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Scotland still fighting for their form

Scotland remains on course to progress to the knock-out stages of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 following a straightforward eight-wicket victory over Canada in Edinburgh on Thursday.


The host team is now well placed in third position in Group B, ahead of Oman on net run-rate and just one point behind Afghanistan and Kenya. Having previously lost two matches, Scotland was in a precarious situation and desperately needed a strong performance against the Canucks.


Indeed, the Scots are still not home and dry. They have played one more game than their nearest rivals, Oman and the Netherlands and still have to play the buoyant Omanis, who have already beaten the Dutch and the Afghans this week.


The top six sides from this tournament will join the 10 Full Members for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, which will be held from 11 March to 3 April next year. The sides that top the two groups will automatically qualify for the mega event, while those that finish second and third in each of the two groups will play cross-over matches with the two winners joining the table-toppers in India. The teams that finish fourth in the group stage still have a chance to qualify via the play-off but the three bottom teams in each group are out.


Having been invited to bat first, Canada got off to a good start and put on 24 runs at a brisk rate before losing the big-hitting Ruvindu Gunasekara in the third over for 19. From there it was a steady procession of Canadian batsmen to and from the middle with the best partnership ending up being an unbeaten one for the ninth wicket, when Navneet Dhaliwal (34 not out) and Junaid Siddiqui (28 not out) added 48 in just less than five overs to give their team something to defend.


As it turned out, 135 never looked like a winning total as Scotland openers Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod went after the Canadian bowling from the start. MacLeod was dismissed for a 15-ball 29 (three fours, two sixes) and it was clear the home batters had no intention of using the full 20 overs to knock off the runs. Matthew Cross has been in good form with the bat during the tournament so far and he made 21 before being caught behind by Hamza Tariq off the bowling of Satsimranjit Dhindsa. Cross’s replacement George Munsey was in no mood to hang around, either, and hit 33 off just 12 deliveries with Coetzer (51 not out) carrying his bat at the other end to make sure the target was reached with minimum fuss.


Afterwards, man of the match Coetzer was pleased with the performance and highlighted the opportunities that come with the congested nature of Group B. He said: “Our group is wide open with each team beating each other so it’s important we got that result today. From a personal point of view, it’s nice to contribute. We have some guys who have really contributed and played some great innings so far in this tournament so it was nice to do one for the team today.”


With Oman next, Coach Grant Bradburn knows there is still a lot of work left to be done to make sure of remaining in this tournament. He said: “We’ve been following Oman’s games closely. We came down and had a little look at their big game against Afghanistan so we know them well. We’ll do our scouting as we do with all teams. We’ll look at them in depth.


“But I think most importantly, we have a nice feeling in our camp too and I think we have a lot of match-winners throughout the order who are all putting up their hands and taking turns to bring the game home. Today was Kyle’s turn and I know there’s a lot of other hungry individuals looking to play well at the sharp end of this tournament.”


With so many teams in contention in Group B, there is a good chance that places could end up being decided by net run-rates. That being the case, making sure not only of victory but also of a quick one was clearly something Coetzer and his batting partners were bearing in mind.


“Yes, run-rates have hurt us in the past so we have been very conscious of finishing these games as quickly as we possibly can to give us every chance possible,” he said.


Tomorrow, the action in Group A moves from Belfast and Bready to Dublin with Malahide taking over from the Grange in Edinburgh as the television venue for the remainder of the tournament.


Today’s scores:

At Goldenacre: Canada 135-8, 20 overs (Navneet Dhaliwal 34 not out; Josh Davey 3-36, Alasdair Evans 2-25)

Scotland 139-2, 14.4 overs (Kyle Coetzer 51 not out, George Munsey 33 not out; Satsimranjit Dhindsa 2-27)

Scotland won by eight wickets


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