After the famously stirring victory against England, Scotland were brought back down to earth by a ruthlessly professional performance from Pakistan, who took a 1-0 lead in the T20I series with a 48-run win in Edinburgh. After winning what looked like a crucial toss, Sarfraz Ahmed made the right decision this time, batting first on a pancake of a track. He was instrumental to the victory, top-scoring with an unbeaten 89 using all the craft and street-smartness that makes him such a compelling player to watch. Aided by the evergreen Shoaib Malik, who smashed five sixes in a 27-ball 53, Pakistan amassed their second-highest T20I score, reaching 204.
The last five overs was absolute carnage. Eighty runs came off them with Scotland bowling in shoddy fashion. The decision to use debutant left-arm spinner Hamza Tahir when the Sarfraz-Shoaib partnership was at its most devastating phase was somewhat bizarre. Final figures of 4-0-57-0 suggest it didn’t quite work either.
The game didn’t pass without shades of the Scottish side that so thrillingly upstaged the old enemy England a couple of days ago. After an ominously explosive start by Pakistan – chiefly Fakhar Zaman, who was given a reprieve after Michael Leask put down an easy chance, Scotland had the better of the middle overs. Leask, Mark Watt and Alasdair Evans – the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 23 – strangled Pakistan after the Powerplay. Hussain Talat never looked comfortable at the crease and Sarfraz was struggling for rhythm early, all of which contributed to the run-rate hovering around 8, well below par for a batting paradise.
The start of the Scottish innings suggested they were well up for the chase. Coetzer was impressive, surgically picking out gaps in a Powerplay field before lofting Mohammad Amir for a six straight over his head. A remarkable reverse-swept six off Mohammad Nawaz from George Munsey in the first over was perhaps the shot of the match, and the causal impudence with which it was attempted signified the journey Scotland have been through to feel comfortable enough at this level. By the end of the fifth over, Scotland had reached fifty without loss, keeping on top of the run-rate and ahead of Pakistan at that stage.
But it was around that point the game began to peter out as a contest, with Pakistan showing why they are such a potent side. The bowlers stepped up as they sniffed an opening. Coetzer had been deprived of the strike since Hasan Ali had removed Munsey in the sixth over and he fell trying to regain the lost momentum. —Agencies