The pressure is on Scotland and no mistake. The 2004 ICC Intercontinental Cup champion heads into its game with Namibia in Windhoek on Friday knowing that nothing less than an outright victory and maximum points will be acceptable as it struggles to stay in touch with the rest of the teams on the log.
A couple of damaging rain-affected draws earlier in this 2007-08 edition of the competition together with a comfortable win over Netherlands have left Ryan Watson's men with just 26 points from a possible 60 and although they have one game in hand over all the teams ahead of them, except Ireland, now is the time for the Scots to make their move.
"It is a must-win game for us," said captain Watson. "We have been hurt by the weather in previous fixtures and so it has not turned out how we wanted but we still have a chance.
"They (Namibia) are in the middle of their season and have been doing well in the South African competition they play in so this match is going to be one hell of a challenge," he said.
Ironically, having got on the road and away from the unpredictable Scottish weather, there is a chance that this four-day game in a region that boasts the famous Kalahari Desert could be interrupted by rain. There has been an unusually large amount of rainfall in the Windhoek area in recent weeks and the Met Office has predicted a mixture of sunshine and showers for the next few days.
"There's nothing we can do about that. We have prepared well for this tour. We've been here for a week now and we had a good win over a Namibia Invitational XI. Ideally we would have had one more preparation game but I think we are ready to go. No excuses, we know it will be tough but we have a good side," said Watson.
Without the services of Dougie Brown and Kyle Coetzer, the Scots will rely on the experience of Gavin Hamilton, Fraser Watts, Neil McCallum and the skipper for the majority of their runs while seamer John Blain has been in good form of late with the ball.
The pitch at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek is normally a batsman's dream but with all the rain that has been around, it is not known how it will play this time. It might even take a bit of spin and in that case Majid Haq could come to the fore for the Scots.
The 25-year-old off-spinning all-rounder, who works in his family's take-away restaurant business when not playing cricket, will be anxious to show what he can do when the chips are down against Namibia's array of Burgers.
This will be particularly so as Warwickshire County Cricket Club in England has been showing a hungry interest in him. No doubt the director of cricket at Edgbaston, former England left-arm slow bowler Ashley Giles, will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Windhoek.
As for Namibia, confidence is high with the south-west Africans topping the ICC Intercontinental Cup table ahead of Kenya in second place and defending champion Ireland in third. At this stage, Namibia is favourite to make the final but captain Louis Burger is not looking that far ahead.
"Scotland is a really good team and we know it's going to be a tough battle for us. They will come hard at us because they know they need full points from this game or they are probably out of contention," said Burger.
"But the atmosphere in our team is very good. Everyone is happy and confidence is high so we are not going to be a pushover either. We love this competition, we take it very seriously and before it started we targeted a place in the final. We know that if we can just focus on our game and do what we do well, we should be OK," he added.
The Namibia squad reads like a list of in-form players. Gerri Snyman, Craig Williams, Jan-Berrie Burger and Bjorn Kotze are all in the runs while Louis Klazinga, Kola Burger and Snyman are all in a hot streak with ball in hand.
The scene is set ? form versus necessity. It could be an epic battle.
Namibia (squad): Louis Burger (captain), JB Burger, Raymond van Schoor, Gerri Snyman, Deon Kotze, Bjorn Kotze, Kola Burger, Tobias Verwey, Louis Klazinga, Craig Williams, Sean Silver, Sarel Burger, Nicolaas Scholtz.
Scotland (from): Ryan Watson (Captain), Richard Berrington, John Blain, Gordon Drummond, Gavin Hamilton, Majid Haq, Omer Hussain, Dougie Lockhart, Neil McCallum, Dewald Nel, Glenn Rogers, Qasim Sheikh, Simon Smith, Fraser Watts, Sean Weeraratna, Craig Wright.
Umpires: Russell Tiffin (Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires) and Jeff Luck (ICC Associates and Affiliates Panel)
The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception three years ago and now the ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada in the 2006-07 event.
The final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 will take place in November 2008 in the United Arab Emirates.
ICC Intercontinental Cup table (as of 3 April)
Team P WO WI D LI LO T Points
Namibia 4 4 3 - 1 - - 68
Kenya 4 3 4 - - 1 - 66
Ireland 3 2 3 1 - - - 49
Netherlands 4 2 1 - 2 2 - 34
Canada 4 1 2 - 2 3 - 26
Scotland 3 1 1 2 1 - - 26
UAE 6 1 1 1 4 4 - 23
Bermuda 4 0 1 - 3 4 - 6
WO - outright win - 14 points
WI - lead on first innings (also retained if outright loss) - 6 points
LI - behind on first innings - 0 points
LO - outright loss - 0 points
TO - outright tie - 7 points each
TI - tie first innings - 3 pts each
D - draw - 3 pts each
3-6 Apr - UAE v Netherlands, Sharjah Stadium
4-7 Apr - Namibia v Scotland, Windhoek
4-7 Jul - Canada v Bermuda, Toronto (Maple Leaf)
9-12 Jul - Netherlands v Ireland, Rotterdam (VOC)
10-13 Jul - Bermuda v Scotland, TBC
16-19 Jul - Canada v Scotland, Toronto (Maple Leaf)
6-9 Aug - Ireland v Canada, TBC
7-10 Aug - Scotland v Kenya, Glasgow (Clydesdale CC)
16-19 Aug - Netherlands v Kenya, Amsterdam (VRA CC)
3-6 Sep - Bermuda v Namibia, TBC
5-8 Oct - Namibia v Ireland, TBC
12-15 Oct - Kenya v Ireland, TBC
12-16 Nov ? FINAL, UAE
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