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Scotland came agonizingly close to qualifying for the World Cup 2019 as it performed brilliantly in the qualifiers. It tied with Zimbabwe, beat Afghanistan, and should have beaten the West Indies but a poor LBW decision cost them the match and their place in the World Cup. Now, the team will once again regroup and try win some of the high-profile matches lined up this summer. First up for Scotland is the number one ODI team in the world, England.
England has gone from being a joke in this format to being a powerhouse thanks to the new style of play they have adopted since 2015. Eoin Morgan and his team will be wary of the Scots, though, as they have nothing to lose in this contest.
All the talk around how close Scotland came to qualifying for the World Cup could act as a distraction for the host that need to accept the new realities of World Cricket. Kyle Coetzer, the Scotland captain, and its most inspirational player has also accepted that his team needs to win more high profile matches to stand out.
The task in front of Scotland is very difficult. In fact, while the home team may not think of this as a mismatch, the difference in quality between the two teams is stark. Scotland is outclassed in every single aspect of the game by England and while upsets are expected in T20 cricket, ODI cricket shows up the difference between teams of different standings.
Still, Scotland must go into this game with hope. They beat Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in ODI’s recently and also tied another match with Zimbabwe. Scotland also brushed aside Sri Lanka with ease although that match was not an official ODI.
A couple of players will have to have the game of their lives if Scotland has to even dream of upsetting England. One of those players is going to Kyle Coetzer. He will be playing his 50th ODI and is capable of scoring the big hundreds.
The other player that we are excited to watch is Calum MacLeod. An aggressive top-order batsman, MacLeod can start quick and continue to hit the boundaries during long innings. He will be one of the danger men that England will be trying to take out quickly.
Runs will also be needed from the likes of Berrington, Cross, and Munsey. These are the five batsmen that we think are capable of providing a challenge to England. Behind them, there is very little batting and anything more than a cameo from the lower order will be a bonus.
As thin as the Scottish batting is, its bowling is even thinner. Safyaan Sharif and Brad Wheal will be the bowlers that have to do most of the damage. Both these bowlers had a good tie in the qualifiers but repeating that success against arguably the most dangerous batting lineup in the world is going to be very difficult.
Scotland does not have any real fast bowlers or a mystery spinner to try and prise out wickets in the middle. If Scotland is unable to pick quick wickets with the new ball then we could see its bowlers chasing leather as the innings progresses.
Kyle Coetzer, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Dylan Budge, Richie Berrington, George Munsey, Michael Leask, MRJ Watt, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Alasdair Evans.
England’s firm focus is on the upcoming ODI series against Australia that is expected to be hard-fought. Since that series follows immediately after this match with Scotland, England will be using this is a warm-up of sorts.
That is probably why they have decided to go in with a full squad and will play their first choice eleven. Choosing an English playing eleven is a tough task these days because of the quality of their squad. Every single player in its lineup is a capable player and pushing for a place.
England has chosen a 13 man squad for Scotland, choosing to rest Jos Buttler and Tom Curran before the series against Australia. Sam Billings makes his way as the replacement wicketkeeper in the lineup.
One of Alex Hales/Jason Roy will have to sit out because we think Jonny Bairstow is a lock for the other opening slot. Similarly, England is going to have to choose two out of Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, and David Willey because Chris Woakes is an absolute certainty in the side.
England’s strength has been its batting as the side posts scores above 300 with astonishing regularity. In fact, England’s captain has spoken many times publicly about how he does not believe that 300 is a par-total in most ODI contests anymore. 330 or even 350 looks to be on most times that England bats first.
England is blessed with big hitters like Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, and Moeen Ali while players like Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, and Dawid Malan are expected to play the longer innings. We believe that Joe Root is the lynchpin of this team. He had an excellent time in the ODI series in Australia where he scored fifties in almost every game.
Root only needs to start converting his starts and fifties into centuries to be considered an ODI great. Even without that, though, he is excellent.
Some pressure will also be on Sam Billings, Dawid Malan, and the fast bowlers to perform. These are the players that are sure to be replaced or put under pressure once the entire first-choice squad is assembled.
Remember that Ben Stokes has not been included in the ODI scheme of things right now but that is surely not going to last too long.
England has some excellent depth in its bowling as well. Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid, and David Willey are all excellent ODI bowlers. Moeen Ali has also come leaps and bounds in recent times and can be depended upon to bowl his full quota of overs. With the likes of Joe Root also available to roll his arm over, England has plenty of options on which to call upon.
JJ Roy, Jonny Bairstow, AD Hales, JE Root, Eoin Morgan, Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, David Willey, LE Plunkett, AU Rashid, M Wood.
The Team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The weather is almost always a little gloomy in Scotland and the current forecast suggests we could see some rain stoppages. Hopefully, the interruptions will be short and not affect the number of overs to be played.
The pitch at the Grange Cricket Club is generally flat and a little on the slower side. The last match played here was between Scotland and Zimbabwe which was a low scoring affair. We suspect things could be different if England gets a chance to bat first in this game.
A score of 300 should be considered par.
Scotland is currently available at odds of 8.5 to 1 as we write. These are phenomenal odds and expectedly England is available for a very small profit. We still cannot advise you to bet any money on Scotland because nothing that we have looked at suggests that they have a chance. Yes, funnier things have happened in cricket but we have to play the percentages.
Back England to win.