Scotland batter Calum MacLeod is wary of the challenge posed by Rashid Khan and his ilk when his side takes on Afghanistan in a ‘Super 12’ match of the ICC T20 World Cup at the Sharjah Cricket Ground on Monday.
Having played Rashid in the 2018 World Cup T20 qualifiers and also in the T20 Blast in June this year, MacLeod knows that playing Afghanistan spinners on the UAE pitches would be a challenge and Scotland would have to bat with a lot of patience to cause a second upset in the tournament here.
Newcomers Scotland had beaten Bangladesh by six runs in the Group stage of the T20 World Cup here before securing a spot in ‘Super 12’.
“First thing, I think it’ll be a challenge against all their (Afghanistan) spinners. I think everyone understands the attack that Afghanistan have got with three world-class spinners in there. I think the biggest thing is you have to try and put the pressure back on them. I think like all the top-class teams that you play against, if you let the bowlers just bowl at you, their skills will be too good for you over a period.
“So I think you have to find a method of putting the pressure back on them, whether that be with sweeping or coming down the wicket, whatever your method is about it, and I think you’ve got to stick to it and be pretty disciplined to go with it,” said MacLeod.
Rating his team’s prospects against Afghanistan on Monday, MacLeod said, Scotland had come into the ‘Super 12’ high on confidence after topping their Group in qualifying.
“I think the good thing of having the first round is that we’ve come in with confidence. We’ve obviously topped that group with three good hard games of cricket, so I think we’ll come into the game with confidence. Obviously I think it’ll be Afghanistan’s first game in the tournament, and we can also go in there and put some pressure on them.
“I said it before this started the first round, we feel we’ve got a batting unit filled with some exciting powerful players, and we just hope that we’ll be able to showcase that and go out and — just because we’re now into the Super 12s, I don’t think that changes much for us. I think we’ll come and play the aggressive type of cricket we want to play.”
MacLeod said that qualifying for the ‘Super 12s’ was quite a significant thing for Scotland, adding that his team was aspiring to become the leading associate member, which would push their case to be the next full member of the International Cricket Council.
“I think it’s (Super 12 qualification) hugely significant, not just for the team but for the organisation and some of the aspirations that Cricket Scotland have. We want to be the leading associate, and we want to push our case to be the next full member.
“I think if you look specifically at the way Afghanistan and Ireland did it, they did it from doing well at World Cups, and I think we’ve now got five great opportunities to go out and show world cricket what this organisation and the team is about. Then for the players it’s a great showcasing opportunity to show some of the Twenty20 skills that this group has and get them out there on the world stage. You never know what sort of opportunities can come on the back of this for some of the players if they have a good group stage.”