“I just knew if I bowl the right line and hit my yorker, it’s going to tail [in], and luckily once again I managed to hit that yorker and got that wicket” – Sharif © Getty
After the heartbreak of not having been able to qualify for the World Cup, Scotland marked their return to competitive cricket with a historic six-run win over England on Sunday (June 10). Chasing 372 in the one-off ODI, England came so close, but it was Safyaan Sharif, who ended their hope of pulling off a grand heist as he trapped Mark Wood leg before with a brilliant yorker to ensure Scotland’s win – their first against England.
Scotland were on the receiving end of a poor leg before decision in their five-run defeat to Windies earlier in the year at the Qualifiers in March, which had them eliminated from the World Cup. Yet, when they played their first game of the year outside the tournament, they proved just why the ICC’s reduction of the World Cup to ten teams was a mistake, notching up their highest ODI score. Sharif, who was their man of the moment, said their performance spoke for itself.
“I’m not going to say anything,” Sharif said. “They’ll have seen it all today so hopefully they’ll click onto that.
“I mean England’s a brilliant side, everyone knows that, and to get a victory, scoring 370 against a top quality side, means the world to Scotland, so well done once again. It was just an incredible effort from the lads, they’ve just proven once again that they are capable of playing at this standard, and they did really well throughout the innings. Up top, it was tough in the second half but we managed to pull things back and did the job, so really… I’m lost for words, I don’t know what to say.”
England were on track to scale the total down thanks to a brilliant century from Jonny Bairstow (105 off 59), but that Scotland’s bowlers kept chipping in with timely wickets, set them back consistently. Liam Plunkett, towards the end, almost saw his side through with an unbeaten 47, but a yorker to Wood took Scotland over the line in a thriller.
“I just knew if I bowl the right line and hit my yorker, it’s going to tail [in], and luckily once again I managed to hit that yorker and got that wicket, which was an absolutely great feeling to get over the line,” Sharif said. “I’ve been working hard on [reverse swing] towards the end of an innings and we managed to get that wicket there. It’s unbelievable.”
“We knew it was tough. The wicket was good, it was a fast outfield, we just needed to keep bashing our lengths, keep mixing it up and we’ll get the wickets, and luckily we did,” he said. “It means a lot to the crowd and a lot to us. We’ve been waiting so long for this victory and we managed to do that today with the positive attitude that the lads brought into the game, so well done.”
Calum MacLeod’s unbeaten 94-ball 140 gave Scotland the impetus to post a strong total. Kyle Coetzer, Scotland’s skipper, acknowledged his team’s ability to bounce back from their disappointment earlier in the year to put up a performance like they did at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh, after having suffered three losses and a no-result against England prior to this.
“I was extremely proud first of all, but it is a trait we are starting to get very, very good at,” Coetzer, Scotland’s skipper, said. “With ball in hand, we’ve been very good over the last few years, and especially coming off the back of Zimbabwe, this being our first game of the year, it’s been an outstanding performance.
“Look, 371 played 365, it’s an outstanding game, bowlers found it hard on a flat wicket with small boundaries, but it’s great to be this side of the fence. It is a hugely special day for us. Creating history is what our coach (Grant Bradburn) framed these games against England and Pakistan as and that’s what we’ve done.”
Eoin Morgan, the English skipper, remained positive through his side’s defeat ahead of the five-match series against Australia that begins on Wednesday, saying that they had much to take back from the loss.
“Full credit to Scotland, they are a very dangerous side,” said Morgan. “To bring your best game in a one-off game like this is very difficult to do but I thought they played close to their best cricket. We didn’t. It wasn’t good enough to win and we were punished for it. It’s not the end of the world for us. It’s good to play a high-scoring game under pressure and we can take a lot out of it.
“I think we were a little bit rusty but we’ll be better for the run-out, better for the pressure we’ve been under.”
Scotland will now play two T20Is against Pakistan on Tuesday and Wednesday.