Pakistan 166 for 6 (Malik 49*, Fakhar 33, Leask 3-31) beat Scotland 82 (MacLeod 25, Faheem 3-5) by 84 runs
Another T20I masterclass from Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik propelled Pakistan towards a series win against Scotland, thumping the hosts by 84 runs in the second T20I at the Grange. Under overcast conditions with a light drizzle threatening to interrupt the game for most of the match, Shoaib exploded – much like the first game – in the last few overs, smashing five sixes as he blitzed 49 off 22 to help Pakistan surge to 166.
Unlike Tuesday, Scotland were never quite in the hunt for this one, losing George Munsey off the third ball, and never quite managing any momentum that might suggest a real contest could be on the cards. They were untidy with their running, rushed with their strokeplay and generally uncomfortable in the face of a sensational Pakistan in the field. It was a much improved bowling performance from the visitors, spearheaded by Usman Khan, who came in for Mohammad Amir, and registered figures of 2-0-4-2. Scotland began to fall away rather dramatically towards the end, with no less than three players run out as Kyle Coetzer’s men were bundled out for 82.
There was some drama before the start, with Cricket Scotland officials and the television production team locked in an argument over using a fresh pitch for this game. The TV crew were concerned their cameras couldn’t be in line with the bowler at one end of the pitch, the result being a slightly askew broadcast angle from the Pavilion End. It’s the sort of drama people associate, sometimes patronisingly, with cricket on the Associate landscape.
But Scotland wouldn’t have wanted the haphazardness to extend to their on-field performance. Pakistan got off to a flying start again, though Scotland were unfortunate not to have Fakhar Zaman out in the first over. Chris Sole extracted both an outside and an inside edge in the first six deliveries, the former put down in the slips, the latter narrowly missing the stumps. Both went for four. Sole had bowled an excellent first over, and conceded 12 runs.
Shehzad and Zaman put on 60 for the first wicket, but Scotland, just as they had done in the first game, struck back in the middle overs. The runs were restricted right up until the last two overs, with batsmen unable to kick on from starts in the face of tight, disciplined bowling from Scotland’s bowlers, particularly Mark Watt and Michael Leask.
But Shoaib Malik came to Pakistan’s rescue once more, with a whirlwind last two overs, scoring 32 of Pakistan’s 34 runs as they turned a slightly below-par score into an imposing one of 166. He was put down at the end of the 19th over on the long-off boundary, a simple catch that Leask failed to hold on to. Just as Tuesday, the drops cost Scotland dear in the field as Shoaib went on to score 14 in the final over, leaving Scotland to ponder how to improve their fielding against a quality opposition like the one they faced today.
The pitch looked no worse than the one used on Tuesday, where 200 seemed about par. But the change of pitch today meant the long-on/ midwicket boundary from one side of the ground was 10 meters larger, and shots that would have comfortably carried over the ropes on Tuesday were being caught inside the boundary on the field, including a spectacular tag-team catch and relay effort from Dylan Budge and Watt to claim Sarfraz at deep square leg. That restricted Pakistan to the relatively modest 166, and made it arguably a more searching chase than the previous one might have been.
However, at no stage of the Scottish innings did their batsmen begin to establish any sort of relationship with the boundary rope. Pakistan circled around them in the infield, and the pitch looked a fair bit faster when the Pakistan bowlers were operating on it. Usman isn’t a regular starter for Pakistan, but when in form, almost always seems to make a match-winning difference. He hurried on to the batsmen, and as the rain began to get slightly heavier, the Scottish mood began to match the Edinburgh weather. They could do little more than shuffle around for ones and twos and get the odd boundary, but it was never nearly enough to challenge the ever-rising asking rate.
It was unfortunate to see the home side losing their heads towards the end, with a couple of unnecessary run-outs easing Pakistan’s way to an inevitable win they didn’t need any help with. Calum MacLeod was the man at the other end for all three of Scotland’s run-outs, but you’d be hard-pressed to blame him for any of them, what with the Pakistan fielders prowling, looking to save every run as the asking rate bounded out of sight. Faheem Ashraf came back to polish off the last two wickets, giving his figures a shiny new look by the end, having taken three wickets for five runs.
By the end, Pakistan’s dominance was so absolute, it was easy to forget the strides Scotland have made over the past few years. It would be harsh to focus on the manner of the defeat, and more prudent to reflect on the professionalism with which Pakistan have moved on from a Test series against England to a T20I series in Edinburgh, never letting their focus waver, and fielding a full-strength team when several others might have chosen to rest players. It was apt respect to pay to a side that has very much earned it over the last week.