After handing a shock six-run defeat to England, the No. 1 ranked ODI team, Scotland will take on another No. 1 ranked side – Pakistan – in the first of the two-match Twenty20 International series at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh on Tuesday (June 12).
It will be a different format for Scotland, who will be pitted against a big team for only the fourth time in T20Is. Experience may not be on their side but the confidence they gathered on Sunday will surely have given them a huge boost. Incidentally, the hosts played their debut T20I game against Pakistan – a 51-run defeat in the World T20 2007 – but dwelling on this will be an otiose exercise 11 years on.
Pakistan are always a lethal side in the shortest format of the game. They have won nine out of their previous 10 T20I games, including a 2-1 away series win against New Zealand but Sarfraz Ahmed and his troops will likely not make the mistake of taking the home side lightly. Moreover, most of their players are already acclimatized to the conditions having been in the UK for a little over seven weeks now.
Keep your eyes on
The right-hander’s ability to take on the spinners might give Sarfraz a few problems as he likes to control the innings by attacking with spin in the middle overs. After smashing the English bowlers all over the park on Sunday, Macleod will be bustling with confidence. He uses the slog-sweep to good effect which might force Pakistan to tweak their strategy.
Barring the tour game against Leicestershire, the stylish opener has been carrying drinks for the best part of the tour. Zaman, who is a regular in Pakistan’s limited-overs sides, will be keen to make a mark here. His ability to go hard at the new ball will test the inexperienced Scottish attack.
The lanky fast bowler made a sound T20I debut against the Windies earlier this year. Aged 18, Afridi might be wet behind the ears but is already been tipped as the future of Pakistan. He will relish bowling in these conditions and will trouble the batsmen with his extra bounce. Pakistan will ideally want him to attack with the new ball and use his cutters and yorkers at the death.
Scotland will have the home advantage but they have won only one of the three games they have played at home. Despite their fairytale win against England, Pakistan will start as favorites due to their red-hot recent form in T20Is. It might come down to whether the Scottish batting can get going against the Pakistan bowling attack - a template that is familiar to anyone who has watched Pakistan in the limited overs formats in recent times.