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.
"It was a collective effort by us today and a great achievement," said Wright after the match. "The bowlers made it much easier for us to go out and get the runs. I'm excited about my man of the match but we have to look to tomorrow, keep up with our positive attitude and move as a group for our game against Ireland."
Scotland now need to win both of their remaining group matches to progress to the Super Four stage. "I think credit should be given where it is due," said Hamilton, the Scotland captain. "The USA bowled well with the new ball and our batting wasn't up to the standard against them. Every game is now a must-win. We're going to have a look at the team tonight and we may well have to do a bit of a reshuffle in the side for our game against Afghanistan."