MacLeod's bizarre 99 guides Scotland home
Scotland 177 for 6 (MacLeod 99* ) beat Canada 176 (Gunasekera 53) by 4 wickets
Calum MacLeod missed the chance of a hundred in bizarre circumstances but found joy all the same in his unbeaten 99 as Scotland took a step closer to World Cup qualification with a four-wicket defeat of Canada in Ayr.
Scotland chased them a target of 177 in 42.1 overs, and took a step closer to the World Cup by overtaking UAE and moving into the second qualification spot.
MacLeod would have had a chance for his century, was it not for an errant overthrow from a Canadian fieldsman, when the wicket keeper thought the game was already over.
He said afterwards: "I was delighted with the team performance out there, and I've been fortunate to contribute in both ODIs, T20s and CB40s. Qualifying for the World Cup is the main goal, and it's been a terrific job by the Ayr groundstaff this week to get the pitch playable."
This was no ordinary praise for the groundstaff. It was a relief for both teams to finally to get a cricket match underway after the four-day Inter Continental Cup match at Uddingston last week was completely washed out, and the two one-day internationals suffered a switch of venue and cancellation on three occasions.
On the last possible day of play the sun was shining at Cambusdoon in Ayr. The ground staff had been working full time here for over a week just to make this game possible. Understandably, Scotland chose to field in the sunny, but damp conditions.
Canada staggered to 177 all out in the last over, with Ruvindu Gunasekera providing the only real resistance with 53 before cheaply giving his wicket away.
Canada's opener Hiral Patel was trapped lbw early on by Alisdair Evans who was the pick of the opening bowlers. The gangly figure of Gunasekera produced some big if unorthodox shots and was the only Canadian batsmen to reach fifty, making 53 from 75 balls before he was stumped off the off-break bowler Majid Haq.
It was a youthful Canada batting line-up. Nitish Kumar, 18, in at No 3, failed to live up to his reputation and was caught behind off the bowling of Josh Davey for just 9. Zeeshan Siddiqi steadied the ship, but was in danger of grinding Canada to a halt, as he stole most of the bowling at a strike rate of less than 50.
Along with Damodar Deasrath he stopped the flow of wickets but allowed the Scottish bowlers to take control. Canada struggled to rotate the strike with the arrival of spinners Haq and Preston Mommsen who managed to pin down the run rate.
Canada's frustration eventually told. Siddiqi played a handful of erratic shots before trying to make room to cut the ball and chopping on, to the delight of the Scottish fielders. This was followed by a succession of three run outs, each due to miscommunication from the batsmen who could not decide whether they wanted a single or two, and then found themselves stranded in the middle.
It all led to Scotland's wicketkeeper Craig Wallace being involved in five wickets, with Haq bowling his allocated 10 overs for just 19 runs and taking two wickets.
Scotland's chase did not get off to an ideal start. They lost Northants' batsman Kyle Coetzer in the second over when he played a flashing cut to a short ball, only to be taken by a great catch from Usman Limbada at backward point. This brought Davey to the crease at No 3 and he nudged and pushed the singles and rotated the strike along with MacLeod who despatched the ball to all corners from an early stage.
MacLeod was the anchor of the Scottish innings as his team-mates came and went around him. It really was a solo performance as no other Scottish batsmen managed to get over 25.
The pace bowling of Durand Soraine was expensive but yielded two key wickets. But Canada's batting performance did not give their bowlers much to defend, and as such they were chasing wickets from an early stage. Scotland were always ahead of the run rate.