SCOTLAND launched their marathon bid to qualify for the 2023 World Cup with a disheartening defeat to Oman at Mannofield, Aberdeen, yesterday.

Defending a meagre tally of 168 in the first of their 36 World Cup League 2 fixtures to be played over the next three years, the Scottish attack lacked penetration as Oman cruised to their target for the loss of just two wickets.

Mark Watt raised hopes of a fightback when he trapped Jatinder Singh lbw for 19. However, ODI debutant Adrian Neill was the only other bowler to enjoy success when he took a return catch to remove Aqib Ilyas for 61.

By then Ilyas had helped man-of-the-match Khawar Ali add 123 for the second wicket as the Omanis knocked-off the runs with ease.

Ali, who had starred with the ball, finished unbeaten on 79, having stroked five boundaries and clouted two maximums out of the ground.

Earlier Scotland’s out-of-sorts batsmen squandered an excellent start to find themselves bowled out well short of a competitive tally. Skipper Kyle Coetzer and opening partner Matthew Cross, both back in their home city, took advantage of the hard ball to send it regularly flying towards the boundary. The pair put on 71 in 13 overs before Cross, having hit 33 with two boundaries and a maximum, popped-up an easy catch to extra cover.

However, rather than building on such a promising platform, the Scots suffered a dreadful collapse and were soon teetering on 113-6, Coetzer having also departed for his side’s top score. The former Durham and Northants batsman made 56 with four boundaries and one six but there was little support from the normally free-scoring home team.

It was left to Forfarshire’s Craig Wallace to attempt to salvage the crumbling innings and his gutsy 36 kept the Oman bowlers briefly at bay but when he was last out the Scots had limped to 168 and had failed to use 32 of their allotted deliveries.

Leg-spinner Ali did the bulk of the damage, kicking-off his all-round heroics with four for 23, his best bowling figures in an international.

Coetzer’s side will bid to bounce back when they face Papua New Guinea tomorrow and will then play both sides again at the same venue.

The Scots must finish in the top three of the seven-team World Cup League 2 to progress to the global qualifier for the 2023 World Cup in India.