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USA 121 for 4 (Wright 62, Cush 41) beat Scotland 120 for 7 (Hamilton 41, Darlington 2-19, Dhaniram 1-12) by six wickets
A 97-run partnership between Carl Wright and Lennox Cush helped USA to an unexpected six-wicket victory over Scotland in the opening game of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers at Abu Dhabi.
Coming together after the early loss of Sushil Nadkarni, the pair compiled their runs at better than a run-a-ball to guide USA to within striking distance of victory. Wright struck eight fours on the way to a 57-ball 62, and Cush was no less enterprising, with three fours and a six in his 41.
Wright's dismissal, trapped lbw by Jan Stander with victory in sight, sparked a mini collapse as three wickets fell for no runs. Cush picked out Richie Berrington off Ryan Watson's medium pace, and Timroy Allen - the hero of USA's thrilling one-wicket win over UAE in the warm-ups - fell without scoring as USA slipped to 114 for 4. But Sudesh Dhaniram and captain Steve Massiah played a calm hand to ensure no further blips, sealing the win off the first ball of the 20th over.
Though Wright thoroughly deserved the Man-of-the-Match award for his match-winning half-century, the victory was set up by a solid team effort from USA's bowlers, who took the pressure off their batsmen by pegging Scotland back.
Usman Shuja began in superb fashion, getting rid of the dangerous Kyle Coetzer with his second ball. Orlando Baker then bowled Navdeep Poonia before he could get going, and Rashard Marshall and Wright combined to run out Fraser Watts and reduce Scotland to 42 for 3 in the ninth over.
Dhaniram kept the reins on the middle order with an extremely frugal spell, conceding just 12 runs in his four overs and picking up the vital wicket of Gavin Hamilton for 41. Stander's bright cameo lifted Scotland's score in the closing overs, but a target of 121 was never going to be a stern test, even for USA's brittle top order.
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.