RICHIE Berrington, the Greenock batsman, stroked a maiden First Class century as Scotland claimed a position of genuine strength in their Intercontinental Cup clash with UAE in Sharjah yesterday.

Berrington's superb 110 helped the Saltires establish a first innings lead of 205 to raise hopes of outright victory.

Despite a late fight-back from the Arabs who reached 74-2 at the close, Scotland remain strong favourites to notch their first win of the campaign during the weekend.

Gordon Drummond's men had already claimed the bonus points on a first day dominated by the bowlers.

However, Berrington, supported stoutly by Simon Smith, changed the complexion of the match as the batsmen fought back on day two.

The pair dug in to add 99 runs during the morning session with Smith recording his first international half-century.

His 54 helped take the sting out of the UAE attack as batting looked a less fraught business than it had been twenty-four hours earlier.

Smith faced 131 balls and stroked seven boundaries but, perhaps distracted by the extended Friday lunch interval, was out shortly after the resumption.

However, there was no stopping Berrington who edged closer to three figures during a 55-run partnership with Calum MacLeod.

The latter was beginning to look set on 19 when he became one of six Scottish lbw victims as the UAE left-arm spinners Fayyaz Ahmed and Ahmed Raza continued to cause problems.

Berrington was certainly wary of the danger they posed, playing out a maiden over from Raza while stuck on 99.

He waited for his moment to pick off the single that took him to the landmark which came from 230 deliveries and included thirteen fours and two sixes.

Berrington added one more maximum before being last man out with the lead in excess of 200.

Faizan Asif launched a counter-attack in the final session, hitting a rapid 46 before being bowled by skipper Drummond, while Preston Mommsen also claimed a wicket thanks to an excellent catch by Freddie Coleman to keep the Scots on top.

However, despite enjoying the initiative, coach Pete Steindl is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "There is a lot of cricket still to be played and we will have to apply pressure in the field tomorrow.

"We're delighted to have the lead and both Richie and Simon deserve great credit for the way the played.

"Richie fully deserved his first First Class century because he played to his strengths and showed great character. Hopefully it will be the first of many."

However, Steindl added: "To be honest, it has probably been an even day because after dominating the morning it wasn't our plan to lose five wickets in the afternoon.

"UAE then got off to a bit of a flier before we clawed it back towards the end."

The Scots still enjoy a lead of 131 runs and spinners Mommsen and Majid Haq will hope to force victory on day three.