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25 July 201518:49

Pacers send Scotland through to final

Evans, Sharif, Taylor pick up three wickets each, before Coetzer, MacLeod make light work of Hong Kong's 117-run target in first semi-final

Pacers send Scotland through to final - Cricket News

Scotland's decision to attack with short balls on a fresh wicket rocked Hong Kong's top order.

A combined effort by the pacers and attacking knocks by Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod helped Scotland beat Hong Kong by five wickets in the first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 in Dublin on Saturday (July 25).

After Alasdair Evans (3 for 17), Safyaan Sharif (3 for 26) and Rob Taylor (3 for 17) helped Scotland bowl out Hong Kong for 116 in 19.4 overs, Coetzer (33 from 19 balls) and MacLeod (39 from 15 balls) made light work of the target, chasing it down in just 12.2 overs.

"We want to win this tournament. The first goal was to qualify in the first place and we did that," said Scotland captain Preston Mommsen after the match. "The pressure was off and we expressed ourselves against a very strong Hong Kong team. We want to be the No. 1 team in associate cricket and playing the final is an opportunity for that."

Scotland opted to bowl and its pacers immediately justified its captain's decision. Evans dismissed Jamie Atkinson in the fourth ball of the innings and set the tone early -- Atkinson tried to pull a short ball but mishit it to mid-on and fell for nought.

Evans struck again in his next over, inducing an edge off Nizakat Khan, Hong Kong's No. 3, to the wicketkeeper. An over later, Irfan Ahmed perished, trying to slog Sharif across the line but only managing a leading edge to cover.

Scotland's decision to attack with short balls on a fresh wicket rocked Hong Kong's top order and left it in trouble at 23 for 3 in the fourth over. A mini-recovery followed, with Mark Chapman, the No. 4, launching a counterattack but it didn't last long. Chapman became Sharif's second victim in the eighth over when he missed a straight and full delivery, falling for a 23-ball 24 that included two fours and a six.

Left-arm pacer Rob Taylor further dented Hong Kong's chances of a recovery, dismissing Babar Hayat and Anshuman Rath in a space of three balls in the 13th over.

"We had a clear plan and we wanted to be aggressive and dominate with the ball," said Mommsen. "The bowlers put the ball in the areas we spoke about and we thought they were vulnerable. We did our planning and found that bowling short was the most effective area. The pitch gave us good assistance and we executed it well so full credit to the bowling attack today, we never let them off the pump."

Hong Kong, suffering at 62 for 6, was in danger of being bowled out for a sub-100 total, but Aizaz Khan, its No. 7, threw his bat around even as wickets tumbled at the other end. Aizaz hit Sharif for a six and a four in the 18th over but fell trying for another boundary, slashing a short ball to third man. His 23-ball 31 helped Hong Kong past 100, but it could not last the 20 overs, with only four batsmen making double-digit scores.

With the bowlers doing their bit, the chase was not too stiff an ask for Scotland's in-form batting line-up. Coetzer made his intentions clear in the first over, smashing two fours and a six off Tanwir Afzal to take Scotland off to a flier. MacLeod chopped on Haseeb Amjad and fell for nought in the second over but the wicket didn't hamper Scotland's approach.

Coetzer and Matthew Cross looked determined to finish early and struck three boundaries each off Amjad and Nadeem Ahmed respectively as Scotland brought up its 50 in just five overs. Cross then hammered two sixes and a four in the next over off Afzal before falling in the same over, slicing him to cover. Hong Kong struck again in the next over when Coetzer whipped Irfan to mid-wicket, but with the score of 72 for 3 in seven overs, it was a little too late.

Scotland lost two more wickets, but George Munsey remained unbeaten on 25 to take it home with nearly eight overs to spare. It will face the winner of the second semi-final between Netherlands and Ireland in the final on Sunday.

"It's awesome to be in the final of this tournament, we don't get many opportunities to play in these sort of events so to make it to the final is crucial," said Mommsen. "We've got a huge job to do though, we have to be the No. 1 team here and show good cricket and tomorrow provides us with an opportunity to make a case for that."

Mommsen felt Netherlands and Ireland were both good team and didn't have any preference on who he would rather face in the final. "Both have match winners in their own right so we have to watch the game closely today and do our homework overnight and then come out firing tomorrow," he added.