Another draw for Scotland
In what is one of the longest (in terms of distance) away trips in sport, Scotland travelled to Port Moresby to take on Papua New Guinea in the Intercontinental Cup, the game coming to a conclusion today after the scheduled four days play.
Home team captain Asad Vala won the toss and chose to have Papua New Guinea bat first. They lost Tony Ura for 3 in the fifth over, but a 51 run partnership for the second wicket between Vani Morea and Lega Siaka kept them on track.
The partnership ended when Morea was out for 53, and number four Assad Vala was out for a duck two balls later. Siaka and Sese Bau put on 73 for the fourth wicket, Siaka scoring 48, and Bau reaching 51 before he was the fifth man out.
By the end of the day, Scotland would have felt they had the edge, with the hosts on 253-7 at the close. However on the second morning, they were frustrated by Chad Soper and Norman Vanua, who took their partnership to 93 before Soper was out for 60.
Vanua finished as their top scorer with 64, whilst number 10 Damien Ravu, on first-class debut, further frustrated Scotland with 32. The final total for PNG was 404, with Safyaan Sharif the pick of Scotland's bowlers with a first-class best 4-94.
Scotland also made good use of what was evidently a fantastic pitch to bat on. George Munsey scored 53, with Calum Macleod chipping in at the top of the order with 49. The backbone of the innings though was provided by Richie Berrington, who batted very patiently throughout.
Berrington was unbeaten on 29 as Scotland closed day two on 189-4. He batted for another two and a half sessions on the third day, taking his score to 129 after a mammoth 297 ball stay at the crease. As with the home team, there were some frustrating innings down the order, with Micheal Leask scoring 58 at number seven, and number nine Mark Watt unbeaten on 61 as Scotland closed day three on 482-9.
The tenth wicket eventually put on 65 to take Scotland's total to 514, Watt finishing unbeaten on 81. The total was Scotland's highest ever total in first-class cricket, the previous record being the 489 they scored against Ireland at Paisley in 1954. It was their second highest in all cricket, the record remaining the 537-5 scored in a non-first-class three-day game against the MCC at Titwood in 1991.
The run scoring continued in the Papua New Guinea second innings, with a second wicket partnership of 126 between Tony Ura and Lega Siaka which ended when Ura was out for 75. Siaka top scored with 83, whilst Assad Vala scored an unbeaten 61 before he and Kyle Coetzer agreed to end the match early with no prospect of a result.
The two teams will now meet in two World Cricket League Championship matches on Friday and Sunday, which will be the first home ODIs for Papua New Guinea. Two wins for the hosts will secure their place in the World Cup Qualifier, whilst two wins for Scotland will likely do the same, though they will still depend on other results.
The next match in this round of Intercontinental Cup matches will see Hong Kong host Afghanistan in two weeks time. In the final round, Scotland will play old rivals Ireland, whilst Papua New Guinea will take on Hong Kong.