Scotland had a great fall. Riding the crest of a wave of success with three wins in Round One, Kyle Coetzer and his team suffered a rude jolt when Afghanistan blew them away at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The 130-run win in Group 2 game in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was Afghanistan’s biggest, and the triumph amply demonstrated the wide chasm in class.
Afghanistan is a Test-playing country. They were once an associate, playing the qualifiers like Scotland. Today Afghanistan are a part of the big boys of cricket. They even secured a direct entry to the Super 12s ahead of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. That tells us how far they have come since playing their first Test in Bengaluru in 2018.
Last week was perhaps Scotland’s best in its cricketing history. One win in 21 attempts was all they had to show in top-flight cricket. All that changed in Round One of the T20 World Cup. With wins over Papua New Guinea, Oman and Bangladesh (a Test-playing nation), Scotland came into the Super 12s high on confidence.
Confidence is one thing, and class is another. A bunch of part-timers are no match for Afghanistan, whose spinners ply their craft in the top T20 leagues of the world. They have pitted their skills against the best in the world and thrived. That’s why they are a feared bunch.
Scotland got a taste of spin medicine. And they couldn’t handle it. Ten wickets in ten overs is a sheer capitulation. It was almost as if Scotland was playing on a turning track. When Afghanistan batted, they played with so much freedom that sixes rained on the roofs of the stands. And Scottish batsmen barely got the ball off the square.
What’s clear is the gulf in standards. Scotland have a long way to go. But they can take heart from Afghanistan’s graduation to the senior ranks of cricket. One day, Scotland too can reach there. Ireland did. Next could be Scotland’s turn. But, there’s still a long way to go.