Scotland received another painful World Cup wake-up call yesterday as they were slapped down again by New Zealand’s rampant second-stringers.
A spate of spilled catches and basic fielding blunders allowed the streetwise Kiwis to set a massive target of 370 at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh.
And despite an improved display, the home batsmen couldn’t get within striking range of the tally and they ended up sliding to a 98-run loss.
Now they will turn their attention to salvaging some pride in the final match of the three-leg series at the Grange today.
The latest heavy defeat will add to coach Grant Bradburn’s worries as he looks ahead to the World Cup campaign Down Under in the new year.
Mike Bracewell – nephew of former Ayr pro Brendon – led the New Zealanders’ charge with a century, with Grant Elliott launching a late spree to claim his second ton in succession against the Scots.
Bracewell was let off the hook several times by the butterfingered hosts on his way to 110 and survived a confident lbw shout.
He was eventually yorked by Rob Taylor who, with a three-scalp haul, was Scotland’s best bowler by a country mile.
Another of the visitors with Ayr links, Hamish Rutherford, had also looked destined to break the three-figure barrier, only to perish with a careless stroke just two runs short.
A frustrated and furious Rutherford made his feelings clear by slamming a traffic cone with his bat on the way back to the pavilion.
And Elliott again provided the end of innings fireworks with a quickfire 103 not out from just 51 balls.
The highlight of the Scottish fielding effort was a brilliant two-man catch to get rid of former West of Scotland pro Colin de Grandhomme.
Hamish Gardiner not only blocked off a six, but with both feet off the ground above the boundary rope, he had the presence of mind to flick it backwards to Michael Leask, who pouched it safely.
The Scots reply got off to a horrific start when home-club star George Munsey was trapped lbw by Doug Bracewell before a run was on the board.
Worse was to come as skipper Calum MacLeod missed a straight one from the same bowler to make it 12 for two.
Gardiner and Craig Wallace halted the immediate rot with a breezy stand of 41 before the latter became Bracewell’s third victim for 19.
Richie Berrington and Gardiner maintained the momentum in exciting style, putting on 99.
Berrington (50), Leask (8) and Gardiner (82) were dismissed in quick succession to rule out any prospect of a meaningful challenge.
With the victory assured, the Kiwis released their stranglehold in the final 15 overs, allowing the Scots to tot up a reasonable if not threatening total.
David Murphy (26) and Majid Haq (55) refused to buckle – leaving the Scotland supporters to wonder what might have been had their team taken their chances hours earlier.