IN THE end, the wide-eyed optimism of a first World Cup victory coming against the Auld Enemy was a stretch too far.
Scotland have never beaten a full Test nation in a One Day International and while they made something of a game of it against their Pool A opponents, England’s tally of 303 was more than enough to see them comfortably over the line.
Winning the toss and putting England in to bat, Scotland skipper Preston Mommsen may have hoped to put the squeeze on a side feeling the tension after two opening defeats to Australia and New Zealand, but there was too much for a Scotland side yet to show what they are capable of in this tournament.
Mommsen said: “We’re very disappointed, having won the toss, with the start we had. Though the second half of the innings I thought we did brilliantly to restrict them to only three hundred with the platform they had, and the batters they had to come, so we went into that half-time break pretty confident that we were in with a shout.
“Unfortunately with the bat we just couldn’t quite get going. I thought Kyle batted beautifully but there was’t enough support and not enough of a platform to give ourselves a proper shot at that chase.
“It’s critical in any format to make sure we’re putting the ball in the right areas and asking the right questions of the batters.
“You know we’re playing against some quality batters there and to give them an easy start it’s difficult to pull it back and we saw that today.”
In the end, the quick wicket failed to materialise and the English openers went about their jobs with authority.
Moeen Ali and Ian Bell piled on the third fastest century partnership seen at this tournament, 100 coming off 100 balls.
Scotland had made two changes to their line-up from their opening match defeat.
Freddie Coleman, brought in for Hamish Gardiner, put Moeen down off the bowling of Josh Davey in just the third over but it was a tough chance off a hard driven ball.
Fast bowler Ali Evans, the second of the changes and appearing in his first World Cup match, was brought in to try and add some penetration to the attack and there was the odd half-chance early on as Bell struggled to find his comfort zone against the Derbyshire seamer.
A big appeal for lbw by Evans against Bell was turned down by the umpire and while Scotland decided against a review, Hawk-eye replays suggested that would have been the early breakthrough they had sought. An array of bowlers were brought on by Mommsen but there was to be no respite as the runs steadily piled up, Ali reaching his century off 91 balls.
Kyle Coetzer, Matt Machan, and Majid Haq were all brought in to try their luck but it was Richie Berrington who claimed the first of the England innings. Bell (54) finally dismissed the man to walk with Coetzer taking the catch.
Scotland, though, refused to lie down and having been 172-0 at one stage England suddenly faltered, losing seven wickets for 102 runs over the course of 93 balls. While not a collapse there was a case of the collywobbles for England as they started to shed wickets.
With Bell gone, Moeen was next to fall as Haq became Scotland’s all time leading wicket taker, the left-hander caught in the deep by Coleman.
Evans then justified his inclusion taking care of Gary Ballance (10) who chopped on to his own stumps. Josh Davey was the next to strike, Joe Root (1) caught behind by Cross.
Three wickets were gone for just two runs and the favourites suddenly found themselves 225/4 with ten overs to go. Scotland were making a game of it.
A first rate piece of wicket-keeping by Matthew Cross removed James Taylor (17). Cross-standing up to the eighty mile an hour bowling of Josh Davey, took a ball wide of off stump as Taylor charged down the wicket and took off the bails in a flash.
Mommsen took two catches in two balls as Davey delivered (4-68) and with Buttler, Morgan and Woakes removed in quick success, Scotland found themselves with a stretch target of 304 for the win.
A solid half century for Kyle Coetzer (71), his sixth in ODI’s, was the bedrock of the Scotland innings but they were unable to match the English run rate throughout. Calum MacLeod added just four before a swipe at Anderson saw him edge behind. Freddie Coleman (7) and Matt Machan (5) were both caught without adding any significant scores to the total.
Captain Mommsen (26) fell to Root having put together a partnership of 50 in 69 balls with Coetzer.
But Coetzer went soon after having racked up 71 off of 84 balls. At 122 for five, the game was far from gone but big hitting Richie Berrington went meekly, chipping to short mid wicket for eight and Scotland’s hope of reaching their target petered out, England securing the win by 119 runs.
It may be two defeats in a row at the Cricket World Cup but Scotland have put in performances that have at least given two full Test teams something to think about.
They now return to the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, and their most winnable match of the tournament against Afghanistan.
Mommsen knows it’s their best opportunity to break their World Cup duck.
“We are a better side than we showed today. There were some things we didn’t do very well, there were some things we did very well.
“We couldn’t quite put it in the full package so that’s very disappointing.
“We will have to go and reflect and assess and see how we’re going to approach that Afghanistan game, that’s obviously a critical game for us.
“Having played them quite a bit before it’s important that we put in a big performance.”
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