Scotland 317 for 6 (Coetzer 109, Leask 59*, Wallace 58) beat Zimbabwe 272 (Waller 92, Williams 70, de Lange 5-60) by 26 runs via DLS method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A goose egg, bagel, doughnut, or a duck in cricket. Whatever you want to call it, Scotland had a big fat zero next to their name in the wins column for ODIs against Full Members: no wins, 23 losses since the 1999 World Cup.
That dubious record was laid to rest on Thursday.
Scotland didn’t get official ODI credit for laying the smackdown on Sri Lanka in a Champions Trophy warm-up last month, but the hosts came out of that match oozing confidence. It showed against Zimbabwe when Kyle Coetzer responded with a top-class century, like he had done against Sri Lanka, to set up a total of 317 for 6 in an eventual 26-run win on DLS Method.
Both sides grappled through the first four overs in which Scotland added just four runs. Off the penultimate ball of the fourth over, Richard Ngarava pinged Kyle Coetzer on the side of the helmet with a bouncer. Much like a “heel” attempting a vicious maneuver on a “face” character in a wrestling match, the blow appeared to stir up Coetzer to bring out the full gamut of moves in retaliation.
But it was Ngarava’s new-ball partner Tendai Chatara who was at the receiving end of Coetzer’s initial punishment, with a drive over long-on for six sandwiched by three boundaries in a 19-run seventh over. Matthew Cross was not to be left out of the fun at the other end; he pulled Ngarava and played a series of cover drives as part of five boundaries spread across the sixth and eighth overs. Cross struck seven fours in all for 33 off 35 balls before he played on to end a brisk 56-run opening stand.
Coetzer brought up his half-century off 44 deliveries, dropkicking his opposite number Graeme Cremer’s legspin over the rope at long-on for six and then through midwicket for four along the way. At the other end, Zimbabwe connected with a few elbow drops to knock over Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington and Preston Mommsen cheaply.
But Coetzer was unmoved, bringing up his second ton in three days. It was Coetzer’s fourth ODI ton overall; he finished with 13 fours and two sixes in his 109 off 101 balls before he was caught at deep midwicket off Sean Williams to make it 215 for 5 in the 40th over.
Making 300 is the bare minimum under good conditions at The Grange. With Coetzer gone, it was left to Craig Wallace and Michael Leask to take the act into overdrive, and they did just that. After bringing up 50 in 49 balls, Wallace pulled out a reverse ramp on Chatara in the 47th over to move to his highest ODI score of 58 before eventually holing out to long-on in the 49th.
Leask, playing his first ODI since August 2016, stuck to old-school slogging at the other end, clearing the front leg to heave both medium pacers over the leg side boundary. He too finished with a career-best unbeaten 59 off 38 balls. Ngarava also had a career day, but in the wrong direction, ending up with 1 for 96 in 10 overs, the second-worst ODI figures by a Zimbabwean.
Zimbabwe’s reply kept the 500-odd home fans mostly silent in the early part of their 318 chase as Hamilton Masakadza hit two monstrous sixes over long-on, one of which resulted in a ball change. But for the first of several times in the chase, Zimbabwe climbed up the top rope and readied themselves for the finishing move only to slip and fall off the turnbuckle.
Masakadza was run-out for 38 when he responded to Solomon Mire’s tight call for a single off Leask, who ran towards short midwicket on his followthrough and relayed the throw to Cross. Craig Ervine was beaten for pace an over later by Chris Sole as a top-edged pull swirled before coming down to Cross.
Con de Lange entered in the 18th over and struck five balls later, the first of what would be a maiden five-for in Scotland colors, when Mire’s top-edged sweep carried to Safyaan Sharif at deep square leg to make it 97 for 3. Another run-out came moments before the umpires took players off for thickening showers as Berrington’s spectacular diving stop at backward point created confusion between Williams and Sikandar Raza, with the latter ultimately short of the relay to Cross.
The teams sat for 100 minutes before skies cleared and play resumed with Zimbabwe 107 for 4 in 21.3 overs, though set a new target of 299 in 43 overs. Williams made up for his role in Raza’s run-out by producing a series of reverse sweeps for boundaries off de Lange. He brought up his half-century off 49 balls with a boundary. He would go on to make 70 before Berrington dislodged him thanks to a sharp catch by Cross standing up to Berrington’s medium pace. In the same over, Berrington could have had another if not for a tough drop on a return chance to reprieve Malcolm Waller on 8.
While de Lange burrowed through Zimbabwe’s middle and lower order at one end, Waller seized on the early evening cross-breeze to launch five sixes. Scotland’s nerves showed in the 38th over when a four and six off by Waller off Sole was followed by a no-ball, with the ensuing free hit smashed for another four. Fifteen had come off three legal deliveries, with Zimbabwe dragging the equation down to 59 off 33. However, they were eight down and Waller began turning down singles in order to protect the tail.
With 38 needed off the last three overs, De Lange was brought back again only to be hit for another six down the ground by Waller. But three balls later another slog sweep held up in the wind for Sole to claim Waller at deep square leg for 92 off 62, though it was not without controversy as Scotland took a dramatic “heel” turn of their own. Video footage of the catch appeared to show that Sole’s right foot was on the rope when he completed the catch before quickly dragging it back inside play.
For Zimbabwe fans, it will bring back bad memories of the disputed catch taken by John Mooney on the boundary to dismiss Williams on 96 in the 2015 World Cup, a match Ireland eventually won by five runs.
Zimbabwe initially protested and Waller stayed at the wicket for nearly a minute before reluctantly walking off. De Lange had five, Zimbabwe were down on the mat for good. Sharif then came back to claim the final wicket to clinch a famous Scotland win.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna
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