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Saltires fail to take chances as they again lose narrowly

Scotland's players suffered last-ball despair yesterday as their latest South African tour match ended in an agonising single-run defeat.

They went into their Twenty20 game against North-West Dragons in Potchefstroom on a high after Wednesday's 50-over win against the same opponents but, after bowling out their hosts for 143, they fell a run short.

Pete Steindl, the coach, said: "We felt as a team that this was a game we should have won and the guys are frustrated to have fallen just short. In fairness, we dragged it back pretty well in both innings but, having given ourselves a chance, we failed to take it."

Dragons looked likely to post a huge total when they cruised to 99 for two, only for the Scots to fight back. Matt Machan, the Sussex spinner, led the way with three for 16 while Gordon Goudie and Safy Sharif took two wickets each as the final eight wickets fell for 44 runs.

Machan and Calum MacLeod got the reply off to a flying start only for a clutch of wickets to leave Scotland teetering on 50 for five. Haq and David Murphy launched the tourists' second recovery of the match to leave Goudie and Richard Coughtrie requiring 21 runs off the final over.

A flurry of boundaries reduced the target to 4 from the final delivery but the pair managed only 2 before Coughtrie was run out going for the third that would have tied the match. The Scots finished on 142-7. Saltires face the Dragons once more in a second T20 match tomorrow.

n Steven Finn flew out to England's Dubai training camp yesterday uncertain whether he will be involved in the first Test against India in Ahmedabad next month.

The Middlesex paceman is, though, certain that England have what it takes to end their 27-year wait for a Test series victory in India. England beat India in a Test series at home last year but then suffered a backlash on the sub-continent and were trounced 5-0 in a one-day series.

"People are writing us off but write us off at your peril. We like rearing up in the face of adversity," Finn warned.

"I don't think an England team have won out there for 27 years, so we're looking to end that dismal run."

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