Scotland and Hong Kong were still coming to grips with the fact that they had been knocked out of the World Twenty20 after the first two first-round Group B games. Scotland did a better job of it, winning its first-ever match at an ICC event, when it went past the rain-revised target for an eight-wicket win.
Both the teams had been outplayed by Zimbabwe and Afghanistan to end up with a dead rubber at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. But the teams were gung-ho about it in what was a rare appearance for them at a big stage.
But rain meant that the match on Saturday (March 12) was reduced to a ten-over affair. Hong Kong made 127 for 7 from 20 overs before the day’s longest rain stoppage, and Scotland had the target revised to 76 from ten overs, which it crossed with two overs in hand.
Hong Kong’s bowlers, the spinners in particular, were in control during Scotland’s chase, but they had no answers to Matthew Cross, who slammed a 14-ball 22.
Though Cross’s innings failed to get Scotland over the mark, Kyle Coetzer (20 not out) and Matt Machan (15 not out) guided Preston Mommsen’s team to 78 for 2 in eight overs.
The eight-wicket win would have come as a huge relief for Scotland, which put an end to its 19-match losing streak in world events.
Earlier, Tanwir Afzal’s decision to bat first backfired with the Scotland’s bowlers dramatically reducing the pace on the ball. The pacemen snuck in a few quick ones from time to time, but for most part they preferred the slower deliveries. What worked in their favour was that this time, unlike in the games against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, they were able to hit the short length that batsmen struggled to pick on this pitch.
This pitch, although a fresh one, was spinner-friendly; it showed signs of turn from the start and it remained a consistent factor throughout the game. Mark Watt and Con de Lange, the left-arm spinners, weren’t going to miss out on making the most of conditions as helpful.
Watt returned figures of 1 for 21 from four overs, while de Lange had 1 for 19 from his quota. Machan, the part-time off-spinner, also benefited and finished with 2 for 26. Machan’s returns, however, had more to do with how poorly the middle order read the surface.
The only batsman in Hong Kong’s ranks who worked around this predicament was Mark Chapman. The 21 year old, who failed in the first two games after arriving at the tournament with a big reputation, wasn’t comfortable at the start but he eased his way into the innings and made a 41-ball 40.
Anshuman Rath’s 23-ball 21 too helped their cause but it was Nizakat Khan who gave the crowd something to cheer about with two massive sixes en route a 10-ball 17.
With three balls left in the innings, it began to drizzle and intensified before coming to a halt after half an hour. Play resumed at 9.35pm and the three balls helped Hong Kong to seven more runs to go with the 120 it had on board before the delay.
The innings break was brought down to ten minutes from the usual 20 and the teams came on to get the second innings underway before the rain came down again.
When play resumed, the task seemed a tough one on a wicket as slow, but Scotland’s batsmen showed that with a bit of sense, a fair sprinkling of boundaries and a lot of running, you can get the job done.