THREE games in and already Scotland know that if they are to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 next year, they are going to have to do it the hard way.

Defeat by Holland on Saturday was bad enough but the second defeat in two days, as their bowling was ripped apart by Afghanistan, leaves them knowing they have to win their remaining three pool games this week to stay in the hunt.

To be fair, the weekend opponents were always likely to be their main challengers, if Scotland can lift their performances again in the rest of this week, they can stay in the hunt, but the pressure is on - any more slip ups and they will be struggling. As it is, they are unlikely now to go straight into the semi-finals with qualification assured, the best they can realistically hope for is to reach the play-offs that give them two chances to reach the top-six spot they need to head for India next year.

Despite yesterday's 37 run defeat by Afghanistan, Grant Bradburn, the head coach, says he is still optimistic. "They were two very good performances from our opposition, and we want to be playing our best cricket at the sharp end of the tournament, it is as simple as that," he said.

"T20 is a completely different game and we were left chasing slightly too many on both days. It was a tough ask and everything had to go for you - I was very proud of the batting performance in both games. You don't have to dig too far to see where we need to sharpen up, unusually our fielding has not been at its peak. We have spilled catches and that has cost us."

What the weekend matches had in common was substandard performances with the ball that left them chasing improbably targets when they came to the crease. At least the previous day, against Holland, they could point to a single moment that turned the game. This one was carnage pretty much from the start - a couple of overs to for the Afghans to get their eye in at the cost of an early wicket, and then Mohammad Shahzad opened his shoulders and the ball started to disappear to all parts of the ground.

He did get a let off when Calum MacLeod could not stop himself hitting the boundary board as he took the catch, but that was about it until he had torn the game from Scottish control. Nothing outside the boundary boards was safe from his assault with poor Mark Watts, the 18-year-old left arm spinner, given particularly brutal treatment with four sixes from consecutive balls in his first over and another from the first ball of his second before he was taken off for the rest of the innings.

To make it even worse for the youngster he later dropped Mohammad Nabi on the third man boundary to complete an afternoon he would much rather forget, with the batsman going on lead the final assault and see his team past the 200 mark with time to spare.

Watt was not alone. The only Scots bowler to escape the Shazad treatment was Michael Leask, something of a redemption for the player whose dropped catch had contributed to the mess of the Holland game - it was a real vote of confidence in his resilience that the spinner was asked to open the bowling and he repaid that in full with final figures of 2 for 24.

What nobody could do was contain Shahzad. Every bad ball was clobbered to the boundary in as good an exhibition of clean hitting as anyone has produced at the Grange ground for many a year, and certainly caught the imagination of the posse of Afghan supporters grouped together on the north of the ground. By the time he holed out to Leask on the long on boundary, he had effectively taken the result away from Scotland, with Asghar Stanikzai and Najib Zadran both keeping up the run rate before Nabi finished Scotland off.

They did give it a bit of a go with MacLeod, Matthew Cross, Richie Berrington and Preston Mommsen all getting going but none of them could find the huge innings that might have brought things closer. "T20 cricket, you are going to be on the end of some big hidings, what matters is how you respond," said Bradburn. "Everybody is going to get the tap from time to time, those are fantastic experiences for our attack. We have played three tough sides but it has been good for us to have such a hard week, I'm sure we will only grow from these games.

"There is pressure on for 120 balls of every T20 game and we have to take every one as it comes, and looking to be better for every experience. We have lots to get our teeth into, reflect on and grow from."