Gordon Drummond celebrated his first match as Scotland captain when he inspired his side to a see-saw 29-run victory over Canada in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 opener with a day to spare at Mannofield Park, Aberdeen on Saturday
Canada skipper Umar Bhatti counts positives, praises fast bowler Khurram Chohan
Gordon Drummond celebrated his first match as Scotland captain when he inspired his side to a see-saw 29-run victory over Canada in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 opener with a day to spare at Mannofield Park, Aberdeen on Saturday.
Drummond, who became the third Scottish captain this year after Ryan Watson and Gavin Hamilton, excelled more with the bat than with the ball when he was involved in crucial partnerships in both the innings that turned out to be the decisive factors in the context of a strange match that produced 739 runs with just two half-centuries in less than three days of play at the cost of 39 wickets in 256.2 overs.
Drummond, in association with wicketkeeper Simon Smith, added 83 runs for the ninth wicket to help his side recover from 102-8 to a first innings total of 185. He then put on 69 runs for the eighth wicket with debutant Jan Stander to carry Scotland from 99-7 to 199 in the second innings.
Drummond playing in only his fourth first-class match, showed no signs of his limited experience of the format when he smartly marshaled his troops by making calculated bowling changes and excellent field placing as Canada was bowled out for 142 runs in its first innings to concede a 43-run first innings lead and was then dismissed for 213 while chasing 243 for victory.
While Drummond scored 52 and 34 in the match, the bowling honours for Scotland were shared between fast bowlers Calum MacLeod, who recorded match figures of 32.4-7-102-6, and Stander, who finished with figures of 30-5-91-5 to support his second innings contribution of 64 runs which was the highest score of the match.
"It has been a dream start for me and I am delighted to have contributed to my team's success in the first match of the tournament. It's always important to start on a winning note and I am delighted to help my team have achieved it," said Drummond.
"It was time for me to take more responsibility with the bat and build partnerships so that we could give something to our bowlers to defend. It was all about staying at the crease because we had a long batting line-up and we knew if we managed to hang in there, we would be able to post a respectable score on the board," said the fast bowler, who also took 2-22 in the first innings.
Reflecting on the conditions, Drummond said: "I think the conditions were good for cricket. And if 39 wickets fell in three days, it was more due to a combination of lack of discipline by the batsmen and quality bowling by the bowlers than terrors on the wicket.
"It was an exciting game and I am proud of my team which showed character, stayed calm and stuck to basics. However, I do believe both the sides were a bit rusty and as all the teams in the tournament are almost of equal strength, it will be down to be how quickly the teams can adapt to the given conditions and deliver winning performances.
"Credit must be given to the Canadian boys who fought all the way. The first match of the tournament has set the trend of what I think will be an exciting and hard-fought event," said the captain.
Despite losing the close match, Canada captain Umar Bhatti was upbeat and satisfied with his side's performance. "I think we played reasonably good cricket. Yes, our batting let us down but overall we showed a good account of ourselves," said the fast bowler who took 2-67 in the match.
"The batting was a bit rusty as we were playing our first four-day match after a long time and the batsmen found it hard to switch from the one-day mode to the longer version. The batsmen tried to play too many strokes when the need of the hour was to occupy the crease and stay in the middle as long as possible.
"Despite our batting failures, I think we can draw a lot of positives out of this match. The fielding was top class as we held everything that came our way except for one catch while the bowling of Khurram Chohan was outstanding.
"As far as I am concerned, Khurram was the player of the match. He was very unlucky to miss out on a 10-wicket haul. He used the new ball very intelligently and severely tested the batsmen all through the match by bowling in the corridor of uncertainty," Bhatti said.
Chohan, the 29-year-old who has played first-class cricket in Pakistan and has also represented Pakistan at the U/19 level, followed up his 6-37 in the first innings with 3-50 in the second for match figures of 34.4-13-89-9.
Bhatti confirmed it was his team's batting rather than the conditions that led to the defeat. "I agree that the conditions favoured the bowlers more than the batsmen but that doesn't mean conditions were difficult for batting.
"I think some of the batsmen showed that runs could have been scored if they had applied themselves, showed a little more caution and selected the right balls to play their strokes.
"When lots of wickets fall in a match like this, a partnership is always waiting to happen. Scotland managed to put together two handy partnerships of 83 runs and 69 runs while our best partnership of the match was 64 (in the second innings). I think if we had managed to produce one more partnership of 50 odd runs, the result of the match might have been different," said the 25-year-old Bhatti.
Canada and Scotland will now go head to head in a two-ODI series on Tuesday and Wednesday in Aberdeen after which Canada will travel to Rotterdam where it will take on the Netherlands from 15 July while Scotland will play traditional rival and defending champion Ireland from 17 August.
Scores in brief:
Scotland 185 (Gordon Drummond 52, Ryan Watson 37, Simon Smith 29 not out, Fraser Watts 21; Khurram Chohan 6-37, Kenry Osinde 2-63) and 199 (Jan Stander 64, Gordon Drummond 34; Rizwan Cheema 3-39, Khurram Chohan 3-50, Shaheed Keshvani 2-20)
Canada 142 (Rizwan Cheema 24, Khurram Chohan 23 not out; Calum MacLeod 4-66, Jan Stander 3-43, Drummond 2-22) and 213 (Sandeep Jyoti 47, Geoff Barnett 31, Khurram Chohan 28, Ashif Mulla 27, Shaheed Keshvani 34; Moneeb Iqbal 2-31, Calum MacLeod 2-36, Richie Berrington 2-20, Jan Stander 2-48)