Scotland Brush Off PNG In Tri-series Opener

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Scotland brush off PNG in tri-series opener. [File picture] Matthew Cross set up the chase with a 75-ball 70

Scotland Brush Off PNG In Tri-series Opener[File picture] Matthew Cross set up the chase with a 75-ball 70

Scotland resumed their CWC League 2 campaign with an assured 6-wicket victory over the still-winless Papua New Guinea in the first match of the seventh League 2 trilateral series at Muscat, chasing down PNG's 197-run total with seven overs in hand. Keeper-opener Matthew Cross set up the chase with a 75-ball 70, while Calum MacLeod's 45 kept the Scots in control through the middle overs before George Munsey saw them comfortably home. Papua New Guinea were in trouble early after being invited to bat, the Scottish new ball pair of Safyaan Sharif and Ali Evans both striking early, before left arm spinner Hamza Tariq broke the back of the innings with three consecutive middle-order wickets. Chad Soper and Damien Ravu staged a late rally to get the Barramundis close to the 200-mark, but the 198-run target would pose little challenge for the Scots' top order.

Sharif got Scotland off to a fine start, making the most of the swing on offer early and finding a shade of away movement and taking Tony Ura's outside edge with his fifth ball. Evans didn't settle to his task quite so quickly, the first ball of his third over met with a fine back foot square drive from PNG skipper Asad Vala that raced to the rope in front of point before Lega Siaka too struck back to back fours, but Evans would have the last laugh as Siaka was rapped on the back pad by a full pitched inswinger and looked up to be met with a raised finger.

Vala sought to pull the momentum back together with Charles Amini, runs continuing to flow in the powerplay, but Gavin Main produced an inswinger that Amini's drive and crashed into the base of off stump on the full in the tenth over to leave PNG at 59-3 as the field spread. Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer looked to his left arm spin pair of Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir to turn the screw, Watt generating pressure with dot balls from over the wicket at one end and Tahir providing threat from the other.

The first of Tahir's three would come in the 16th over, Sese Bau top edging a slog-sweep and Ali Evans tearing in off the rope at cover point to hold a low catch diving forward. Tahir added the scalp of Vala in the 19th, pushing it across from around the wicket and the PNG captain prodding at it, and edging through to cross. Jason Kila would get off the mark forcing the ball for four behind point, but edged to MacLeod at first slip looking to repeat the shot three balls later, victim to an excellent one-handed catch that Macleod seemed to pull from a yard behind him.

Coetzer brought back the seamers looking to finish things off, and Ali Evans nearly delivered, a back of a length delivery drawing a timid fending edge from Doriga through to Cross and Chad

Soper surviving a vociferous LBW appeal next ball. Soper would survive however, and together with Norman Vanua weathered the rest of the spell. add 20 for the eighth wicket. Gavin Main's return ended the partnership, the first ball of his second spell cannoning into Vanua's pads of the full in just front of leg stump, and given out to the surprise of all, but Soper and Ravu would take combine to take the match into the death overs.

The pair would finally counter-attack in the 46th, taking 18 runs of Safyaan Sharif. Ravu would hole out off Main in the 37th over for 32, and Soper got to within one shot of a well deserved half-century, a French cut for four through fine leg across the stumps off Sharif in the 48th taking him to 45*, but his luck didn't last. Taking the single off the second ball of the 48th proved a mistake, Sharif tempting number 11 Nosiana Pokana into the drive with a slower ball outside off and finding the outside edge, and Cross would gather to leave Soper stranded on 46*, PNG all out for 197.

Neither Nosiana Pokana nor Vanua managed to replicate the lateral movement with the new ball that Sharif and Evans had found in the morning, and the Scotland openers Coetzer and Cross would add 57 without loss in the first ten overs, both playing confidently off the back foot, cutting anything wide and happy to drive the ball on the up. Cross dominated the scoring early, Damien Ravu coming in for particular punishment when he came into the attack for the last over of the powerplay, an attempted bouncer barely even pushing Cross onto the back foot, pulled away over midwicket for six. Two more short balls followed, and both were pulled away for four as Scotland passed the fifty-mark.

The introduction of spin did little to slow the scoring, taken for seven in his first over, but Chad Soper would find the breakthrough in the 12th, first inducing a thick outside edge from Coetzer that flew just wide of the diving Doriga, before getting his man with the next ball, back of a length and pulled straight to Siaka short midwicket. Calum MacLeod joined Cross, who completed his half-century working Amini into the on side for one in the next over. The scoring slowed somewhat with the field spread but the pair continued picking off bad balls and working singles as PNG looked increasingly short of ideas.

Lega Siaka's part-time legspin proved a poor gamble when Vala threw him the ball for the 22nd, Cross and Macleod taking 12 off the over as Scotland moved to three figures. And it wasn't until Vala himself came on that the second wicket fell. By then Cross looked to be tiring in the heat, and Vala put an end to his innings on the first ball of the 28th, drawing him forward and beating the bat, the back foot lifting just enough for Doriga to take the bails.

With the score at 137-2 and 32 overs remaining Scotland looked set to cruise home, but PNG would not make it easy for them. Vala would strike again in the 32nd, a little extra bounce inducing Berrington slice a cut to gully, and Soper would have MacLeod smartly caught behind off an inside edge five overs later, finishing as PNG's stand-out bowler as well as high scorer with figures of 2-20. Yet the dismissal prompted George Munsey to come alive, having faced ten dot balls struck his next two from Vala for four. Together with Dylan Dudge Munsey would wrap up the match with seven overs to spare, whipping a full toss from Vanua off his pads and over the rope for six to end unbeaten on 27 from 32 balls and secure two crucial points for Scotland.

The Scots will have two days to recover before facing Oman on Tuesday, while Papua New Guinea will be back in action against the hosts tomorrow.

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