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September 12, 2007
Just like Ireland before them at the 50-over World Cup, Scotland punched well above their weight against a strangely listless Pakistan at Kingsmead, but a devastating allround show from Shahid Afridi and some penetrative quick bowling from Umar Gul eased the path to a comfortable 51-run victory. When Pakistan slumped to 50 for 3, and again when Fraser Watts played some punishing shots at the start of the innings, there was a glimmer of an upset, but Younis Khan's 41 and Afridi's intervention with the ball ensured that there was no danger of that ignominious Sabina Park defeat being reprised.
Watts made a brilliant 46 from just 35 balls before his attempt to wallop Mohammad Hafeez out of the ground flew to Imran Nazir at short third man. By then, Afridi already had the wickets of Gavin Hamilton and Neil McCallum, both to slogs into the deep, and when he added the scalps of Dougie Brown and Colin Smith, the contest was effectively over. Craig Wright, the former captain who had starred with 3 for 29 added 14 with the bat, but with Gul's yorkers proving lethal, the last few overs were a formality.
A one-sided rout certainly wasn't on the cards early on, with John Blain bowling an outstanding first spell that was well backed up by the fielders. Dewald Nel, born in South Africa, played his part with a second-over maiden to Salman Butt, and the pressure built up costing Nazir his wicket as he hoicked Blain to deep cover.
Butt struggled to put the ball away during his 13, and Blain was once again the delighted bowler as he glanced a delivery straight to the man stationed at short fine leg. Hafeez played a couple of lovely shots behind the wicket, and with Younis playing himself in, the initial nerves appeared to have disappeared. But Ryan Watson, the Scottish captain, kept ringing the changes cleverly, and the introduction of his predecessor proved an inspired one.
Hafeez bunted one back, and Wright's reflexes were sharp enough to latch on at the second attempt. Suddenly, memories of St Patrick's Day came flooding back and it took some powerful strikes from Younis and Shoaib Malik to restore sanity to the proceedings.
But Scotland still had a sting or two left to inflict, and the first came from an individual of Pakistani origin who works as a delivery man. Majid Haq beat Malik in the flight, and Smith, the policeman, pulled off a smart stumping.
Enter Afridi, and sixes over midwicket and long-on - brushing the fielder's fingers - but after rollicking to 22 from just seven balls, he replicated Butt's dismissal, popping a full toss to short fine leg. And when Younis's knock of 41 ended with a heave off Haq that only found the deep fielder, Pakistan faced the dismal prospect of not batting out their overs.
Kamran Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq, the man who replaced Mohammad Yousuf in the squad, ensured that that wouldn't happen with some punishing strokes in the final stages. Wright ended Misbah's bright cameo with a full delivery and Akmal also holed out for 16, giving the Scottish supporters plenty to cheer, but 172 was well beyond the ambit of their batsmen against bowlers of the quality of Gul, Mohammad Asif and the man of the moment, Afridi.
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