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Kyle Coetzer swelled with pride when considering how Scotland have fared in recent weeks as they bowed out of the T20 World Cup with a 72-run defeat to Pakistan at Sharjah.
Scotland may have finished bottom of group two in the Super 12s with five successive defeats but they were not expected to get this far, having qualified after upsetting Bangladesh then beating Papua New Guinea and Oman.
There have been some tough learnings for Scotland, who were bowled out for 60 by Afghanistan while their game against India lasted just 24.1 overs as they were thrashed by eight wickets, but there have also been high spots.
New Zealand were stretched closer than they would have liked in a 16-run win but while they rarely threatened to hand Pakistan a first defeat of the tournament, Coetzer reflected with some pleasure in their accomplishments.
He insisted this is not the end, though, saying: “I’m extremely proud of how we’ve played and what we’ve achieved. We’ve got an excellent group and the guys are willing to learn and are trying to learn as fast as they can.
“Being exposed to what we have been exposed to in the Super 12s is only going to make us stronger and make us actually realise some of the skills on show and some of the efforts you have to put in to achieve it at this level.
“I think we’ve shown on a couple of occasions almost what we’re capable of, we’ve got plenty left in the tank. There’s plenty to learn from and plenty to try and improve when we go home.
“It’s a huge achievement to get to the Super 12s and that’s certainly going to put us in a better place moving forward. When we go home we have to be bold and brave and make sure we push our whole organisation forward.”
In qualifying from what was ostensibly the preliminary round, Scotland guaranteed their place at the next T20 World Cup in Australia in 12 months’ time, and Coetzer hopes their journey has encouraged youngsters watching back home.
He said: “That’s why we’re here: we get to try and give it all for our country and be able to inspire as many people as we possibly can.
“That’s how I started many years ago, watching Scotland play in the World Cup, and hopefully there will be a few more boys and girls coming through that will want to play cricket for their country.”
Shoaib Malik set a new Pakistan record for the fastest T20 half-century off just 18 balls, equalling the tournament record set by India’s KL Rahul against the same opponents on Friday, smashing six sixes and three in the last over.
An unbeaten 54 from Malik plus Babar Azam’s 66 from 47 balls, his fourth 50-plus score in five innings, helped Pakistan add 114 runs in the last eight overs to propel their side to 189 for four, with Scotland restricted to 117 for six.
Pakistan therefore topped the group with five wins out of five to seal a semi-final clash against Australia, runners-up in the other group, at Dubai on Thursday.
Asked whether Pakistan can overwhelm their next opponents, the evergreen Malik, 39, said: “It’s way too early to discuss that.
“We have a few days in between. I’m sure the team’s going to sit down to talk about the semis, and run through the important things with the opposition in mind.
“Being a professional, you should only look at what’s ahead of you, and now the team’s focused on the semi-final and how to maintain the consistency we have shown this tournament.”