Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Leask stars for Scotland to deny PNG maiden League 2 win. Leask first picked 3 for 19 and then scored a half-century to lead Scotland to a four-wicket win.
Leask first picked 3 for 19 and then scored a half-century to lead Scotland to a four-wicket win.
Michael Leask's outstanding all-round performance saved Scottish blushes as they closed out a nail-biting four-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in Muscat to deny PNG their first win in CWC League 2 and move to second place on the table. Leask was the stand-out with the ball for the Scots, taking 3-19 in his ten overs as PNG recovered from 97-6 to post a competitive 226-8 after electing to bat in the fourth ODI of the six-match tri-series in Oman. The Papuans threatened to stage a remarkable upset when they reduced Scotland to 167-6 in reply, but Leask's unbeaten, 34-ball half-century from number seven saw his side over the line with seven balls to spare.
Norman Vanua had rallied the PNG tail in the first innings with a 52-ball 57 after the Barramundis' top order again failed to deliver, and Chad Soper's rearguard 39* saw them to a defensible total at the break. Scottish skipper Kyle Coetzer laid a solid foundation for his side from the top of the order, his 81 off 103 keeping them well in contention even as regular wickets fell at the other end, but his dismissal in the 35th oversaw pressure mount on the lower order as the asking rate climbed to 8 an over by the final powerplay and PNG continued to find regular wickets, leaving Leask the last recognised bat at 167-6. Mark Watt would stay with Leask to the end however, Scotland holding their nerve to allow Leask to capitalise on some poor death bowling, hitting three fours and as many sixes, the last seeing the Scots home on the penultimate ball of the 49th over.
Papua New Guinea were under pressure early after electing to bat, while Lega Siaka's innings started promisingly sweeping Mark Watt for four to get off the mark, Kiplin Doriga, promoted up the order, could not find a way to score at the other end. The pressure would get to him by the sixth over, running himself out for a 16-ball duck attempting a suicidal single to mid-on. Siaka would go two balls later after another promising start, done by extra bounce from Ali Evans and top edging on the pull, brilliantly held by Dylan Budge tracking back from short midwicket.
Gaudi Toka would look to reclaim the initiative rather than play himself in taking Main for back to back boundaries, the first flying away off a thick outside edge but the second a well-struck cut through point to bring up the fifty for PNG, yet Main would win the contest with the last ball of the over, Toka driving away from his body at a fullish inswinger and losing his off stump to leave the Barramundis in familiar trouble at 53-3.
Leask would bag his first wicket in the 17th, Sese Bau chopping onto his own stumps for just 3. Four overs later Leask would strike again, turn and bounce taking the ball away from Vala's cut, finding Cross' gloves by way of the outside edge. A perfect inswinger from Evans burst through Hiri Hiri's defences to rip out leg stump six over later, and PNG found themselves six wickets down before passing 100.
Jason Kila and Vanua made Leask wait for his third, however, adding 37 for the 7th wicket before Leask straightened one into Kila's front pad on the first ball of the 35th. By then Vanua had his eye in however, taking on the left arm spinners putting the ball out of the park once in each of the 40th, 41st and 42nd overs, before bringing up a maiden ODI half-century in 48 balls, carving Gavin Main through backward point for a couple. A final flourish for Vanua brought up the fifty partnership with Soper, launching Evans out of the ground over long-on on the first ball of the 44th, but finally holed out next ball, miscuing a cross-batted slog and failing to clear Budge on the rope. Soper would press on with Damien Ravu however, again finishing unbeaten having lifted his side to 226-8 by the break.
Sensing an opportunity to break their 14-match losing streak in ODIs, PNG were relentless in the field and an early wicket for Kamau Morea set the tone for a difficult start for the Scots. Morea had struggled to find his line initially, serving up two wides in the first over, but the seventh delivery was picture perfect, full, angled across and swinging back in, through the gate and into the top of off to send Matthew Cross back for a duck. Coetzer and Calum Macleod found it tough to get the ball past the infield, and Coetzer was lucky to survive an appeal for LBW in the 6th over when Morea brought one back into his pads, only for the umpire to judge it to be swinging too far don leg.
The pair crawled to 25-1 by the end of the powerplay and were just beginning to accelerate when Soper bowled MacLeod with the fifth ball of the 22nd. Richie Berrington never found any fluency either, but Coetzer eventually found the measure of the bowling even if he brought up his half-century in less than convincing style, a thick edge off Ravu flying just wide of the keeper and running to the rope.
Milking singles and putting away the occasional bad ball, Coetzer and Berrington kept the asking rate below sixes, taking Scotland halfway to the target in the 30th over. It would take a very sharp bit of fielding to break the partnership, a rapid pick-up and release from mid off and a direct hit catching Berrington inches short of safety. It was Vala too that finally removed Coetzer for 81, the Scotland captain edging a sweep into the pad and the ball looping up for Doriga as the tide of the game seemed to shift once again.
Dylan Budge joined George Munsey with the game in the balance at 139-4 with 15 overs remaining. Coetzer's departure had arrested the momentum however, and Munsey, having restrained his aggressive instincts, fell victim to his own caution, checking a drive and popping up a low return catch which Morea held just millimetres from the turf. Budge and Leask kept the required rate under control with some aggressive running, but Soper would return to break the partnership on the last ball of the 42nd over, a full ball jagging back off the seam to strike Budge on the pad and draw the umpire's finger, to Budge's evident shock.
With 60 runs required from the last 8 overs and a long tail to come behind Mark Watt, Papua New Guinea looked favourites for perhaps the first time in the match. Leask and Watt approached the situation with due caution, but allowed the required rate to climb still further before Leask broke the shackles pulling Soper for four through midwicket in the 46th, to leave Scotland needing 32 off the final four overs. A woeful short ball angled down leg from Morea to start the 47th let Leask reduce that to 26, catching up to the ball to send it soaring over the rope at backward square, and another in the slot in front of leg got the same treatment on the final ball to bring the asking rate down to a run a ball.
Norman Vanua struggled on being asked to bowl a one-off over for the 48th, the ball slipping out of his hand twice, the second time in the direction of Watt's head, but he saw off the free hit and the rest of the over without conceding a boundary. Vala had bowling options open to him but took responsibility himself for the 49th, but five balls in Leask would make him regret it, dipping low in his stance to launch the ball over midwicket for six, the win, and two crucial points to add to the Scottish tally.
The win sees Scotland overtake the USA and move into second place on the League 2 table at 15 points from 11 matches, with five games in hand over both the Americans and their hosts Oman, who lead the pack with 24 points from 16 games. Papua New Guinea remain winless at the bottom of the table, but will have another chance to break their streak when they take on Oman on Friday. Saturday will see the Scots take on their hosts hoping to further close the gap at the top of the table in the final match of the tri-series, and likely the last League 2 match of 2021.