Scots ready to break the Afghan spell

Scotland, joint winners with The Netherlands in the ICC World T20 qualifiers, is upbeat about its chance against old adversary Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Hamid Hassan (second left) will look to restrict the Scots in the second Group B match in Nagpur on Tuesday.   -  AP

Scotland has never won a T20 game against Afghanistan and may find the old adversary a little too hot to handle this time too, when they clash in the second Group B match in Nagpur on Tuesday. The latter’s pace trio comprising Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran packs quite a punch, touching the 140 kmph mark quite often.

The batting prowess of Gulbadin Naib, whose 68-ball unbeaten 82 helped Afghanistan clinch a recent ODI series against Zimbabwe, and Najibullah Zadran’s strike rate of 139.5 could whip up a heady cocktail.

Afghan pacers Vs Kyle Coetzer

To counter Afghanistan’s pace might, the Scots will turn to Kyle Coetzer. The right-hand top order batsman slammed an unbeaten 156 against Bangladesh in last year’s ICC World Cup, the highest by a player from an associate nation. Free of the mantle of captaincy, his batting has bloomed. The 70 he notched up against Hong Kong recently is his highest T20 score.

High morale

To finish joint winners with The Netherlands in the ICC World T20 qualifiers, Scotland won four successive matches enroute to the final. With recent wins against Hong Kong and Netherlands under its belt, the morale of the side, coached earlier by Paul Collingwood, should be high.

Scotland’s coach Grant Bradburn is quite upbeat about his boys. “We have an excellent mix of youth and experience across the squad, with every player offering dynamic specific skills in this format. India presents a huge challenge for the team. However, it also presents a fantastic opportunity which we are all looking forward to,” he said.

Scotland’s skipper Preston Mommsen was equally affirmative. “We have another opportunity to show the world what we're about. We've got a good group and have a realistic potential of making it through to the next round. We need some things to go our way but we're certainly playing for a place in the next round.”

The teams (from):

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (v-c,wicketkeeper), Noor Ali Zadran, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan.

Scotland: Preston Mommsen (captain), Kyle Coetzer (vice-captain), Alasdair Evans, Calum MacLeod, Con de Lange, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Josh Davey, Mark Watt, Matt Machan, Matthew Cross, Michael Leask, Richie Berrington, Rob Taylor, Safyaan Sharif.