Scotland v United Arab Emirates
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
Super Sixes Match 2
Thursday 15 March; 09:30 local time, 07:30 GMT
The second match of the Super Sixes, between Scotland and United Arab Emirates at Queens Park Club in Bulawayo, should make for a fascinating contest.
Both sides have had a contrasting ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 so far. While Scotland have been clinical in all their group games, winning three and tying their last encounter with Zimbabwe, UAE have blown hot and cold, with impressive performances against the Netherlands and Windies, but a big 226-run loss (DLS method) in their last game against Ireland.
On the face of it, Scotland seem better placed. Their bowlers have stood up on every occasion, and they are the only team to have bowled out their opposition in each of the four games. Their batters too have responded competently and got the job done on most occasions.
UAE, though, have been unpredictable so far and it is this unpredictable nature that makes them a threat. In their opening game, they brushed aside PNG by 56 runs (DLS method) and in the second encounter against Windies, despite giving away 357/4, the batters fought valiantly to get to 297/6. Then came a convincing six-wicket victory over the Netherlands, which was followed by the meek surrender against Ireland.
Coming into the Super Sixes carrying no points, they will have to be at their best to topple a side of the calibre of Scotland and keep alive their hopes of progression. One thing in their favour is the nature of the pitch. Queens Park Club has been known to aid turn, and with Rohan Mustafa in prime form, spin might trouble the Scottish side.
The other headache for Scotland is the form of their opener Matthew Cross, who has scores of 18, 2, 14 and 13 so far in the tournament. Despite the bowlers restricting the opposition to relatively low scores, bar the opening game against Afghanistan, Scotland have lost too many wickets in chases. In the business end of the tournament, there will be no room for mistakes.
Scotland will once again rely on their bowlers, Alasdair Evans, Tom Sole, Brad Wheal, Safyaan Sharif and Richie Berrington, to come up with the goods.
With batsmen from both sides struggling, it might come down to which team bowls better that decides the fate of this Super Six encounter.
Safyaan Sharif (Scotland): Having picked up ten wickets in the four games so far, Safyaan Sharif has been a vital cog in the Scotland bowling line-up. The right-arm seamer has been on the money right from the start and has consistently provided his side with key wickets when needed. Awarded Player of the Match for his five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe in Scotland's last group game, Sharif will again be handed the responsibility of providing the breakthroughs.
Rohan Mustafa (UAE): Much of UAE's success rests on the shoulders of Mustafa, their skipper. In the four games so far, he has picked up seven wickets and scored 131 runs. His 5/26 against the Netherlands is a prime reason why UAE find themselves in the Super Sixes. There have been a string of low scores since his 95 in the opening game against PNG, and Mustafa will know the Scotland bowlers will not make his job any easier.
While Scotland have played two out of their four encounters at the Queens Sports Club, this will be a first time for UAE on this surface. The pitch has assisted the batsmen for the most part with the spinners coming into play as the game goes on. The temperature is expected to be as high as 30°C with no sign of rain.
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Michael Jones, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Tom Sole, Craig Wallace (wk), Mark Watt, Brad Wheal, Stuart Whittingham
United Arab Emirates: Rohan Mustafa (c), Adnan Mufti, Ahmed Raza, Amir Hayat, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Ghulam Shabber (wk), Imran Haider, Mohammad Boota, Mohammad Naveed, Muhammad Usman, Qadeer Ahmed, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Kha