Sloppy batting makes New Zealand sweat against Scotland

Co-hosts give Scots a glimmer of hope in Dundein after ominous bowling performance

New Zealand’s Trent Boult was named man of the match in their three wicket win over Scotland in Dunedin. (Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s Trent Boult was named man of the match in their three wicket win over Scotland in Dunedin. (Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The argument on behalf of the associates, so eloquently delivered by the Irish in Nelson, was not greatly enhanced by the Scots in Dunedin. Under a cloudless sky in a sublime setting at the University Oval, Scotland were bundled out for 142, a total which was overtaken within 25 overs. Even the New Zealanders present on the grassy banks of one of the most attractive international grounds on the globe, who are rock solid behind their team, would have liked a little more entertainment and further opportunities to pluck lucrative one-handed catches from six hits.

But it could have been much, much worse for the Scots; they were 12-4 after five overs having been put into bat. Four of their players were dismissed first ball, a record in World Cup cricket. To general relief Matt Machan and Richie Berrington added 97 together for the fifth wicket. Between them they scored 68% of Scotland’s total, the second highest percentage ever. Then in pursuit of a modest target New Zealand contrived to lose seven wickets in a slapdash display of batting. Moreover during that wanton period two difficult catches were spilt by the Scots.

This was all bewildering to behold and the upshot was that the Scots could, at least, leave Dunedin with heads held high and the odd wry smile. This could have been an embarrassing contest. Afterwards Trent Boult, the man of the match after his early wickets, acknowledged, “If I’m rushing around the dressing room putting my pads on then we must be in a bit of trouble.”

Boult set the tone in a lethal first over – once he had got the first-ball wide out of his system. His next two deliveries swung into the front pads of Calum Macleod and Hamish Gardiner bang in front of the stumps. It is necessary to be relaxed to make the ball swing and Boult had plenty to be relaxed about.

On Friday he had been bought by the Hyderabad Sunrisers to play in the IPL for the first time, and for much more than expected – US$ 633,000. He had watched the auction on a laptop with other interested colleagues in the Kiwi dressing room. “They were elated for me. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and very exciting but at the moment my focus is still on the World Cup,” he reassured us.

To be fair to Scotland’s upper order Boult’s swinging deliveries in his first over might have dismissed regular Test openers, let alone Macleod and Gardiner. As Brendon McCullum had predicted at the toss the ball was only likely to move for half-an-hour or so but this left-arm paceman when on top of his game can be devastating in that time. At the other end Tim Southee soon found himself on a hat-trick as well after Kyle Coetzer clipped to mid-wicket and captain Preston Mommsen was lbw, his desperate review bringing him no relief.

From this rubble Machan and Berrington pluckily forged their partnership. Machan, a stout left-hander, who has now cemented his place in the Sussex side, played the most eye-catching strokes. An early hook off Southee raced to the square-leg boundary; there were powerful flat-footed cover drives as the ball began to behave more decorously. In this instance a face-saving half-century was all that Scotland could hope for; on another Machan could be a match-winner. Berrington also posted 50, managing to crack a Daniel Vettori delivery for a memorable straight six.

Theirs was a fine partnership but then the Scots adopted their old associate persona again. Corey Anderson’s bouncers brought the game back into New Zealand’s control and nowadays associate cricketers are supposed to be untroubled them. Both Machan and Berrington succumbed when trying to hook or pull, while Matthew Cross glided another short ball to the keeper. Vettori was on hand to mop up the tail leaving the promising Josh Davey stranded. Eight wickets had fallen to left-handed bowlers, a glimmer of light here for the Scots since in their next game against England they will not encounter anyone who bowls with his left-arm.

New Zealand’s batting was surprisingly frenetic. Whatever words of wisdom were spoken between the innings it looked as if the Kiwis were unable to avoid the trap of thinking the game was already over. Iain Wardlaw, once of Yorkshire, who has never climbed Everest – despite all the biographies knocking around suggesting that he has – kept finding the outside edges of flailing bats in between the boundaries and collected three wickets. So too did Davey, who induced Anderson and Luke Ronchi to hole out to boundary fielders.

At the end there was no need for Mommsen, Scotland’s captain to be red-faced, after all. “We showed a lot of fight in the second half. Overall I’m pretty proud of our performance,” he said. At one point it looked as if he might have had to issue a grim-faced apology to all his fellow associates.

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