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India beat Scotland by seven wickets

Gambhir and Uthappa score half-centuries to steer visitors to a seven-wicket victory, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2007 12:41 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Thursday was a time to party at the Clydesdale Cricket Club ground where hosts Scotland played their maiden One-day International (ODI) against India for the Royal Stag Cup.

The club members could finally host their maiden ODI due to the grace of the rain gods after the earlier two ODIs scheduled here were washed out last month. The thousand-odd spectators got to see some world-class cricket.

The semi-professional ground staff enjoyed the business of putting the covers on and taking them off during the two brief rain intervals. Neil McCullam and Gavin Hamilton shaped the Scotland innings with an 82-run fifth-wicket stand after the hosts were reduced to 49 for four.

Opening stand

Robin Uthappa (55 off 62) and Gautam Gambhir (85 not out off 115) put on 104 for the opening wicket in India's comfortable chase when their target was revised to 209 off 46 overs after Scotland managed to put up a decent score of 203 for nine. Most charmingly, the bunch of kids who acted as ballboys were more than happy to play a game on the field during the innings break and acquire autographs of some of their cricket heroes.

True, the locals were disappointed not to see Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Zaheer Khan, in action. As predicted by the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, the three were rested for this match. But the spectators were entertained more than enough, first by the Scottish trio of McCullam (41), Hamilton (44) and veteran Wright (37 off 34), and then by the Indian openers and Yuvraj Singh (38 off 28).

Well tossed up

When India skipper Rahul Dravid won the toss, he was quick to put Scotland in looking at the overcast conditions and a two-paced wicket.

While new-ball bowlers Ajit Agarkar (two for 54) and Rudra Pratap Singh (two for 26) looked effective whenever they pitched the ball in the right areas, Agarkar, who was playing barely 48 hours after arriving from Mumbai, struggled with his line and length.

Munaf Patel, making a comeback after being sent back from Bangladesh in May, didn't appear to be bowling at his 100 per cent.

We'll know in due course whether he still had some fitness problems or it had more to do with the soggy outfield.

Running chase

India's run-chase saw Uthappa and Gambhir launching an attack on the Scottish medium-pacers once the duo had a look in. Uthappa exhibited his trademark straight drive at will, Gambhir also played some fantastic drives, besides his forte - that of scoring runs aplenty square on either sides of the wicket.

Yuvraj's dismissal, when India were just 11 runs shy of victory, gave the fans and Dravid a reason to cheer as Dravid had represented Scotland in the 2003 season. There couldn't have been an ideal conclusion of the match than Dravid hitting the winning runs, and he did so when he flicked John Blain for a boundary in the 40th over.