The three matches of the USA/Scotland/UAE Cricket World Cup League 2 tri-series have thrown up a number of talking points, with all three teams still well and truly in the running for automatic 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier spots.
As the USA and Scotland take points off each other in the two fixtures to begin the tri-series, UAE fell to Kyle Coetzer's men, with the skipper registering his fifth ODI century.
Coetzer punishes missed chances to move Scotland further ahead
Dropped either side of raising his bat for fifty, the Scotland skipper punished the lax UAE fielding display, with 16 boundaries in his 108* (142) to steer his team home.
It was a rather typical knock from the 38-year-old, stroking through cover irrespective of bowling lengths, also efficient on the pull shot when given the opportunity.
After a life on 41, a sliced cover drive to deep point almost brought his downfall on 56, only for the chance to be spilled. Making the most of the opportunity, Coetzer ensured the match would go the way of the Saltires, with consecutive ten-run overs with Michael Leask swinging the pendulum.
It's the first unbeaten hundred for Coetzer, and second ODI century against UAE, after he made 127 (121) in the ICC World Cricket League Championship in 2016.
Richie Berrington's purple patch
Even after turning 35 earlier in the year, Richie Berrington could be in the form of his life, and the No.4's style, a blend of maturity and powerful stroke-play, puts him in the conversation for being the best batter in the Associate world at present.
Making two of his three ODI centuries in a six-innings stretch, only a handful of players in the emerging game stack up against the right-hander, and his contribution has been a key ingredient in Scotland's push up the League 2 table.
Scotland won five matches in the same period, with Berrington's 107* against USA in Texas off just 90 deliveries. The innings catapulted the Scots to an even 300, a bridge too far for the hosts, who fell to a 111-run defeat.
Berrington fell to the part-time leg-spin of CP Rizwan for 13 in Scotland's third match of the tri-series, though his ODI average in 2022 still stands at a world-class 82.80
League 2 ODIs
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The newest ODI venue provides a new challenge
The 213rd ODI venue, Moosa Stadium is the first in the state of Texas to host international cricket, and has already dished up its own flavour.
As Associate wickets often favour bowlers in comparison to matches played out by Full Member counterparts, the flat, almost completely grassless surface has posed new questions for bowlers and captains to answer. Scores of 310 and 300 have been posted by the team batting first in the first two matches, with the third match the first to go the way of a chasing side.
The jury is still out as to if the unsuccessful chases in the first two matches are down to wear throughout the afternoon or teams' perceived inexperience in chasing high targets, though the surface traffic across the new square is something to keep an eye on throughout the back-to-back tri-series at the venue.
Safe Saurabh dependable as ever
Taking seven wickets in the two matches played out, Saurabh Netravalkar continues to show just how important he is to the USA side.
The left-armer moved past Timil Patel as USA's most prolific wicket-taker in limited-overs cricket in the second match of the series, with his bowling average in ODI cricket moving down to 16.23. Incredibly, the former skipper also boasts an economy of 3.68 in the format.
More history today at Moosa Stadium in Texas! Congrats to @Saurabh_Netra, who with his 2nd wicket today surpassed Timil Patel to become @USAcricket's all-time leading wicket taker in limited overs cricket (ODI, List A & non-List A), doing it in 16 fewer matches than Timil too. pic.twitter.com/mR5N835QEH— Peter Della Penna (@PeterDellaPenna) May 29, 2022
Netravalkar's success is not down to prodigious movement either in the air or off the surface, but rather his tactical nous between the ears, nagging line and length and clever changes of pace.
Against both left and right-handers, over or around the wicket and even with the wicket-keeper up to the stumps, Netravalkar has delivered for his side, and remains a key cog in the USA's League 2 campaign.
Greaves and Sole shows Scottish depth particularly in the bowling
Even with a number of players unavailable for selection, Kyle Coetzer has a plethora of bowling options, as shown by leg-spinning all-rounder Chris Greaves and quick Chris Sole who came in for games two and three.
Greaves turned the screws with figures of 2/29 from his nine overs in their win over the USA, taking the wickets of Gajanand Singh (13) and Cameron Stevenson (3), to leave the hosts with an insurmountable task. Coming back from a conceding a dozen in his opening over, namesake Sole pulled things back as he found his rhythm, cleaning up the tail.
Sole went on to claim 4/27 in their win over UAE, tearing through in the middle overs, with Greaves chiming in with 1/32.
Whether it be spin or pace, Scotland have the stocks as they make their Cricket World Cup push, well-rounded to challenge the Full Members in a year's time.
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