IT TOOK no more than twenty minutes of play for Scotland to face their worst fears in their opening match of the Cricket World Cup as they suffered a top order collapse, losing four wickets for just twelve runs at the University Oval in Dunedin.
World Cup Pool A:
New Zealand: 146-7 (24.5 overs) Williamson 38, Davey 3-40
Scotland: 142 (36.2 overs) Machan 56, Anderson 3-18
New Zealand won by three wickets
University Oval, Dunedin
No side at this tournament had so far failed to breach 300 in the opening innings but against New Zealand the Scots became the first to fall at that statistical hurdle.
But they still ended up giving the home side something of a scare, reducing their hosts to 137-7 at one stage. In the end, there were simply too many overs and too small a target to reasonably defend.
The Scots were put into bat having lost the toss and two of the host nations opening bowlers found themselves on hat-trick balls in the first five overs.
Calum MacLeod and then Hamish Gardner went in quick succession to the hugely impressive Trent Boult in the second over. Both men trapped lbw to in-swinging deliveries. Although his first ball was a wide, he then produced two deliveries which swung and nipped back off the University Oval pitch.
It had already been a nervy first over for Kyle Coetzer, with the only run on the board courtesy of a wide. Three overs and three runs later, both Coetzer and captain Preston Mommsen fell in the space of two balls to Tim Southee.
Coetzer was caught at mid-wicket while Mommsen became the third lbw victim. The Scottish captain immediately asked for a review but there was to be no reprieve.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
Twelve for four was looking calamitous until Matt Machan lived up to the pre-match hype of his skipper with the Sussex left-hander settling nicely into a rhythm.
Punching holes in the Black Caps field, the Scots line up finally found their feet as Machan and Richie Berrington saw off the threat of the new ball and the swinging conditions.
They stuck around long enough to forge a partnership of 93 with Machan reaching his half century off 71 balls. Having displayed a fine array of shots, it was a rather loose swipe which resulted in the end of Scotland’s only meaningful partnership.
A top edge looping back over the bowler still required a fine catch by New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum but it was the end of Machan’s stand.
Richie Berrington racked up his own half century, including a towering six bounced off the television commentary box, but he outlasted Machan by just two further overs, caught by Milne off the bowling of Anderson when another pull shot streaked off the top edge rather than the meat of the bat.
Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said despite the two half centuries both batters eyed a bigger prize.
“When they got in, the ball was still doing a fair bit and they showed great skill to build a platform there and once both had got in, they showed what we could do as a batting unit.
“They are both pretty disappointed that they couldn’t go on because they knew there was potentially one hundred on the cards for one of them, which would have been a great thing for Scottish cricket but it wasn’t to be today but it was a great partnership.
“Still a bit of disappointment we couldn’t scrape together a few more runs from the bottom of the order.”
The final five of Scotland’s line up added just 29 runs as Wardlaw and Haq added to the number of ducks. Scotland ending their innings 142 all out with little over 36 overs bowled.
New Zealand were into bat before lunch and racked up 50 in just 7 overs as they began cruising towards their total.
The Black Caps barely needed to get out second gear; 66 for 2 after 10 overs with the opening power play was in stark contrast to Scotland’s 22 for 4 at the same stage.
While New Zealand were perhaps less than convincing than they have been of late, the one hundred was racked up in just over an hour’s play.
Coaches like to talk of positives and steadily working their way through New Zealand’s top order will be one pleasing aspect of the performance for head coach Grant Bradburn.
The Kiwi’s base their game on power hitting so to dispose of the big names will give the bowling attack confidence for games to come.
Ian Wardlaw ended the innings of big-hitting New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum on just 15, and was also responsible for the wickets of Guptill and Elliot. The 29 year old paceman finishing with figures of 3 for 57.
Josh Davey chipped in taking the wicket of the highly-rated Kane Williamson (38) as well as Anderson (11) and Ronchi (12). While Majid Haq drew level with Craig Wright as Scotland’s leading wicket-taker, Taylor (9) caught by his Scottish namesake at deep mid-wicket from Haq’s familiar off-spin.
This Scotland side like to pride themselves on their fielding so two dropped catches - Gardiner putting down McCullum early on and Wardlaw letting a good chance go by from Anderson - could have meant a rather different story and perhaps may have allowed the visitors to dream a little of a major upset.
Mommsen said, “That is one slight disappointment of that second half is those couple of chances that didn’t go to hand. All in all I’m pretty happy with the fielding display.
“Obviously in order for us to beat a team like New Zealand, like England or Sri Lanka, we need to hang on to every chance we get. If we create ten chances, we need to take ten chances.
“I feel that’s the one way we’re going to be able to beat a full member nation.
“I think when we dropped Corey Anderson at fine leg I thought that was a huge a moment but we kept coming back and kept coming back so to get Corey out eventually and then Luke (Ronchi) we were right in the game.
“All it would take is two in two balls and then they are done.
“We were very close today and I’m very proud of the performance.”
In the end, a thick edge off the bowling of Wardlaw soared over the head of wicket-keeper Cross to seal the win.
Scotland now travel a few hours north to Christchurch for their second match in this tournament though the task may not prove much easier with England their next opponent.