Cricket is a great leveller they say and Scotland realised it when they slumped to a 84-run defeat against Pakistan at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh on Wednesday (June 13). The home side's phenomenal six-run win over England in the lone One-Day International on Sunday seemed like an aberration and so very long ago as Pakistan stifled them in all three departments of the game to take the two-match Twenty20 International series 2-0.
Pakistan, after choosing to bat first again, were in a spot of bother at 104 for 5 in 15 overs before Shoaib Malik's unbeaten 22-ball 49 lifted the visiting side from the doldrums and propelled them to a par score of 166. In an attempt to eke out as many runs in the Power Play, Scotland lost wickets early and were five down with nine overs gone. They were eventually bowled out for 82 in 14.4 overs.
Fakhar Zaman (33) and Ahmed Shehzad (24), the openers, laid a solid foundation for Pakistan as they took their team to 54 for no loss in the Power Play. But, like yesterday, both frittered good starts and fell in quick succession leaving the middle order to consolidate in the innings. Fresh from a career-best unbeaten 89, Sarfraz started imperiously and was very busy at the crease even as Hussain Talat was struggling for timing at the other end.
Just when things started to brighten up for Pakistan, Dylan Budge, in combination with Mark Watt, produced a blinder at the deep square-leg boundary to cut short Sarfraz's essay in the middle for a 13-ball 14. The introduction of Michael Leask (3 for 31), the off-spinner, stalled Pakistan's momentum further as he sent Talat and Asif Ali in the 14th over besides snapping Shehzad's wicket earlier.
It was down to Malik to not only resurrect the innings but also hit the big shots to take Pakistan to a total of respectability. He smashed Leask for a six over his head to get going in his innings and then got stuck into Safyaan Sharif, taking the fast bowler for 19 runs in the penultimate over which included two sixes and a four - his first and the only one of the two-match series where he amassed 102 runs in two innings.
Malik added 54 runs for the sixth wicket alongside Shadab Khan, who made a run-a-ball 17. The 36-year-old bludgeoned two more sixes off Chris Sole in the final over of the innings to take his tally of sixes to 10 in the series and lifted his side to 166 for 6 in 20 overs.
Chasing 167, Scotland were pegged back early when Usman Khan (2 for 4) removed George Munsey for a duck in the first over. Richie Berrington, who replaced Munsey, quickly reached 20 but played one shot too many to become Faheem Ashraf's (3 for 5) first wicket. Kyle Coetzer (1) couldn't find any rhythm and departed in the fifth over as Scotland huffed and puffed to 30 for 3 in six overs.
With the top order back in the shed, all hopes were pinned on Calum MacLeod, who played charily as wickets tumbled around him. He was involved in as many as three run outs as the inexperienced Scottish team were forced to press the panic button by the No.1 ranked T20I side in the world. MacLeod finally fell for a painstaking 27-ball 25 to a desperate slog in the 15th over but the game was already well out of Scotland's reach. For Pakistan, Usman and Faheem were the pick of the bowlers, returning with figures of 2 for 4 and 3 for 5 respectively. Shadab chipped in with four tidy overs to return with 1 for 19.