For the second day in a row, the 2022 T20I World Cup produced a shock result.
On Sunday it had been the turn of Namibia to defeat Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka in Geelong.
Just 24 hours later Scotland grabbed centre stage, beating two times winners the West Indies by 42 runs in Hobart.
Meanwhile, it was Zimbabwe who triumphed over the Irish the same day.
Past champions slump in Hobart
The West Indies are the only team to have won the World Cup twice, but, based on this evidence, there is a lot of work for them to do just to make the Super 12 stage of the competition this year.
What appeared to a one-sided contest – the team ranked 7th in the world against the Scots, eight places below them did turn out to be a mismatch, but not as most people had expected.
The Scots, who had been put into bat after losing the toss, had started well, and had reached 52 without loss before there was a rain interruption.
The delay allowed the West Indies bowlers to regroup, and they were able to exert more control after it, and the scoring rate slowed.
Opener George Munsey held the Scotland innings, together, making 66 off 53 balls, with is innings containing 9 fours, three of them coming off the final over. Useful cameos were provided by Callum MacLeod and Chris Greaves, but the final total of 160/5 did not seem it should be enough if the West Indies played to their full potential.
The West Indies proved though to be their own worst enemies, choosing either to block deliveries or go for big shots, with little concept of rotating the strike.
Whilst the Scottish fielding was faultless and the bowlers – particularly Mark Watt who took 3 – 12, and Michael Leask who claimed 1 – 15 – did well – too many of the batters gave their wickets away.
Former captain Jason Holder, who made 38 off 33 balls, to go with his 2 – 14 with the ball earlier in the match, did emerge with some credit, but most of his team-mates will not look back on this match with any fondness.
Their final total of 118 all out was well below par, and serious questions will now be asked about their preparations.
Not only did they lose by 42 runs, but their inferior Net Run Rate means they now have to win their next two group matches if they are to have any hopes of being involved in the Super 12 stage of the tournament.
Zimbabwe make a winning start
It was 11th versus 12th in the ICC team rankings later that day as Zimbabwe took on Ireland.
Put into bat, Zimbabwe initially struggled and were 37/3 when Sikandar Raza came to the crease. But he proceeded to make 82 off 48 balls, including 5 sixes and five fours, and helped his team post a competitive score of 174/7.
Ireland never recovered from losing their first four wickets with just 22 runs on the board inside the first four overs. The middle order attempted to lead a recovery, but the task always looked beyond them, and they eventually finished their innings on 144/9.
Paceman Blessing Muzarabani took 3 – 23, whilst both Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava finished with the same figures of 2 – 22.
Zimbabwe had won by 31 runs in their first World Cup game since 2016 (the country was in the international wilderness for a period of years after being suspended by the ICC because of government interference as to how the sport was played in the country).
Afterwards Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said that he was bitterly disappointed by how his team had played but there were no illusions as to what was required now if they want to stay in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s revival continues (despite their ODI loss at home to India).
What happens next
On Wednesday, the West Indies play Zimbabwe and Scotland will face Ireland. For both the West Indies and Ireland the equation is simple. Win or they go home. And, even then, with Net Run Rate counting in the event of a tie on points, it could all come down to the final set of group games on Friday.
The top two will advance to the Super 12 stage of the competition.
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