West Indies crumble to Scotland; fail to qualify for ODI World Cup for first time

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West Indies crumble to Scotland; fail to qualify for ODI World Cup for first time

Scotland 185 for 3 (Cross 74*, McMullen 69) beat West Indies 181 (Holder 45, McMullen 3-32, Watt 2-25) by seven wickets

Five years ago in Harare, West Indies were the beneficiaries of a controversial umpiring decision and a timely rain interruption that secured their place in the 2019 ODI World Cup, at Scotland’s expense. There was no such luck for the two-time champions in 2023, as West Indies crashed out of the running to qualify for the World Cup in India by suffering a seven-wicket loss to Scotland in Harare.

Thus the 13th edition of the ODI World Cup will be the first without the West Indies, who won the first two tournaments in 1975 and 1979, and also made the final in 1983.

Scotland, meanwhile, are strong contenders for one of two World Cup spots up for grabs at the Qualifiers; they have four points, while Super Six leaders Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have six each. Allrounder Brandon McMullen was the star with both ball and bat, taking three wickets and scoring a half-century in Scotland’s maiden ODI win against West Indies.

West Indies came into this match knowing that a loss would knock them out because of the Qualifier format, which had them carrying forward zero points from the group stage to the Super Six.

To pile on the pressure, Scotland captain Richie Berrington asked them to bat in tough conditions, and their top three fell to McMullen within the first six overs. Johnson Charles was out slashing a wide ball to slip, Shamarh Brooks wafted one to cover point, and Brandon King was double-bluffed by the cover fielder being pushed back, and ended up spooning a full and straight ball back to the bowler. Chris Sole went bouncer and then length to send Kyle Mayers’ off stump cartwheeling. Shai Hope’s attempt to temper aggression with caution was ended by Safyaan Sharif, who dialled back the clock to their face-off in the 2018 Qualifier by opening up and nicking off Hope. McMullen bowled nine overs on the trot and ended with match-winning figures of 3 for 32.

Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran focussed on stabilising a rocky start, batting together for 50 balls and scoring only 21 runs. But Mark Watt tempted Pooran with a flighted ball that was slog-swept, out of nowhere, into the hands of Christopher McBride at the cow-corner boundary.

Romario Shepherd joined Holder to put on 77 runs for the seventh wicket, but when Shepherd tried to raise the tempo in the 37th over, he was caught by a flying Sharif at point. Three balls later, Chris Greaves trapped Holder lbw and West Indies were eventually all out for 181 in the 44th over.

Scotland lost McBride in the first over of the chase but that wicket united McMullen with Matthew Cross and the pair carefully negotiated the new-ball threat. In the 12th over, Akeal Hosein lured McMullen into a slog sweep but Mayers dropped the chance at deep midwicket.

McMullen flat-batting a hard-length ball from Alzarri Joseph for a six down the ground in the 17th over indicated that he was in control of the chase. Both batters predominantly worked the ball around, rotated strike and racked up fifties during their 125-run stand. When McMullen found long-on off Joseph, Scotland did not panic as Cross was there to continue guiding the chase, first with George Munsey and then with Berrington, to complete victory in the 44th over.

For West Indies, this defeat continued their decline in white-ball cricket. The two-time T20 World Cup champions had crashed out in the group stage of that tournament last year. It led to a major white-ball shake-up with Pooran stepping down as captain and Daren Sammy being appointed as the white-ball coach. Sammy joined forces with the new Shai Hope for this World Cup Qualifier, but the campaign has been disappointing, with defeats to Zimbabwe, Netherlands and now Scotland ending West Indies’ chances of qualifying for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India this October.