(ESPNCRICINFO) – Scotland shook the T20 World Cup on the opening day by beating the No. 6 ranked Bangladesh by six runs. The margin doesn’t, however, reflect just how well Scotland played at the Al Amerat ground. The little-known Chris Greaves, playing only his second international match, rescued his side with a quickfire 45 after Scotland slipped to 53 for 6. Then with his quickish leg-spin, Greaves removed Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim just when Bangladesh had started to make a move towards the 141-run chase.
Greaves was calm under pressure with the bat, adding 51 runs for the seventh wicket with Mark Watt. He scrapped hard in the last five overs, which ultimately helped Scotland immensely in terms of giving them energy in the field, and then sucking the life out of Bangladesh.
Brad Wheal took three wickets while Greaves finished with two scalps. Josh Davey and Watt got one each, while Safyaan Sharif closed out the game in the last over, even though Mahedi Hasan threatened briefly with a six.
Failure to launch in the end
But despite the sluggish nature of the Shakib-Mushfiqur partnership, when they added 47 off 7.4 overs, Bangladesh always knew that they had Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan to get the job done in the last five overs.
Afif survived a dropped catch in the 16th over, but he could strike only two fours in his 12-ball 18. But the bigger surprise was how Mahmudullah, Bangladesh’s main finisher, kept mistiming the ball at the death. His 22-ball stay only yielded a four and a six, as he made only 23. Hasan too had little time to maneuver, pumping a catch to MacLeod who took three catches in all on the boundary line.
Mahedi’s final fling
Sharif had to defend 24 runs in the final over, but it was only when Bangladesh required to hit only sixes in the last three balls, Mahedi swung him over square-leg for a six. Sharif kept his head in the last two balls, bringing Scotland the hard-fought win.
Coetzer’s surprise for Soumya
Off the first ball he faced, Soumya cracked Brad Wheal through midwicket for a beautiful four. Was this going to be the turnaround for Soumya, who struggled badly against Australia in August, and was mostly dropped against New Zealand in September? He had already been picked over Mohammad Naim, who himself was struggling for runs, after he had made couple of thirties in the warm-up games.
But Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer wisely put a man at deep midwicket, a standard decision in such a situation. But when Soumya struck a similar shot off Josh Davey in the second over, the man at midwicket, Munsey, didn’t have to move an inch to complete the catch. Soumya looked rather daft for trying the same aerial shot, as it looked like he wasn’t aware of the fielding change. It wasn’t really rocket science but Coetzer looked like a genius.
Scotland keep Shakib, Mushfiqur quiet
Scotland played on Bangladesh’s poor start by keeping Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim quiet throughout their 47-run stand. Only in the ninth over Mushfiqur hammered Leask for two sixes, but the experienced duo surprisingly batted conservatively. Finally, when Shakib did hit out at Greaves, Callum MacLeod took an excellent running catch around the deep midwicket boundary.
Spinners dominate Scotland
Scotland lost their way just when the aggressive George Munsey was getting into his big-hitting groove. Off-spinner Mahedi took two wickets in the eighth over to stop Scotland in their tracks. He trapped Matthew Cross lbw attempting a sweep, before he bowled Munsey, who had struck two sixes and two fours in his 23-ball 29.
Shakib followed up Mahedi’s double-wicket over with one of his own, and it took him to the top of T20I’s wicket-taking chart. Richie Berrington fell trying to clear long-on, where Afif Hossain took an excellent catch. When Michael Leask struck the fourth ball of the over to long-off where Liton Das had an easier catch, Shakib’s tally reached 108, one more than Malinga.
Mahedi further dented Scotland in the following over when he bowled Callum MacLeod for five. From 45 for 1, they slipped to 53 for 6, losing five wickets for eight runs in the space of 3.2 overs.
Greaves, Watt dig deep
Bangladesh released some of the pressure when Afif went for ten runs in the 13th over. Playing only his second T20I, Greaves showed no nerves. He hammered two sixes and four boundaries in his 28-ball 45; Scotland’s top score in the innings. Watt contributed 22 off 17 balls with two fours, before holing out to Soumya Sarkar off Taskin Ahmed.
Their 51-run stand is the highest for Scotland for the seventh wicket, crucially picking them past the 100-run mark when they looked down the barrel at 53 for 6 in the 12th over.
Greaves takes down Taskin
But Watt’s wicket didn’t have any effect on Greaves, who went back to work on Taskin. He cracked him past point for four before pasting him with an upper-cut for his second six. When Graves struck Taskin’s next ball for a nice cover drive, suddenly Taskin’s shoulder slouched, Mahmudullah had a frown and Scotland felt a bit better despite being seven wickets down. Davey and Sharif hammered one six each in the last two overs, which went for 21, and took Scotland to a fighting 140 for 9.