Scotland slumped to a four-wicket defeat in the first of their two World Cricket League meetings with the United Arab Emirates in Sharjah on Wednesday. The tourists' top order subsided in worrying fashion against the disciplined UAE attack and, despite briefly hauling themselves back into contention when their opponents began their reply, Gordon Drummond's team were always going to find it difficult to defend a tally of 167.
The result undermined what has thus far been a successful winter for the Scots, but they were in trouble almost from the moment they lost the toss and suffered a poor start, first slumping to 31 for 3 and then 93 for 6, as the likes of Kyle Coetzer (17) and Preston Mommsen (27) showed positive intent, only to perish when they seemed to be gaining control. They were further hindered by three run-outs, but there were signs of a fightback when Craig Wallace and Majid Haq added 56 for the seventh wicket, with Wallace amassing 40 from 74 balls, including three 4s and a 6, while the more experienced Haq chipped in with 30 before he was run out. At one stage, Scotland looked as if they might advance to a score of around 190 or 200, but they lost their last four wickets for just 18 runs and the Emirates were by far the happier side at the mid-session interval.
Drummond's personnel realised that the only way to turn matters round was to seize early wickets and, to their credit, Gordon Goudie and Safyaan Sharif responded in terrific fashion in reducing the UAE to 35 for 4, with the hosts' cause being hindered by the run-out of their influential skipper, Khurram Khan for just one.
However, a patient partnership between Shaiman Anwar and Swapnil Patil helped steady the ship, as they regrouped and resisted the Scots' endeavours to make fresh inroads. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective, and they knew they could afford to eschew the flamboyant approach, given the paucity of their target. Both batsmen eventually posted half-centuries and ensured that their team continued their recent fine form in the competition, which had previously seen them record creditable victories over Afghanistan.
Their stand reached 82 before it was broken, with Anwar caught by Goudie off the bowling of Richie Berrington for a pivotal 58, but Patil carried on in meticulous fashion and was assisted by Vikrant Shetty, who made 25, as the UAE reached their objective with more than two overs to spare.
Patil remained to the death, his 55 interestingly being scored at a strike rate of 55.55, and although the Scots could take heart from their bowling effort, once again there was a frailty about their batting performance, which indicated that they will need to regroup quickly if they are to square the series in the second contest between the countries on Friday.