'Team' Scotland have the quality and class to build on their roaring first-round success

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'Team' Scotland have the quality and class to build on their roaring first-round success
© AFP/Getty Images George Munsey is the most explosive opening batter in Associate cricket © AFP/Getty Images

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This tournament has already been a roaring success for Scotland. They had won one match, a dead-rubber against Hong Kong five years ago, in 21 attempts at World Cups, so topping their first-round group after a clean sweep of Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Oman represented the finest achievement in their cricketing history.

There is no doubt that the Super 12s will be a tougher challenge than was the case in the first-round games, but the fixtures’ list has been relatively kind. They start with fixtures against Afghanistan – whom they should not fear, having played each other regularly over the last decade – and Ireland; those games are their best chances of wins and if they can extend their winning streak then they will dare to dream ahead of clashes with the big boys.

Scotland’s progress through the first stage was achieved through complete team performances rather than one star player dragging them through. Chris Greaves was the unlikely hero in the win against Bangladesh in only his second T20I, but with both bat and ball the key has been their balance: only Richie Berrington has passed 100 runs and Josh Davey is the only bowler with five or more wickets.

Recent form

Played three, won three at this tournament. Scotland have been in the Gulf for a month, playing World Cup League 2 fixtures against Oman and PNG before getting stuck into their T20 preparations and appear to have benefitted from a long stretch of time in which to adjust and adapt.

Batting

George Munsey is the most explosive opening batter in Associate cricket and has already shown glimpses of his power and invention at this tournament, reverse slog-sweeping whenever he has the chance. He will open with captain Kyle Coetzer, with Matthew Cross anchoring at No. 3. Berrington is their most dynamic player at No. 4 and would be tasked with rotating the strike against spin alongside Calum MacLeod, who memorably took Rashid Khan down in the World Cup Qualifier in 2019. https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/cricket-wc-qualifier-2017-18-1132997/afghanistan-vs-scotland-4th-match-group-b-1133001/full-scorecard Michael Leask and Greaves are both useful six-hitters but can they step up against world-class death bowlers?

'Team' Scotland have the quality and class to build on their roaring first-round success
© ICC via Getty Chris Greaves has been a fantastic addition to the Scotland line-up © ICC via Getty

Bowling

Scotland’s spinners have been a crucial factor in their success in the World Cup so far, squeezing teams through the middle overs, but will come under greater pressure against stronger teams in the Super 12s. Mark Watt, the left-arm spinner, uses his height and the crease to create variety – watch out for the ball he delivers from next to the umpire – while Greaves (fast, flat legbreaks) and Leask (right-arm darts) will form the fifth bowler between them. The seam stocks are strong, with Brad Wheal and Davey sharing the new ball and Safyaan Sharif likely to edge Alasdair Evans out as the third seamer.

Player to watch

Wheal is the seamer in Scotland’s attack with the most T20 pedigree, shining for Hampshire and London Spirit in the Blast and the Hundred this summer, but has been upstaged by his new-ball partner Davey so far. Davey is not a fixture in Somerset’s T20 side and leaked 9.79 runs per over in the Blast this year, struggling with the dimensions of their tiny home ground in Taunton, but has been a banker both in the powerplay and at the death in the World Cup so far. He bowls at relatively gentle pace – around 80mph/130kph – but will look to swing the new ball then fall back on his cutters at the back end.

Key question

Scotland are in a group filled with world-class spinners and while Berrington, MacLeod and Munsey have had success against slow bowlers in the past, it will be tricky to cope on the slow, low surfaces in the UAE – particularly in fixtures against Afghanistan and Pakistan in Sharjah. They showed some vulnerability against Mahedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan in the win against Bangladesh, and will need to find a way to avoid getting bogged down in the middle overs.

Likely XI: 1 George Munsey, 2 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 3 Matt Cross (wk), 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Calum MacLeod, 6 Michael Leask, 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Josh Davey, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Brad Wheal

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