Did someone replay the Australia versus Bangladesh game, the last game to be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium? It certainly felt like so. Except Scotland scoring 12 more than Bangladesh’s 73, courtesy of a good start by George Munsey in the first couple of overs, everything went akin to Australia’s thumping of Bangladesh in Match 34. Likewise, India romped to an eight wicket win, boosting their net run-rate, elevating it to the best in the group.
“About time I win a toss”, said Virat Kohli to Dale Steyn when he met his former IPL teammate while walking for the toss. The birthday luck rubbed on the Indian skipper’s dreaded fortunes with the toss when the coin finally landed in his favor for the first time in this World Cup. Kohli had no hesitation in opting to bowl.
The first boundary of the day gave little peek into things to come. George Munsey whipped a miscued yorker from Jasprit Bumrah in a shot he would remember for lifetime. He then reverse swept Varun Chakravarthy for a four next over, clearing his intentions.
Munsey piled up three consecutive fours against Ravichandran Ashwin in the fourth over, getting under the off spinner’s skin a little. Kyle Coetzer was already out by this streak but 25/1 is a reasonably good start after being out into bat first at this venue.
But all the expectations came crashing in the next three overs. After a two-run over from Varun, Mohammad Shami delivered a wicket maiden. Munsey handed catching practice to Hardik Pandya at mid-on. The fizz from Scotland’s innings walked back to the hut with the left-hander.
Heading into this tournament, Scotland had been one of the better Associate nations in terms of facing spin bowling. They have not shown it in this World Cup, now averaging 15.9 in the tournament against tweakers. Ravindra Jadeja was at helm derailing their already off track innings further. His first over, the seventh of the innings, resulted in two wickets.
Richie Berrington, who had fond memories of facing the India attack when he struck a match-winning hundred for Scotland against India A in 2010, was bowled for a duck. Wicketkeeper Matt Cross was pinned for a nine-ball 2. From 25/1 in four overs, Scotland skid to 29/4 in seven overs.
A brief partnership between Michael Leask and Calum Macleod followed but once Jadeja dismissed Leask with the Scotland scorecard reading 57, they couldn’t recover. Shami’s third over - 17th of the over - brought them down to 81/9. Sandwiched in a team hat-trick, Safyaan Sharif’s run out, where he aimlessly ran down the track to run himself out, spoke for Scotland’s perplexed frame of mind. Bumrah ended their misery, bundling their innings for 85 with another bowled dismissal. Five of Scotland’s dismissals were bowled. Jadeja, the Player of the Match, returned figures of 3/15 at an economy of 3.75.
India needed to chase it down in 11.2 overs to get a net run-rate boost of +1.000. Chasing it down 8.5 overs would have taken them past New Zealand’s net run-rate. India chased it down in 6.3 overs to get to +1.619, the best in the group.
After a decent 8-run first over by the ever economical Mark Watt, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, particularly the latter, pounced on any opportunity on offer. Scotland pacers, bereft of pace to trouble the Indian batters, offered a number of full deliveries to make things easier for the Indian openers.
Rahul picked three fours of Brad Wheal’s first over and welcomed Laurie Evans with 10 runs off his first two balls. The door was opened and there were precisely two fours and a six every over until sixth over by when both openers were dismissed, but putting India within 4 runs of the target.
The two added 70 runs in five over. Rohit was out LBW for a 16-ball 30 to Brad Wheal. Rahul followed six balls later, scoring 50 off only 19 deliveries. Suryakumar Yadav finished it off with a six in his only scoring shot.
“We spoke about finishing in the 8-10 over bracket. You don't want to go in with six-and-a-half or a seven-and-half run mark because then you're doing too much. We gave that bracket and allowed them to get that momentum,” said skipper Kohli scored 1 off the two balls he faced.
Like it happened to Australia, India have bolstered their chances of a qualification. The catch for India is that they still need Afghanistan to defeat New Zealand fo this net run-rate boos to take effect.