Impactful Scotland aim for the top as PNG struggle for survival

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Al Amerat (Muscat), Oct 19 (IANS) Scotland could be in the best possible position to emerge as the first team from First Round Group B to stake a claim for a ‘Super 12’ berth when they take on Papua New Guinea in their second match of the ICC T20 World Cup here later on Tuesday.

Scotland and PNG have had contrasting starts to their campaigns here, with Kyle Coetzer’s side causing a major upset by defending a modest total against Bangladesh for only their second victory in World Cups. Debutants PNG, though, were overwhelmed by Oman.

Scotland, though, said that they were “humbled” and “excited” at the position they find themselves in, adding that they weren’t thinking too far ahead about potentially topping the table. But whatever they say, a win on Tuesday will put them in the best position to finish in the top-two of the group and make it to the ‘Super 12’ stage.

For PNG, though, another defeat would signal an early end to their campaign.

Scotland have played PNG in two T20Is and won both times. The first of those was in the 2019 Qualifier, while the most recent came earlier this month in the lead up to the World Cup. However, the teams are familiar with the threat the other poses, having played each other plenty of times, including in ODIs in recent weeks.

Although both sides suffered batting collapses in their opening games, they boast considerable batting depth. They both showed how despite early setbacks, they were capable of attacking through the innings.

Against Bangladesh, Scotland struggled against pace early on, and that gives PNG the best chance to make a breakthrough. George Munsey and Calum MacLeod are especially strong against spin. The PNG bowlers were short on discipline against Oman, and will do well to improve quickly.

Meanwhile, Scotland have no reason to alter their winning combination. Their batting worked well, as did their bowling.

Ahead of the match, Scotland’s Michael Leask said, “At the moment we’re just trying to keep our feet on the ground, take every game as it comes. PNG are going to be quite a force in the next game. We’ve played against them quite a few times. We know exactly what they’re going to come with. They post their own challenges. At the moment we’re just trying to take it day by day, game by game … Our guys are in a really good headspace.”

PNG skipper Assad Vala PNG said, “Some positives from the [Oman] game was just in the batting. I thought we showed some character, getting to a Powerplay at 40-odd after losing two wickets early on … Next two games, we just want to go back, talk about and reflect what we need to do. We just need to focus on ourselves and not worry about Scotland and Bangladesh at the moment.”

Possible Scotland playing XI: Kyle Coetzer (c), George Munsey, Matthew Cross, Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Josh Davey, Safyaan Sharif, Brad Wheal.

Possible PNG playing XI: Assad Vala (c), Tony Ura, Lega Siaka, Charles Amini, Sese Bau, Norman Vanua, Simon Atai, Kiplin Doringa, Damien Ravu, Kabua Morea, Nosaina Pokana.

–IANS

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