Saltires hold nerve in tough chase
Scotland produced an assured performance to send Leicestershire crashing to a four-wicket defeat in a nail-biting finish to the Clydesdale Bank 40 clash at Grace Road.
The Saltires reached a target of 218 with two balls to spare, helped by half-centuries from George Bailey and Richie Berrington.
But it was Neil McCallum who clinched victory for the Saltires in their opening game of the campaign, hitting 27 off 19 balls with two fours and a massive six off Matthew Hoggard off the final ball of the 39th over.
The defeat was the Foxes’ third in a row in Group C after they had started the season with an impressive victory over Nottinghamshire.
For Scotland the win signalled a welcome return to form after they failed to reach the World Twenty20 finals, losing all three of their group qualifying games.
They fully deserved the success over Leicestershire, producing a solid all-round team performance after losing the toss.
The Scotland bowlers restricted the home side to a below-par 217 for seven despite conceding 20 wides in a total of 25 extras.
But they still managed to contain the Leicestershire batsmen with only Jacques du Toit and James Taylor finding any form. Both scored half-centuries as they shared a second-wicket stand of 105.
Du Toit reached his fifty off 70 balls with three fours and a six before trying one big hit too many to be caught on the long-on boundary off Ryan Watson.
Taylor, whose half-century came off 68 balls, was run out with a direct hit from Watson with the total on 141 and, from that point on, Leicestershire were unable to put any real pressure on the Scotland attack.
Paul Nixon made a run-a-ball 34 but there was little support for him and with Gordon Goudie claiming 3-45 Scotland could be happy with their work in the field.
Scotland did just as well with the bat, staying up with the asking rate after being given a steady start by Gavin Hamilton and Watson.
Bailey and Berrington gave the middle of the innings a boost with their half-centuries with Bailey reaching his off 67 balls and Berrington taking only 51 deliveries.
When both were out in the closing overs it looked as though Leicestershire might edge home, but McCallum shattered those hopes.