MacLeod counters Rashid threat in style

Scotland’s record against Afghanistan in leading into the World Cup qualifiers was unenviable. In their previous seven ODIs, they’d won just once, an anomaly in Abu Dhabi ahead of the 2015 World Cup in which a Josh Davey six-for resulted in Afghanistan being bowled out for 63.
That was before Rashid Khan’s debut. Here, besting one of the tournament favourites seemed a tough ask for Scotland. But Calum MacLeod had other ideas.
The Glaswegian batsman’s third ODI score of 150 or more – an unbeaten 157 off 146 balls – repelled Rashid in a stunning seven-wicket victory for Scotland, thereby throwing the World Cup Qualifier wide open from day one. The feat was special because no other Associate batsman has done it more than once.
MacLeod’s feat put him in rare company as only 12 others in ODI history have scored 150-plus at least thrice in their career. The only six to have done it more than thrice include Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Chris Gayle, Hashim Amla and Sanath Jayasuriya.
Macleod was humbled when presented with this stat byte. “To be honest I’m not in that sort of company,” MacLeod told ESPNcricinfo. “It’s nice. Once you get in and get going, it’s your job to capitalise. It’s something I’ve been lucky enough to do and keep doing it. It’s something I do pride myself on, that once I get in it’s really up to me to go on and make that score as big as possible.”
His other 150-plus scores came against Canada in the previous World Cup Qualifier four years ago in New Zealand and then against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby late last year. However challenging those opponents may have been, facing the No. 1 ranking ODI bowler in the world in his prime is another matter entirely. But MacLeod, who is regarded as one of Scotland’s most aggressive players against spin with an array of sweeps and reverse sweeps in his arsenal, had steeled himself for the challenge in the lead-up to the tournament.
“The only thing I focused on a little bit more here was sweeping,” MacLeod said. “I think the preparation and all the analyst work we’d done said these wickets might spin a bit more. So the couple of months leading up to it, I spent a bit more time practicing the sweep and getting familiar with it again because it’s something I put out of my game a little bit and I’m not entirely sure why.