Zimbabwe 171 for 4 (Raza 58*, Sole 3-36) beat Scotland 169 (Coetzer 61, MacLeod 58, Cremer 5-29) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball updates
'Maybe we needed to lose first game' - Cremer
Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer talks about the importance of their defeat to Scotland in the first ODI and how it helped the team stage a comeback and level the series in the second game
Zimbawe's spin-bowling attack capitalized on an overeager batting approach with captain Graeme Cremer's 5 for 29 doing the bulk of the damage to wipe out Scotland for 169 in 42 overs. Sikandar Raza's composed half-century anchored the Zimbabwe chase to clinch a six-wicket win for the tourists at the Grange with 78 balls to spare. It meant the series finished deadlocked at 1-1, with hosts Scotland failing to complete a landmark series win against a Full Member team.
When Cremer had Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer stumped for 61 in the 22nd over, it seemed at the time to be a minor speed bump with Scotland comfortable at 106 for 2. But when Calum MacLeod was bowled six overs later by Sean Williams for 58 - while exposing his stumps on an attempted back foot punch - the floodgates were opened and Cremer raided the middle order for his second five-wicket haul.
Williams' figures might appear understated on the scorecard after he ended with 2 for 26, but he played a crucial role - coming on in the fourth over - after Zimbabwe's opening pace attack was battered by Coetzer for three fours and a six to race to 27 for 0. Williams began with a maiden to Matthew Cross, thereby foreshadowing the role that spin would play to reel Scotland's scoring rate back under control. Cross continued to struggle, trying to get Williams away in the sixth, but the pressure resulted in him backing away for a carve to the off-side only to see his off-stump sent cartwheeling.
Coetzer and MacLeod added 71 for the second wicket as Williams came off once the Powerplay concluded. The pair milked Chris Mpofu's medium pace for easy runs and Coetzer soon reached his eighth ODI fifty off 45 balls in the 15th over. His innings ended soon after though, when he stepped down the pitch to flick Cremer through the leg side, only to miss it completely and the wicketkeeper Peter Moor did the rest. MacLeod carried on to notch his third ODI half-century in the 25th when he cut Raza's offspin through point for back-to-back fours. But when MacLeod fell in the 28th to Williams, it triggered a collapse that saw Scotland lose their last eight wickets for 34 runs.
Richie Berrington first walked too far across his stumps before missing a flick as Cremer trapped him lbw in the 29th over. Then, a miscued flick to mid-off by Con De Lange, to start the 31st, put Cremer on a hat-trick and he completed the over gaining his second lbw decision, although the dismissed Preston Mommsen appeared to be struck quite high.
Rather than go into a shell at 141 for 6 in 31 overs, having just lost 4 for 6, Scotland kept the faith in coach Grant Bradburn's mantra of maintaining aggressive intent. But wickets fell regardless. The always adventurous Craig Wallace stayed true to form by going for a reverse sweep against Cremer but missed and the stumps were rattled once again to give Zimbabwe's captain his fifth scalp.
With Williams' quota done, Raza came back to help wipe out the tail. Josh Davey was lbw prodding forward before Alasdair Evans edged behind as the ninth wicket. Raza and Cremer were done with their bowling quota by the 41st, but the captain stayed with spin by tossing the ball to Ryan Burl to bowl his first over in ODI cricket. The over concluded with Burl's maiden scalp to end the innings as Chris Sole missed a swipe across the line to be bowled for 2, leaving eight overs unused and Michael Leask stranded on 11, the only player outside the top three to reach double-figures.
Zimbabwe were required to bat 45 minutes before lunch was taken and, like Scotland, got off to a hot start in their first few overs before Sole, who began his spell with 11 dot balls and two wickets - gave them a scare. With the score at 30 for no loss after four overs, Sole struck with his first ball, snaring Solomon Mire with a gloved pull for a leg-side catch to Cross. He then tested Hamilton Masakadza early in the seventh over with the short ball too, until the opener fell fending a catch at backward point to make it 31 for 2.
Sole prised out one more before the interval - the short ball working again - as Williams creamed a cut but picked out backward point to make it 44 for 3 in 10.3 overs. The break, though, arrived at the right time for Zimbabwe and they came out far more assured when play resumed with Craig Ervine and Raza adding 55 runs for the fourth wicket.
Scotland's chances of defending the total were severely hampered when vice-captain de Lange bowled just two overs before leaving the field after completing the 17th over. The left-arm spinner had taken his maiden five-for in the first ODI but Coetzer said after the match that de Lange could not continue due to a migraine headache.
With de Lange out, MacLeod was brought on to bowl part-time spin but was ineffective, finishing with 0 for 21 in five overs. Davey bowled a controlled spell of medium pace at the other end in a bid to keep pressure on and managed to beat Ervine driving for 30. But Raza continued on with Burl, teaming for a 72-run stand to seal victory. While Burl finished unbeaten on 30, Raza struck the winning boundary through midwicket to end on an unbeaten 58 for his seventh ODI half-century.
Zimbabwe leave Sunday morning for the Netherlands where the first of three one-dayers takes place in Amstelveen on June 20, before they continue on to Sri Lanka for the start of a five-ODI, single-Test tour beginning June 30. Meanwhile, Scotland's home summer fixture-list is over before the arrival of the June 21 solstice. Their next series isn't until October, when they tour Papua New Guinea for two ODIs in the WCL Championship and a four-day Intercontinental Cup match.