Cricket: Scotland find Shoaib too hot to handle

Pakistan 261-6 Scotland 167 Pakistan win by 94 runs
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The Independent Online
AND TO think there were cynics who believed Scotland would make no impact on the World Cup. They broke one record yesterday, equalled another and flirted with a third, which is not bad for a day's work. It was just a shame none bore a mark of distinction.

They lost to Pakistan by 94 runs in the Group B match at the Riverside, during which they gave away a one-day international record of 59 extras, including 33 wides - a feat only the West Indies have matched before. Given that at one point they were also heading for a World Cup lowest total, it was not an occasion to remember fondly.

To be fair to the Scots, the conditions favoured their bowlers yesterday morning, but too much. The pitch was moist and the sun baking hot and in these steamy conditions the white ball, which is prone to movement in the least helpful conditions, swung and seamed prodigiously.

The Pakistani batsmen did not know where it was going and the bowlers were little wiser either, and under regulations so stringent that umpires are itching to spread their arms if the ball deviates from middle to leg stump, wides were conceded at the rate of two an over until the wicket dried.

When Pakistan were 35 for 2, 18 of the runs were extras and at 60 for 4 only 29 had come off the bat. It would be easy to dismiss the largely part-time Scottish bowlers as incompetent but as the previous World Cup record, 51, had been set only the day before by India, the accusations should be pointed at the organisers, who insisted on white balls in England in May.

The Pakistan innings ended healthily at 261 for 6 but for a large part of morning it appeared to be heading for a score so scandalous you expected it to be exposed in a Sunday tabloid.

Shahid Afridi committed suicide going for a run to midwicket, Saeed Anwar was caught behind off Asim Butt and when Abul Razzak and Salim Malik were trapped leg before by James Brinkley and Gavin Hamilton respectively, a shock was in the offing.

Enter Yousuf Youhana, who is noteworthy not just because he is a rare Christian Pakistani cricketer but because he tops his country's one-day batting averages with more than 40. With Inzaman-ul-Haq he halted the slide, added 103 with Moin Kahn, an explosive 66 with Wasim Akram and finished unbeaten on 81. The last 20 overs of the Pakistani innings yielded 159 runs, the last 10 a blistering 104.

A target of 262 looked beyond Scotland's reach even before you saw Shoaib Akhtar bowl, and you use the word "saw" with misgivings because the batsmen clearly did not. By repute the fastest in the world, he whipped out Mike Smith, Iain Philip and George Salmond, and the first time they focused on the deliveries that dismissed them was when they were watching last night's television replays.

That the Scottish batsmen were rushing to get to the end being bowled at by Wasim (first spell 2 for 18) gives some idea of the ferocity of Shoaib's onslaught and, at 19 for 5, the Tartan Army was contemplating a disaster to surpass even those that have befallen Scottish World Cup football teams.

Even the tournament's worst of 45, compiled by Canada against England at Old Trafford 20 years ago, looked a long haul but Wasim compassionately withdrew himself and sent Shoaib to the outfield to contemplate the half decent figures of 3 for 6 off five overs.

Hamilton, the Yorkshire all-rounder who took 2 for 36 in the Pakistani innings, made the most of this reprieve to score 76, which included three sixes. He is one Scot who will look back on this match with pleasure.

However, the reintroduction of Shoaib to hasten a close lasted just one over before the bowler limped off with a sore knee. Instead it was just a case of how many runs Hamilton could steal for himself from an uninspired attack before the game dwindled to a close.

It finally did so almost 11 overs early when Wasim bowled an improvising Hamilton, after Abdul Razzaq had also picked up three late wickets.


Byes 5; Leg byes 6; Wides 33; No-balls 15