CALUM MacLEOD stepped up to score a blistering century yesterday as Scotland continued their World Cup qualifying bid with a convincing win over United Arab Emirates in Queenstown, New Zealand.
After a lengthy rain delay at the picturesque South Island venue, MacLeod vented his frustration with a scorching assault on the bowlers to score 113 from only 62 deliveries in a match reduced to 28 overs.
It was enough to steer the Scots to a 53-run win against the previously unbeaten UAE, whom they have now overhauled in the Group A table on net run-rate, and victory over Canada on Wednesday would secure a place in the Super Six stage. "It was one of those days when everything we tried came off," MacLeod said. "We had a bit of luck - hitting the ball just over fielders - but that's going to happen in an innings like that."
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MacLeod had able support from Matthew Cross, who was promoted to open and proved that his aggressive style is perfectly suited to the shorter format. The pair put on 178 for the first wicket in just 17.3 overs as the Scots came flying out the blocks.
Cross, tipped to be Nottinghamshire's next wicketkeeper-batsman, hit 10 fours and three sixes in a 60-ball 88, yet the Aberdonian's effort was eclipsed by MacLeod who went on to hit his highest score for Scotland. The former Warwickshire player cleared the rope four times and stroked 12 classy boundaries. By the time he was out, the Scots had reached 227-3 in the 24th over. As the middle order maintained the onslaught they went on to post 265 for six at a remarkable 9.5 runs an over.
Yorkshire's Iain Wardlaw quickly had their opponents reeling with two early scalps on his way to a third consecutive three-wicket haul. Majid Haq also took three wickets but there was resistance from Khurram Khan with a rapid 87. MacLeod, though, completed a brilliant all-round display by removing UAE's top scorer as Scotland closed in on victory.
"The team are ecstatic," MacLeod said. "We wanted a good victory to stamp our mark. If we can keep playing like this we'll do well."