In the five-day match final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup at Dubai, Scotland recovered from a poor start effected by some inspired Afghanistani bowling, to post a first innings total of 212 in 88.4 overs on Day 1 before shooting out the opposition for 171 in 60.1 overs on Day 2, and extending their lead by 105 runs with 4 wickets in hand.
Batting first, Scotland got off to a dreadful start, losing opener Preston Mommsen for 3 with just 9 runs on the board. Afghani seamer Hamid Hassan got the initial breakthrough along with his new-ball partner Shapoor Zadran kept up the pressure. Just one over later, Scotland lost its other opener David Watts for 5 when Zadran struck. Then in the 9th over, with the score at a shaky 19/2, Hassan returned to remove one-down batsman Kyle Coetzer for an 8-ball duck.
Then middle-order bats Richie Berrington and Neil McCallum counterttacked and put up something of a partnership before Berrington was dismissed by pace bowler Mirwais Ashraf for 29 and the Scots were further in trouble at 51/4 in the 22nd over. The rest of the middle-batsmen couldn't offer much resistance with Gregor Maiden, Mathew Parker, Majid Haq and Gordon Drummond all heading back to the shed for single digits. Ashraf accounted for two wickets, while Hassan and Zadran returned to ensnare one each. Scotland were in shambles at 97/8.
Meanwhile, McCallum who was desperately waiting for some support found a stable partner in Simon Smith. The two took the fight to the Afghani bowlers, fending them off and keeping the scoreboard ticking. Before the Afghanis knew what had hit them, the batting duo took Scotland past 100, then 150 and then past 200.
But Smith who had played out 115 balls for his 36 finally fell to a resurgent Hassan and Scotland were looking at the bottom of the barrel at 204/9. Last man Ross Lyons was not able to hold out much and gave Hassan his fifth wicket as Scotland folded for 212, with McCallum stranded on an unbeaten 104.
In reply, Afghanistan's innings started in a more positive fashion, but it lost Shabir Noori for just 11 when he was bowled to Parker in the 3rd over. Afghanistan would have felt the pressure at 13/1, but the other opener Karim Sadiq and allroudner Mirwais Ashraf batted with character to take their side to 54 before Ashraf was out to Haq for a pacy 21.
In the 21st over, Sadiq too ran out of steam and was lbw to Berrington for 34 with Afghanistan wobbling at 76/3. Berrington accounted for the wicket of Mohammad Shahzad a few overs later as well, and Afghanistan were in trouble at 89/4. The other batsman Nawroz Mangal, and new batsman Asghar Stanikzai took their side to over 100, before the latter was packed off by Haq for 26. The score was at a precarious 132/5.
Mohammad Nabi couldn't give Mangal much support and was dismissed by Mathew Parker for 1. Samiullah Shenwari stuck around to watch Mangal reach his half-century. But the latter's stand of 56 came to an end in the 53rd over and Afganistan were 165/7 when a latter-order collapse ensued and the side was bowled out for 171. Scotland had earned itself a crucial lead of 41 runs.
Scotland's second innings was almost as disastrous as its first. The openers put on 22 before Samiullah Shenwari accounted for Preston Mommsen's wicket for 9. The same bowler got rid of the other opener Fraser Watts for 26 and Scotland were in some distress at 41/2 in 15.1 overs.
Kyle Coetzer was the next to depart for 11 thanks to a runout and the Scots were tottering at 55/3. On the same score Shenwari returned to remove Gregor Maiden for 4. Neil McCullum, the centurian from the first innings, just added a duck to the scoreline and Scotland were reeling at 55/5 in 28.5 overs. Then, middle-order batsmen Richie Berrington and Mathew Parker played out the last few overs of the day to take Scotland to 64/5 at stumps with a lead of . Then Parker went for a 27-ball duck and Scotland ended the day on a pitiful 64/6 with a lead of 105.
An exciting day appears to be in the offing tomorrow. Afghanistan will look to finish of Scotland's second innings, so that they they can hopefully set themselves a short chase, while Scotland will be aiming to bat for as long as possible and extend their slim lead further.