Pakistan nudged past Scotland and clinched the first of the two-match Twenty20 International series by 48 runs at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh on Tuesday (June 12).
Electing to bat first, Sarfraz Ahmed’s career-best unbeaten 89 off just 49 deliveries propelled Pakistan to a tall total of 204 for 4. The visitors were off to a sluggish start before Sarfraz strung a 96-run stand for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik (53 off 27). Pakistan became the only team to post a total in excess of 180 for the fifth consecutive time after batting first in T20Is.
The odds were heavily stacked against Scotland during the mammoth chase of 205 as they were up against a high-quality Pakistan attack. Kyle Coetzer, the skipper, started intrepidly enough with a brisk 18-ball 31 and along with his opening partner George Munsey (25), took his side to 53 in five overs.
But after switching ends, Hasan Ali (2 for 33) broke the spirited opening stand with a peach of a delivery as Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief. Two overs later, Shadab Khan (2 for 25) castled No. 3 Richie Berrington off the first delivery of his spell to peg the visitors back. Wickets kept tumbling for the hosts as Coetzer and Calum MacLeod, the hero against England on Sunday with a majestic hundred, departed in quick succession, leaving their side tottering at 82 for 4 in the 12th over.
With the required run rate in the north of 15, Scotland were virtually out of the contest. The only consolation was a stroke-filled 24-ball unbeaten 38 from Michael Leask which entertained the crowd but didn't threaten Pakistan at any stage of the lopsided contest.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan found the going tough before Fakhar Zaman (21) and Ahmed Shehzad (14) gave Hamza Tahir, the debutant, a tough international initiation taking 19 runs off his first over. Shehzad, however, fell in the very next over to Alasdair Evans and Zaman followed suit 10 balls later, leaving Pakistan at a precarious 46 for 2 in the sixth over. Scotland tightened the screws and runs were hard to come by as Hussain Talat (18) struggled with his timing and Sarfraz, who promoted himself to No. 4, playing cautiously.
In a desperate attempt to force the pace, Talat perished in the 11th over with the scoreboard reading 87 for 3. Malik provided Pakistan with the much-needed impetus as he immediately got into his stride. He took a special liking to Tahir, smashing the left-arm spinner for 20 runs in the 16th over, the last one of his spell as the debutant finished with forgettable figures of 0 for 57 – the most expensive spell by a Scottish in a T20I.
Sarfraz too joined the party, reaching his first international fifty in 11 innings off 35 balls. Malik, on the other end, took full toll of the short boundaries smashing five sixes in his thunderous 27-ball 53. The duo exposed the inexperienced bowling attack and plundered as many as 80 runs in the final five overs of the innings. Sarfraz’s 49-ball innings was laced with 10 fours and three sixes. For Scotland, Evans was the pick of the bowlers returning with a tidy 3 for 23 off his four overs.
After the initial jitters, Pakistan were clinical in their approach, accentuating why they are the No. 1 ranked T20 side in the world. Scotland must have learnt their lessons and have less than 24 hours to rectify their mistakes.