, Stuart Whittingham.

Today’s match

Pakistan vs Scotland 08:00 pm (PST)