Jake Perry reports
Scotland’s place at the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier was confirmed as heavy rain thwarted hopes of completing the first round of matches at the Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling. Having beaten USA for their second win of the tournament on Wednesday morning, the cancellation of USA v Netherlands in the afternoon meant that with four points already secured and two spots in the next phase available Abbi Aitken’s side could finish in second place at worst.
Whilst the news rubber-stamped what had already appeared inevitable thanks to two clinical performances from the Scots the returning rain was the last thing that their opponents needed to see. After both had struggled against the hosts their two games against each other were likely to prove decisive, and now, unless an extra gear or two can be found for the second round, the destination of the remaining qualification berth is likely to rest on the outcome of a single match as Netherlands and USA finally get to play each other on Thursday afternoon.
In their matches against Scotland both sides had been left to rue below-par performances in the first inings. The Netherlands, having been put in to bat in the opening match, struggled to pierce the field in the early stages and relied on Heather Siegers and Helmein Rambaldo at four and five to get them up to a reasonable total. Without boundaries at the top of the order, however, the Dutch were always swimming against the tide, and Lorna Jack and Kathryn Bryce quickly batted them out of the game when Scotland replied.
The USA top order struggled against Scotland’s bowlers, too, and after posting only 19 in the Powerplay the Americans looked to captain Sindhu Sriharsha and half-centurion Shebani Bhaskar to get them out of trouble. The tactical inexperience of USA was to prove telling too, however. Sriharsha’s decision to come in at four, sending Onika Wallerson in at three, was intended to give the big-hitting Wallerson an opportunity to kick-start the innings, but when in practice the opposite happened as Wallerson alternated scampered singles with swings-and-misses, 28 deliveries had been consumed for her 11. By the time Sriharsha replaced her thirteen overs had passed by with only 48 runs to show for it, and although she and Bhaskar fought well, the damage had already been done.
Once again it was the performance of the Scotland openers that showed the way as Jack and Bryce looked to manoeuvre the ball into gaps rather than go for the all-or-nothing hoo-hah, and with loose deliveries to punish, too, the platform they built put the game beyond the reach of their opponents.
But for all that it is the Netherlands who are nursing perhaps the biggest headache of all. Whilst Tuesday’s performance with the bat had been mixed, with the ball it had been little short of disastrous. Siegers was to go through eight bowlers as with a string of full tosses, long hops and leg-side freebies the very definition of buffet bowling was served.
With so few runs to defend the game quickly slipped away as Scotland duly feasted, and, whatever else may happen in the remainder of the tournament, against a USA side keen to impress the Netherlands cannot afford such generosity a second time.
Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.