Pakistan v Scotland, Group-B
Neil Hallam - 20 May 1999
Scotland wilt under Wasim
Pakistan (261-6) bt Scotland (167) by 94 runs
Scotland's Gavin Hamilton celebrates the wicket of Pakistani batsman Salim Malik
THE proud thistle which Australia found so prickly to grasp last weekend was mown down by the whirling blades of Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram.
The flower of Scotland bloomed in the sappy heat of the morning as Pakistan collapsed to 92 for five in 27 overs but was all but uprooted when, in pursuit of a victory target of 262, the Scots were reduced to 19 for five by Shoaib's opening blast of three for six in five overs and Wasim's two for 18 in seven.
The result was beyond dispute from that point but Gavin Hamilton's pugnacious 76 - the first-ever World Cup half-century for Scotland repaired Caledonian self-esteem and Pakistan had to be content with a victory margin of 94 runs.
Not that contentment was much in evidence at the after-match press conference as Wasim, Pakistan's captain, complained about the pitch and the problems his side had endured during their warm-up programme.
``It was fine all day yesterday so why was the pitch covered instead of being allowed to see the sun?'' he asked. ``Is somebody being instructed that we must not get flat pitches?
``The ball was all over the place in the morning. It was more than abnormal and it was even more of a problem because bad weather meant that we did not get a single full warm-up game.
``Can you imagine what would be said if England or Australia came to Pakistan and could not get any proper practice before such a big tournament?''
Wasim was also critical of his batsmen, insisting: ``They must show more responsibility and learn to leave the ball when it's swinging and seaming. Our fielding was also poor.''
Pakistan's heavy reliance on their new-ball pair was clearly demonstrated here and the sight of Shoaib trudging off only one over into an unrewarded second spell initially seemed more of a worry than the flimsiness of their upper batting.
The first bulletin was that Shoaib had a sore knee but Wasim rather mysteriously added: ``He goes through phases. I'm sure he will be okay and bowl faster against Australia.''
A notch below his recorded maximum of 96 mph, Shoaib was still too rapid for the club players of Scotland's upper order.
Wasim's own value to his side is, if anything even more crucial, as his 37 off 19 balls and final figures of three for 23 clearly demonstrated.
In his first over he cut one back to penetrate Bruce Patterson's defences on the back foot and Scotland's worst fears were realised as Shoaib's pace proved all too much for Mike Smith, Iain Phillip and George Salmon, all groping on the back foot .
Wasim again nipped one back to beat Ian Stanger but the gentler pace of Pakistan's second-line bowlers permitted sterner resistance from Hamilton and James Brinkley in a stand worth 62 in 17 overs.
Brinkley's diligence ended with a mistimed pick-up to short square-leg and Hamilton, finding another durable ally in Alec Davies, roused Scottish support with a flurry of muscular blows in passing 50 off 90 balls.
A stand of 61 in nine overs had Pakistan looking distinctly ragged but once Davies swatted a slow full toss to gully the innings quickly folded.
Hamilton, who hit three sixes and three fours, was last to go, utterly deceived by Wasim's slower ball, and with bowling figures of two for 36 must have been a strong contender for the man-of-the-match award.
Instead it went to Yousuf Youhana, whose increasingly aggressive unbeaten 81 off 119 balls did most to spare Pakistan embarrassment. Until he, Moin Khan and Wasim took charge, Pakistan's position among the World Cup favourites looked decidedly perverse.
Shahid Afridi ran himself out and when Saeed Anwar's lean spell continued with a dart at Asim Butt's away-swing, the jitters well and truly set in.
Abdul Razzaq and Salim Malik wafted around balls which called for a straight bat and the Pakistani drums fell silent when Inzamam-ul-Haq betrayed his patience with a head-back lunge at the off-spin of Nick Dyer.
Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at firstname.lastname@example.org