Scots book Twenty20 World Cup place
Scotland's triumphant cricketers last night booked their place in September's Twenty20 World Championships with a clinical 77-run win over Kenya at the Gymkhana Club, Nairobi.
Following the heart-stopping victories over Ireland, Canada and Netherlands last week, the Scots never looked like causing the merest palpitation among their supporters during this latest and most convincing World Cricket League win.
Instead a superb all-round performance from Majid Haq, who hit 71 runs, claimed three wickets and pouched two crucial catches, ensured Scotland gained revenge for the 190-run reverse to the Africans in Mombasa just over two weeks ago.
Defending a total of 254-8 following a tight display from the Kenyan attack, John Blain grabbed the initiative for his side with two early breakthroughs.
The former Yorkshire paceman first had Maurice Ouma caught by Haq at mid-on and then produced a brute of a delivery that ripped through the defences of one of the Kenyan dangermen, Ravi Shah, for seven.
The other star Kenyan, Steve Tikolo, was trapped in front by Dougie Brown as Scotland continued to apply the pressure.
A run out and a wicket for skipper Craig Wright paved the way for Haq to spin the Scots ever closer to glory with a nine-over spell which brought 3-26.
Blain then returned to claim the wicket of top scorer Thomas Odoyo, caught at long-on by man-of-the-match Haq.
"I've got to thank the coach [Peter Drinnen] and captain for backing me as an opening batsman," said Haq. "I'd never done the job until the tournament in Mombasa last month so it was a bit of a gamble.
"I know my fitness came under scrutiny when I was picked in the provisional World Cup squad in the autumn and our fitness coach Andy Jackson deserves a lot of credit. I've lost 18 kilos and it makes a difference."
Scotland had looked on course for an even bigger total after a record opening partnership from Fraser Watts and Haq hoisted the score to 103 in 21 overs.
Watts, caught in the slips off an Odoyo no-ball early on, made the bowler suffer with three boundaries in one over as the Scots upped the tempo after seeing off the new ball.
Haq followed his partner's lead by twice stroking Hiren Varaiya to the offside boundary as the runs continued to flow.
However, the Scots suffered their first setback when Watts, having reached his fourth ODI half-century, was bowled behind his legs by Varaiya.
His 58 came from 69 balls and included seven fours and a six.
Ryan Watson was next to go when he called Haq through for a quick single, only to be sent back and find himself stranded.
Ferguslie player Haq, having reached 71 from 109 balls - his highest ODI score - offered a simple return chance to Tikolo.
With the total on 174 in the 37th over, the Scots probably felt they needed acceleration but each risk they took appeared to be punished.
Neil McCallum went attempting a risky second while Brown and Colin Smith were both caught by Shah on the leg-side boundary off Tikolo who finished with 3-46.
Only Gavin Hamilton survived long enough to make a meaningful contribution, the former Yorkshire all-rounder scampering his way to 58 at almost a run a ball.
"We suffered a heavy defeat to Kenya a couple of weeks back but we've timed our run perfectly," said a jubilant coach Drinnen. "Results like this don't happen by accident."
The Scots are likely to rest several key players when they face Bermuda today ahead of a likely re-match with Kenya in the WCL final on Wednesday.