T20 World Cup: Scots look to punch above their weight

Scotland are pushing their case to be the next full member. — Cricket Scotland Twitter
Scotland are pushing their case to be the next full member. — Cricket Scotland Twitter

Mumbai - They take on Afghanistan and hope to push their case to be the next full member

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Mon 25 Oct 2021, 12:27 AM

The brouhaha around established teams in an elite, multi-team/nation tournament overwhelms the attention on minnows whose participation is seen as a formality to make up the numbers. But it would be folly to complete discount the prospects of Afghanistan and Scotland in this tournament.

Upsets are not uncommon in limited-overs cricket, and the T20 format makes it even more topsy-turvy. Afghanistan being in the main draw here after only a few years of exposure at the international level is proof of that. Scotland getting through the qualifiers to make the cut this time highlights the unpredictability of T20 cricket even further.

How these two teams perform in the tournament has ramifications for all other teams in their group. Apart from the threat of an upset, even Net Run Rate could possibly come under purview to get into the knockout stage. So, no team can take these teams lightly.

But that is for later. On Monday night, Afghanistan and Scotland take on each other, and both will be striving to not just soak in the experience of being in the World Cup, but also take further the agenda of making cricket more popular in their respective countries. To that end, nothing serves better than excellence on the field, leading to a win in the scorebook.

As the two teams stack up, Afghanistan clearly enjoy the advantage of having played more international matches, while Scotland have played largely against associate members. That Afghanistan have won all six matches they’ve played against Scotland is a telling stat which the Scots will be conscious of.

From the skills point of view, Afghanistan also boast of players who’ve made a reputation for themselves by performing excellently against strong teams. Among these, leg spinner Rashid Khan stands head and shoulders above anyone else who will take the field on Monday night.

The diminutive bowler has made waves since the time he burst on the scene, and has been Afghanistan’s talismanic player, apart from being hugely sought after the world over, to play in T20 Leagues. Apart from Rashid, Mohammad Nabi is another player who’s cricketing calibre is widely respected. He bowls off-spin with great control, is a big striker of the ball, and fields brilliantly.

There are others too in the squad like Mohammad Shahzad and Mujeeb Ur Rahman who have rubbed shoulders with the best in the world, and will bring that experience and knowledge into this game. Scotland don’t have too many bragging rights in this respect, but that also means there is that much less pressure on them, which can be an advantage.

This was brought home with their fantastic win over Bangladesh in the qualifiers, which effectively opened up the passage into the Super 12. Scotland’s supporters will be hoping for a similar performance by their hardy team against Afghanistan.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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