MacLeod’s T20I best leads Scotland to dominant win over Bermuda

Scotland produced their first convincing performance of the qualifiers under the lights at Dubai as they made easy work of an out of depth Bermuda side. Choosing curiously to bowl first on a reasonably flat wicket, Bermuda got off to a strong start as Scotland looked tentative and reminded everyone of their batting struggles in recent matches. Normally explosive openers Kyle Coetzer and George Munsey only managed one boundary between them in the opening four overs, before Coetzer, on his return to the side, holed out to depart with the score on just 19.

Oli Hairs, also on return to the side, came to the crease and showed some of the boundary-hitting he had been selected for, as the Grange pair dealt solely in fencefinders for a few overs, before Hairs fell trying to hit his fourth six for a quickfire 23 from 11 balls. Calum MacLeod then joined Munsey, and inversed their reputations as he took on the role of aggressor in the partnership. Bermuda became sloppier in the field and with the ball, and several loose balls allowed MacLeod to accelerate and even overtake Munsey’s score from half the balls faced.

Munsey brought up his 5th half century in T20Is with an enormous six off Rodney Trott, but fell the next ball as he grazed a pull straight to short fine leg, where Onias Bascome didn’t have to move to take a sharp catch. But by this point, MacLeod had got a read of the pitch and was motoring, helped by a simple dropped catch by Bascome when he was on 41 and some gifts by the bowlers. Delray Rawlins bowled some tight lines for his initial overs, but lost all radar in his fourth as he sent down several boundary balls including a shoulder-height full toss that was homered long into the crowd by MacLeod.

Berrington played a strong cameo alongside, hitting four boundaries including an excellent lofted on drive to reach 34 unbeaten. MacLeod beat his previous T20I high score in the final over, but fell on the last ball in comical fashion, paddling a premeditated sweep of an incredibly wide ball directly to short fine leg. After struggling past a run a ball for the first five overs, Scotland reached 204/4, a score well above par for the match, but also one that their misfiring batting lineup badly needed for confidence.

Scotland’s Calum MacLeod made his highest T20I score. (ICC)

If anyone was to take on this chase for Bermuda, it’s their T20 starlet Delray Rawlins, and after Safyaan Sharif made two early breakthroughs, including an incredible grab off his own bowling to dismiss Terryn Fray, Rawlins was thrust into it. He was given a gift, however, by some bizarre team selection by Scotland. Earlier in the day it was revealed that Tom Sole, the off spinning allrounder, had been found guilty of a suspect action, and was banned from bowling with immediate effect. Scotland’s named XI seemed to be one reliant on him bowling, and despite there being ample time to switch him for reserve opener Michael Leask, he played anyway, ultimately neither batting nor bowling. This meant that Scotland would have to find four overs from their top five, and only Richie Berrington is recognized at all as a bowler.

Rawlins immediately pounced, hitting Berrington’s first two balls to the fence, and forcing him to fluff his lines and offer up two wides in an opening over that went for 15. The next one went bigger, with two enormous sixes taking Berrington to 32 from two overs, and Rawlins to 29 off 13. When he hit the first three balls of Hamza Tahir’s second over for four, accelerating to 42 from 16 balls, the impossible suddenly seemed possible. But at the other end, Scotland were limiting his partners, with Mark Watt bowling Allan Douglas with a beauty, before Alasdair Evans accounted for Onias Bascome as the he tried to repeat a tennis forehand that he’d nailed for six the previous ball.

Scotland’s Safyaan Sharif was too good for Dion Stovell. (ICC)

The pressure became too much for Rawlins, needing to do almost all the scoring on his own, and he mistimed a Mark Watt full toss straight in the air soon after. With the game gone, the Bermudan batsmen focused on batting out overs, as Kamau Leverock found a partner in Sinclair Smith to see out the 20 with an unbeaten 9th wicket partnership of 45. Leverock also got a slice of Berrington, hitting a grand six off his third over, before taking to Safyaan Sharif in the death to end with a valiant unbeaten 43, the final score ending on 158/8 with the winning margin being 46 runs.

Bermuda remain winless in the competition despite moments of competitiveness, and Scotland claim their first comfortable win which, despite a truly bizarre piece of selection that gave Bermuda a strong sniff at a chance, showed good performances from most of their key players.

A scorecard of the match can be found here.

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