Willie Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
CALUM MacLeod produced a match-winning innings but fell just one run short of a maiden ODI century as Scotland ended their long wait for action by easing past Canada at sun-kissed Cambusdoon yesterday. The Saltires had been idle since June 4 but they brushed off the cobwebs to claim two valuable points in their quest to book a place at the 2015 World Cup.
This win takes them into second place in the eight-team table from which the top two will automatically claim the big prize and, while they have played two games more than third top UAE, their fate is in their own hands.
After restricting the Canadians to 176 on a slow but remarkably good track, the Scots had MacLeod to thank for completing the job. The Uddingston batsman, attracting the interest of Northants, produced easily the best innings of the day on his way to a first ODI half-century.
MacLeod saw the early loss of opening partner Kyle Coetzer with just six runs on the board but his stand of 92 for the second wicket with Josh Davey put the Scots on course. Davey contributed just 23 of them before being bowled by Durand Soraine while Gordon Goudie weighed-in with a rapid 17 in his mid-innings pinch-hitting role.
However, MacLeod compiled the one innings of substance in his best ODI performance to date. Using the sweep shot to particularly good effect, the 23 year-old ensured that Scotland took full advantage of the power-play to post 71-1 from the first fifteen overs – 22 more than their rivals. MacLeod's half-century came at almost a run-a-ball and included eight boundaries and, while his rate of scoring slowed, MacLeod made sure he was there to guide his team home.
Indeed, he looked set to reach three figures, having moved to 98 when an overthrow rather anti-climactically presented him with his final run and the Scots with a four wicket victory with 46 balls to spare. His 99 came from 127 balls and included twelve boundaries.
Earlier Scotland produced a workmanlike performance in the field to restrict their rivals to little more than three runs an over. Ali Evans led the way with a lively new-ball spell that was rewarded with the wicket of Hiral Patel, trapped in front.
However, there was spirited resistance from the Candians and particularly from Ruvindu Gunasekera. The tall left-hander was quick to seize on any loose deliveries, hitting both Evans and Goudie for early boundaries.
Davey came in harsher treatment at the hands of Gunasekera who bludgeoned the Middlesex bowler over the deep square leg boundary. Davey recorded record ODI bowling figures of 5-9 on his last appearance at this ground against Afghanistan but his first over alone went for eight runs. He did recover to claim the wicket of Nitish Kumar who was caught behind by Craig Wallace.
However, at 55-2, Canada had a platform from which they must have expected to score in excess of 200. There was even the ironic sight in this wettest of summers of a short delay while Gunasekera complained about the glare from the poles of the sightscreen at the scoreboard end. A coat of paint seemed to satisfy the batsman who continued to put the Scots on the back foot, claiming his second maximum with a prodigious hit over extra cover off Gordon Drummond.
Gunasekera went on to complete a fine 69-ball half-century which included five boundaries in addition to the sixes. However, he was teased out of his crease soon after by Majid Haq and Wallace completed the stumping. Zeeeshan Siddiqi kept the score ticking over with a patient 43 before he became Haq's second victim after hitting his own wicket.
Haq recored excellent figures of 2-19 from his ten overs but Scotland's cause was aided by some chaotic Canadian batting as the visitors slipped to 176 all out, losing their last three wickets to run-outs.