As has been pointed out, the margin between success and failure for Associate nations is incredibly small. On a rainy afternoon in Harare, the margin of difference between West Indies and Scotland was a mere five runs. One hit, if you will. But those five runs booked West Indies' place in next year's World Cup, while Scotland's next opportunity on the world stage is not quite so clear-cut. Chasing 199, the rain arrived with Scotland 125 for 5 in the 36th over to divide the fate of the two teams.
"We feel pretty rough right now," said Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer after his team's narrow DLS defeat. "There's a bit of emotion going around. The guys are absolutely gutted. They're sat upstairs right now, and finding it pretty tough at the moment. It's not the way we wanted to end the tournament but we look back and it's five runs... it's just five runs. And it's something pretty important that could have happened there."
Scotland have been one of the most watchable teams of the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, going undefeated through the group stage. But their last two matches have seen crucial umpiring decisions go against them. Against Ireland, Andy Balbirnie was given a reprieve on an lbw shout that looked adjacent, and he went on to hold Ireland's innings together with a century. Against West Indies, Richie Berrington was controversially given out lbw to a delivery from Ashley Nurse that appeared to be heading down the leg side, setting Scotland back just before the rain arrived.
"Clearly that lbw decision is not sitting very well with us right now," said Coetzer. "It's not the first one in this tournament. In a competition like this, it comes down to a big game like that. Two critical moments in two critical games have potentially cost us. So we're not feeling too flash right now."
With no Decision Review System in place for this tournament, Scotland were unable to challenge either decision. While the lack of DRS in today's match ultimately ended up benefiting West Indies, their captain Jason Holder pointed out, quite rightly, that the availability, or otherwise, of reviews was not under his control.
"That's beyond my control," Holder said of the lack of DRS. "I think it's a question for the ICC. At the beginning of the tournament, they set up the rules, and those are the rules we played with. It's cricket. Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you.
"A lot of the games weren't televised. So if you're being consistent, if it wasn't there at the beginning, you stick by it."
Despite his obvious disappointment, Coetzer insisted he was proud of his team's performance through the tournament. Fast bowler Safyaan Sharif currently tops the wicket-taking charts, with 17 dismissals at 13.94, and their only defeats came against Ireland and West Indies.
"I couldn't say any more for our guys," said Coetzer. "They have been absolutely outstanding. There's obviously been a lot of pressure on them. There was extreme pressure today, with pretty much the whole world barring the West Indies wanting us to turn them over, for what we feel is for the good of the game. Try and make a scene and get us into that World Cup. But it wasn't to be today."
Coetzer's disappointment stood in stark contrast to Holder's relief at having secured West Indies' passage to England next year. Holder said that a collective effort had been key to West Indies' success.
"Definitely relieved," said Holder. "Coming into this tournament, being here for the first time in a qualifier, we knew what was at stake. And I was really pleased with how the guys responded. We really came together as a squad and everyone put their heads together and tried to do what's best for West Indies cricket and what's best for ourselves. I can't see two or three individuals dominating. It was a strong collective effort in every game. That's a strong sign of a good side. I'm really relieved and pleased."
Scotland will leave this tournament having won over many new fans, and impressed even more with their development as an exciting and dangerous limited-overs side. With the World Cup in England and Wales limited to 10 teams, and only two qualifying spots available, several teams were always going to leave Zimbabwe with their hopes dashed.
"We had the full backing of every Associate nation behind us today," said Coetzer. "Everyone was wanting us to turn over the West Indies. But it was not to be. It's hard to comprehend that there's only going to be a 10-team World Cup. After all the hard work we've done, it's a rough one to take. It's a tough pill to swallow right now."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town