ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: New Zealand survive Scotland scare
Dunedin, Feb 17 (IANS) A commendable bowling performance set up New Zealand's three-wicket victory against Scotland in a cricket World Cup Pool A match here on Tuesday.
The Cup co-hosts, among the top contenders to win the mega tournament, first put on a superb bowling display to shoot out the minnows for a paltry 142 runs in 36.2 overs. But their batting left a lot to be desired as they lost wickets at regular intervals, barely managing to win by three wickets.
They still won by 151 balls to spare, but their laboured batting performance would raise some uncomfortable questions for skipper Brendon McCullum. New Zealand were pushed to an uncomfortable position in what was a routine run chase after being reduced to 117 for five in 21 overs.
Scotland's right-arm pacer Iain Wardlaw (3/57) struck meaty blows to check New Zealand's attempted quick march to victory. Fellow right-armer Josh Davey (3/40) also chipped in.
The home team began their chase on a strong note with opener Martin Guptill (17) striking four crisp boundaries. But he was soon sent to the pavilion by Wardlaw in the third over.
Skipper McCullum (15) also perished soon because of his over-aggressiveness. No.3 batsman Kane Williamson (38) stitched together a useful 40-run fourth-wicket partnership with Grant Elliott (29) to move New Zealand towards victory.
Williamson's dismissal on in the 18th over, however, triggered a collapse as they were reduced to 137 for seven in the 24th over. But the low total New Zealand were chasing meant they eventually managed to get over the finishing line.
Earlier, the home team's strong bowling display reduced Scotland to a meagre first innings score of 142. Left-arm pacer Corey Anderson led the bowling figures with 3/18, and he was well supported by veteran spinner Daniel Vettori (3/24) and the opening pace pair of Tim Southee (2/35) and Trent Boult (2/21).
The co-hosts, who won the toss and chose to bowl, went in to the match with an unchanged side that won so impressively against Sri Lanka on Saturday. McCullum based his decision hoping to exploit the moist pitch conditions.
And his judgement was backed up by some superb bowling by his opening pace pair who were right on the money from the very beginning and quickly reduced the minnows to 12 for four inside five overs with Boult striking with the first two legal balls he bowled.
The innings was resurrected to some extent by a 97-run partnership between left-hand batsman Matt Machan (56) and right-hander Richie Berrington (50), but the rest of their batting fell away as New Zealand wrapped up their innings in just 36.2 overs.
The lower order barely offered any resistance and was shot out without any difficulty. Four Scottish batsmen were dismissed for nought; only the the second time it has happened in One-Dayers.