Scotland 242/7 (Berrington 81 Coetzer 62 Pokana 2-40) defeated Papua New Guinea 204/9 (Vala 48 Ravu 38 Watt 2-43) by 38 runs

Scotland finish their four matches of the first round of World Cricket League Two with three wins, thanks to a well-paced knock from Richie Berrington and some tight bowling from their 5-man spin arsenal. Papua New Guinea won the toss and like Oman on Saturday, opted to put Scotland in to bat on a clear day in Aberdeen.

Kyle Coetzer, coming off a first ball duck against Oman, opened with the kind of impetus that he has consistently shown at the top of the order, racing to 20 solely in boundaries before partner Matthew Cross even scored his first run. The Scotland captain quickly adjusted his approach as the variable pitch claimed his first two partners. Nosaina Pokana got one to rise on Cross (8) to be caught in the gully, and Calum Macleod (9) was bowled by a ball that kept low from Chad Soper. Putting on a partnership with George Munsey, Coetzer slowed from his early strike rate of 150 to collect his 16th ODI half-century from 73 balls.

Munsey, batting higher than usual at #4, showed some of the application he lacked against Oman, playing himself in on the tricky pitch. But just as Munsey started to unleash his famous boundary hitting, Coetzer was unluckily bowled off an inside edge for a well-made 62, his third half-century in four innings in Aberdeen. Munsey played well for 35 but never truly got his attacking play off the ground, and perished with his first attempt to hit out, caught by Asad Vala in the deep.

Papua New Guinea managed to find breakthroughs at key moments in partnerships when each seemed to be flourishing, but Scotland seemed to be vindicated for their cautious approach to much of the innings as wickets in hand gave the lower order license to clear the ropes in the final overs. The lack of firepower from the top order was made up for comfortably by a late-innings six montage from Richie Berrington.

Berrington started his innings in the same vein as the top order, nudging singles and reaching 32 from 46 balls with just one boundary. But with seven overs left, he started dealing in sixes, a half-dozen of them in total, the biggest of which being a flat line drive that cleared long on by a comfortable 20 metres. He was eventually run out for 81 in the final over trying to reclaim the strike, his final 49 runs coming from just 18 balls with all of the boundaries being sixes. Short cameos from Tom Sole (5*) and Safyaan Sharif (4*) in the 50th took the Scotland total to 242/7.

On a pitch where Scotland comfortably defended 223 and no batsman has made a century in the series, the late flurry of runs turned what would have been a competitive total into a daunting one for PNG. Scotland’s defense got the perfect start as Sharif, playing for the second consecutive game as a lone specialist seamer, trapped Tony Ura LBW for a 7-ball duck. Captain Assad Vala came in at #3 and built steady partnerships with Gaudi Toka (20) and Lega Siaka (34), but PNG struggled to find the boundary, and by the time Siaka lost patience and was caught trying to hit Mark Watt over mid-off, the required run rate was nearly 6.5.

Consistent poor running with a few close shaves eventually cost PNG the wickets of Doriga (2) and Vanua (4), and Vala eventually fell trying to reverse sweep the part-time spin of Calum MacLeod, one of Scotland’s five finger spinners in action who shared 41 overs. But PNG saved face by managing to bat out the full 50 overs, mostly due to a 48-run partnership for the 9th wicket between Chad Soper (12) and Damien Ravu (38*). Ravu’s run-a-ball knock included four boundaries, one being a towering six off Safyaan Sharif that ended up on the adjacent road.

PNG’s respectable final total of 204/9 did show that Berrington’s late innings acceleration was perhaps the difference in the end. Scotland finish their four matches with six points, putting them first in the table for now. With only one match of this series remaining, the Barramundis will be hoping to open their account when they take on Oman on Wednesday, while a large victory for Zeeshan Maqsood’s side could see the Sultanate finish top of the table after one round of Cricket World Cup League Two.

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