Michael Leask shoulders blame for Scotland’s missed opportunity

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A deflated Michael Leask shouldered the blame after Scotland were held to a nail-biting tie in their World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe.

With just two runs needed to win, Scotland lost two wickets in three balls to be dismissed for 210 in the final over of the match that sees them drop to second place in their group.

Brad Wheal was the final man out, caught behind for a golden duck after Mark Watt had holed out at the end of the previous over, and Leask admitted the decision to cross while the ball was in the air, and effectively give Wheal the strike, had cost them the match.

“It’s probably partly on my shoulders a bit,” he told Cricket Scotland. “I messed up a bit from one end and ran past Watty, not realising it was the last ball of the over, which left Whealy to face it.

“I partially take that on my shoulders.”

That the Saltires were even in a position to claim the win was down to a fine all-round performance from Leask, who had been forced to rescue his side from a perilous 173 for eight and take them to the brink of victory before running out of partners in a result which sees Zimbabwe claim top spot as both sides advance to the Super Sixes.

He earlier took four for 37 with the ball, supporting Safyaan Sharif who claimed five for 33 as Scotland again bowled brilliantly to restrict the host nation to just 210 despite contributions from Brendan Taylor (44) and Craig Ervine (57).

“It ebbed and flowed at times,” Leask said. “They had momentum at times with the bat and we pulled it back nicely, and again with the bat we lost a couple of quick wickets and it was left to myself and Watty to try and get us close.

“We got too close and just couldn’t put the final stake in.”

Scotland’s batting has been an issue throughout the qualification tournament, struggling to knock off low totals, and it was apparent early on that they would struggle once more.

In-form skipper Kyle Coetzer shone briefly but fell for 37, and there was little support for Richie Berrington (47) as Scotland slipped to 173 for eight, leaving them staring down the barrel of what could have been a costly defeat.

However, Leask was joined at the crease by Watt and together the pair added 36 before the latter, attempting to get the game over the line, attempted one big shot too many and was out caught.

The two men crossed while running giving Blessing Muzarabani the chance to have a go at Wheal and after delivering a wide, he made no mistake as he had the Hampshire quick caught behind.

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