Yousuf sees Pakistan home against brave Scots
by AFP

Ground:Grange Cricket Club Ground, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
Scorecard:Scotland v Pakistan
Player:Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, PJC Hoffmann, RR Watson, NFI McCallum

DateLine: 28th June 2006


Mohammad Yousuf's unbeaten 83 saw Pakistan get their United Kingdom tour off to a winning start with a five-wicket one-day international victory against Scotland at the Grange here Tuesday.


Pakistan, set 204 to win, finished on 205 for five after an unbroken stand of 112 between Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq (49 not out).


But part-timers Scotland, one of the non-Test nations who've qualified for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, had plenty of reasons for pride after the match looked like being a hopelessly lopsided contest.


The hosts collapsed to 20 four before recovering well thanks to a partnership of 118 between Ryan Watson (80) and Neil McCallum (68) that took them to a respectable 203 for eight from 50 overs.


Then paceman Paul Hoffmann took three for 22 as Pakistan slumped to 93 for five before the experienced Yousuf and Razzaq saw them home with more than six overs to spare.


It was a near ideal warm-up for Inzamam-ul-Haq's men, testing without being embarrassing and afterwards Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer praised Scotland's performance.


"Scotland have come a long, long way," the ex-England batsman and former South Africa coach said.


"Their fielding is sharp, the bowling was pretty good and I've noticed they've beaten a few counties," Woolmer, who before joining Pakistan was the International Cricket Council's high-performance manager, charged with improving the standard of the sport's emerging nations, also told the BBC.


Meanwhile Watson, captain in the absence of the injured Craig Wright, said this performance showed his side were on the right track ahead of next year's trip to the Caribbean.


"The only low point of the match was that we didn't win it. The worst thing that could have happened for Scottish cricket was that we would go out and get flogged," he said.


"With a bit of hard work over the winter we are going to get a lot better - there's a lot of room for improvement which can only augur well for the future," Watson added.


Yousuf too was taken with the way Scotland played and said the match had been a useful exercise ahead of Pakistan's four-Test series with England, starting next month, and the subsequent five-match one-day campaign.


"It was a very good batting pitch and very good atmosphere with the sunshine and it was very enjoyable," Yousuf said. "Watson and Neil McCallum batted beautifully. It was a good experience for us."


Pakistan continue their tour with a three-day match against Leicestershire at Grace Road commencing Saturday before taking on England A in a four-day encounter at Canterbury starting on July 6.


The A match, at the home of Woolmer's old county Kent, could see the return to action of England star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, currently sidelined from the ongoing one-day series with Sri Lanka (where the home team are 3-0 down) after being told to rest an ankle injury.


From Canterbury, Pakistan travel to Lord's where the first Test starts on July 13.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)