IT was one of the great put-downs when Steve Waugh, the Australia captain, was reported to have told South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs "well done mate, you've just dropped the World Cup".

Now Michael Leask, the Scotland all-rounder, must have some idea how Gibbs felt after dropping the catch that put the Scots into trouble in their bid to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.

They have played only two games but already are struggling after being hammered by the Netherlands, falling to 159 all out chasing the visitors' impressive total of 191 from an innings that hinged on the moment when Wesley Barresi, the Dutch wicketkeeper, by then already on 30, lobbed up a simple catch to cover point, where Leask was lurking. He got both hands to it, only to see the ball slip from his grasp and tumble to the ground.

Misses like that cost games and the way he kicked it in obvious fury with himself showed he knew how important that moment could be, all the worse for being the third and by far the easiest chance Barresi had given in that one over from Josh Davey. Two balls later, the Dutch batsman rubbed it in with a huge six over square leg and promptly set about destroying Scots hopes.

Afterwards, Preston Mommsen, the Scotland captain, admitted it had been the turning point. "That one over we had three missed opportunities and that cost us," he said. "We have been outplayed in all three departments. We actually bowled all right in our first powerplay - it would have been our power- play if we had held on to catches and it would have been a hugely different innings if we had taken those wickets. Ultimately it is our fielding that has let us down. It is a very short game and you cannot afford to drop catches.

"It is not nice, nobody tries to drop a catch but it could have happened to anyone. That is part of cricket. We will move on and have to start again. We need to start well against Afghanistan."

That now becomes a must-win game for the Scots if they are to have any hope of topping their pool and reaching the lottery of the knockout stage with qualification already secured. "We have to start well, build some momentum early on and try to take control. It puts extra pressure on, we have to appreciate that, but we have done well against Afghanistan in recent times and owe them one for that World Cup loss, so we will be up for that, no doubt about that," Mommsen added.

The trouble is that Afghanistan have already beaten Holland with about as much ease as the Dutch beat Scotland, and it is the Afghans who came into the tournament as most people's favourites for the pool even though it is being staged in Scotland.

What was particularly frustrating for the Scots was that they were so easily beaten in a game where they had produced two of the outstanding performances of the tournament, Alasdair Evans winning the man-of-the-match award for his five wickets for only 24 runs in a brilliant spell of seam bowling, and Mommsen himself contributing 68 runs to the futile chase.

"Good performances count for nothing," was Mommsen's verdict. "Huge credit to the way Evans bowled, he was outstanding. We went for 190 and he bowled his four overs, got five wickets for 24 runs. It is a huge positive for us but we need all 11 guys on the field playing like that. It is nice to get runs, but it is in a losing cause."

In the end, Barresi did succumb to a slower delivery from Evans, but by then he had bashed, crashed, pulled and pushed his way to 75 in a brutal assault on the Scots bowling, 58 of them coming from the 12 occasions he peppered the boundary with a succession of huge hits that gave the Scots few chances to rescue the innings.

When he went, though, Peter Borren came in and plundered 57 in the final overs as the Netherlands set a target that would have demanded a record run chase from Scotland to win the game.

When George Munsey was run out in the first over - a straight drive from Kyle Coetzer, his partner, hit the stumps at his end and caught him out of his ground backing up - the final hope seemed to go with him.