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Scotland just gave the cricketing world something to remember its name for a long time to come. It went up against the number one ranked ODI team in the world, England, and managed to record its first victory over them in the format. It was a result that was nearly unimaginable even taking into consideration the improved performances that Scotland has been displaying off-late.
They now have another opportunity to make some waves as they host Pakistan for two T20 Internationals. T20 cricket reduces the difference between sides and allows the inexperienced sides to pull off upsets. Can Scotland, full of confidence, beat Pakistan and really make the cricketing world sit up and notice?
Beating Pakistan is not going to be an easy task, though, as the side is currently ranked 1st in the world. That may not stand for much if recent developments are anything to go by.
Scotland spoke about playing fearless cricket and embracing the occasion ahead of its match against England and that is exactly what it was able to do. Setting England a massive target of 372 and then holding on by 6 runs was a well-deserved result.
It also puts them in a great position to look forward to the matches against Pakistan.
Scotland does not play too much international cricket but it is now going to be playing the number ranked team in two formats in the space of a couple of days. The players also have a T20 series with Netherlands and Ireland to look forward to immediately afterward.
It is important that a strong core of its players is able to play consistently throughout these matches for Scotland to remain competitive. All of the players that were in the playing eleven for the match against England are also going to be a part of the T20 squad against Pakistan.
Scotland has been playing aggressively over the last few months and taking the game to the opposition. That approach has been showing dividends as players like Cross, Berrington, Munsey, Budge, and even Leask kept the scoring rate high even as they lost wickets.
Of course, the bulk of the runs will still have to come from Koetzer and MacLeod. Both the players are in excellent form and have the class to take on a dangerous Pakistani bowling lineup. One of the main threats that Scotland will have to overcome is that of the Pakistani spinners.
Shadab Khan is one of the world’s best at this format and has the variations to trouble their batsmen. Batsmen like Koetzer who can use his feet well, and MacLeod who is excellent with the sweep, will be required to be at their best.
Scotland also must recognize that unlike England, which is a very strong batting side, Pakistan can be sometimes more traditional in its approach to the game. This basically means that Scotland may not have to push itself to get huge totals and should back its bowling to put the Pakistani batsmen under pressure.
Scotland’s victory against England would have taken away one advantage that they had against Pakistan, though. The visitors will no longer be blindsided by Scotland’s players and will be in fact wary of falling to the same fate as England.
Kyle Coetzer, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington, George Munsey, Michael Leask, Dylan Budge, Safyaan Sharif, MRJ Watt, Alasdair Evans, Hamza Tahir.
A brilliant first test match against England was followed by a terrible second test match for Pakistan. They also had a poor first test match against Ireland to begin their tour. Now, they are going to be plying the T20 format for the first time on this tour against an opponent that will love nothing more than to take them down.
Pakistan, though, will be supremely confident of warding off the Scottish threat. It is currently the top-ranked team in the world and has a far greater experience of playing T20 cricket than the Scottish team.
The loss of Babr Azam to injury will be something that could hold back Ireland considerably in the upcoming series. Babar Azam is one of the most consistent batsmen to have come out from Pakistan in a long time and is particularly good at the limited overs format of the game.
The strength of this Pakistan team is its bowling. Led by Hasan Ali, Pakistan has its disposal pace, variety, genuine spin, and enough part-timers to fall back on in case the main bowlers are having an off-day.
Mohamad Amir will get some swing with the new ball and test the Scotland batsmen, Hasan Ali is effective with both the new ball as well as with his variations towards the death, Shadab Khan can spin the ball both ways and can be very difficult to pick for someone playing him for the first time, Rahat Ali gets excellent bounce off the surface, and Faheem Ashraf is pretty nippy as well.
Then there are the likes of Shoaib Malik, Mohamad Nawaz, and Haris Sohail, all of whom can contribute with the ball as needed. We would love to see Shaheen Afridi in the side as well but are unsure if he will be picked for the first match or not.
Clearly, Pakistan has the bowling to put the Scotland team under pressure. If, however, Scotland is able to withstand some of the early threat or is chasing a relatively gettable total then the bowlers could strive a bit too hard and lose their lines.
Pakistan must be wary of its batting. Ahmed Shahzad, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, and Sarfaraz Ahmed don’t make for the strongest of batting lineups. They will also be playing in Scottish conditions which will be different to what they are used to.
Even having been in the United Kingdom for a fair amount of time is no guarantee that they will be able to adapt to the kind of batting necessary. One thing that we think could happen is that Pakistan bats first and actually plays a bit too cautiously.
If there is anything that the last match played here has shown then that’s there are plenty of runs to be had in the surface.
Pakistan will go into this contest as the clear favorite but it cannot afford to be complacent.
F Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The Grange Club will once again play host to an international game this week. The pitch for the ODI against England was absolutely flat and excellent for batting, which is exactly what we think it will be like for this upcoming pair of T20’s as well.
The small boundaries make defending totals very difficult and a big over always seems around the corner.
The weather forecast for Edinburgh is pretty decent for the upcoming match. The chance of rain has been pegged at around 10% and so we are hopeful of getting a full game in without any interruptions.
An in-form side, odds of 5 to 1, and home conditions all make for a compelling case to back Scotland. Make no mistake, Pakistan is still the clear favorite and likely to win this match. We do believe, however, it is the smart play to back Scotland and maybe hedge your bet through in-play betting if you get the chance.
Also, it’s just more fun to root for the underdog!
Back Scotland to win.