Scotland have put themselves in pole position to qualify for the Super 12 of the T20 World Cup after a 17-run win over Papua New Guinea.
A surprise victory over Bangladesh on Sunday had given the Saltires the perfect start to the tournament and triumph over PNG ensures they have four points from four.
Richie Berrington delivered a man-of-the match performance. Berrington, who already holds the record for the most runs and highest individual score for Scotland in T20s, became his country’s first half-centurion in T20 World Cups with an impressive 70 off 49 balls.
Their score of 165-9 is also their highest at a T20 World Cup and could have been more but for a late collapse. Four wickets from Josh Davey helped Scotland bowl their counterparts out for 148, despite some big-hitting from the PNG tail-enders.
“You need to find one or two partnerships in T20 to give yourself a chance of posting a decent score,” said captain Kyle Coetzer. “Richie Berrington and Matty Cross played outstandingly well; Richie was man-of-the-match and he’s been doing that consistently for us over the last month or so.
“I thought we left a few out there on the park. Credit to PNG, the way they bowled in the death overs was excellent and they used the boundary sizes to benefit them. There’s a few things for us to look at going into our last game but I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.
“We have some extremely dangerous and talented players throughout our line-up, so knowing that if things aren’t quite going to plan there are people there who can put their hand up and win us the game is good. Richie is doing it consistently at the moment.
“Crossy has been doing extremely well too and everyone at one time or another has put a score on the board during our time out here. Lots of confidence there that someone will put up their hand amongst our group as Mark Watt did again with the ball and Josh Davey showed his skills at the end – they were superb.”
The pair put on a half-century stand for the third wicket and began to accelerate in the second half of the innings, with Berrington and Cross both upping the boundary count before the latter holed out to Simon Atai for 45.
Berrington reached his 50 in the 16th over, but was part of a flurry of late wickets, as Chad Soper and Kabua Morea shared seven between them.
“I think it took a bit of time to get in on that wicket,” Berrington told Sky Sports. “The PNG boys were excellent with the new ball and put us under a bit of pressure early. It was really important we got a partnership going again and thankfully we got just over that par on that wicket.
“We didn’t really have a target – it was just to give ourselves a bit more time to get used to the wicket then at the end, look for a few more boundaries. Thankfully we managed to get that big partnership, which was quite key in the end.”
PNG were pegged back early, with Granite City-born Davey chipping in with a couple of wickets and Aberdonian Michael Leask running out Charles Amini.
Norman Vanua (47) threatened to fray the nerves, but Scotland held on to claim back-to-back wins.
They face Oman in their final group game on Thursday.
Coetzer added: “Certainly the last game will be one to play for and the way these tournaments are, the way qualifying tournaments are and the way it happened with us in Zimbabwe a couple of years ago, we know it always comes down to the last game. Rarely is it straightforward.”