Shaky Kiwis win

DUNEDIN. — New Zealand limped to a three-wicket win over Scotland yesterday, maintaining the Cricket World Cup momentum only after the minnows gave the co-hosts’ much-vaunted batting line-up a bloody nose. New Zealand skittled Scotland out for 142 after putting them into bat, effectively ensuring there would be no repeat of Monday’s match when Ireland, another non-Test nation, downed the West Indies.

While the Black Caps overhauled their target in 24.5 overs, they could have been in trouble if set a stiffer chase after a strong effort with the ball saw Scotland take seven wickets.

A rash of New Zealand batsmen threw away their wickets chasing glory with wild shots, showing none of the controlled aggression that has made them one of the tournament favourites.

Captain Brendon McCullum said they could not afford to be so wasteful in Wellington on Friday, when they face an England side desperate to bounce back from a 111-run loss to Australia.

“It was a really good performance with the ball – with the bat, we showed glimpses but we have to improve,” he said.

“England will be a challenge – they’re hurting, they’ll be tough to beat and we’ll have to play incredibly well.”

The Black Caps fielded an unchanged line-up from their 98-run win over Sri Lanka, determined not to drop their standards against unfancied opposition.

They appeared set for a crushing win in perfect conditions at Dunedin’s University Oval, claiming early wickets to leave Scotland reeling at 12 for four.

Matt Machan (56) and Richie Berrington (50) were the standouts with a 97-run fifth-wicket partnership in a Scottish innings that featured five ducks — four of them golden.

Corey Anderson and Dan Vettori took three wickets apiece as Scotland folded after 36.2 overs, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee coming close to snatching hat-tricks.

New Zealand made hard work of chasing 143 on pitch were they scored 360 against Sri Lanka last month, with Iain Wardlaw and Josh Davey both taking three wickets for Scotland.

The win was not pretty but man-of-the-match Boult said New Zealand “got the job done”.

McCullum (15), Martin Guptill (17) and Ross Taylor (9) all went cheaply, leaving New Zealand 66 for three early in the innings. Kane Williamson made a good start and reached 38 before he too suffered a rush of blood to the head.

Luke Ronchi, who scored an unbeaten 170 against Sri Lanka at the venue last month, managed just 12 before he was dismissed trying to cart Davey out of the ground.

Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said his side’s stirring display against New Zealand underscored the value of having so-called “second-tier” nations at the World Cup. The Scots gave the Blacks Caps a fright at Dunedin’s University Oval, taking seven wickets before the co-hosts limped to a three-wicket win in pursuit of a meagre victory target of 143.

Mommsen said his attack had exposed New Zealand’s powerful batting line-up, something former world champions Sri Lanka were unable to do when they slumped to a 98-run defeat by the Black Caps in Sunday’s opening match of the tournament.

“I think it showed their batters were vulnerable if you’re able to keep them under pressure consistently and put the balls in good areas, as any batter is,” he said.

Mommsen added he was pleased with the way Scotland responded to a top-order collapse that left his side 12 for four, with half centuries from Matt Machan (56) and Richie Berrington (50) giving them a glimmer of hope.

“I’m very proud of the fightback and character we showed in the second half,” he said.

“I was very disappointed with the first half performance, barring Richie and Matthew . . . but the fighting character, that’s something we’re proud of.”

The Scotland skipper, a strong critic of plans to cut the number of teams at the tournament, said his side had showed “associate” non-Test playing nations could be competitive.

Combined with fellow non-Test nation Ireland’s upset win over the West Indies on Monday, Mommsen said Scotland’s display should prompt a rethink of plans to scale back the event.

“Hopefully the performance we put on today, it gets people talking and shows people that associates belong at World Cups,” he said.

There are 14 teams in the current World Cup being staged in Australia and New Zealand. With the top four teams from each of the two pools of seven qualifying for the quarter-finals, those unhappy with the World Cup’s current format argue that it takes far too long to decide what is often an all-too predictable list of teams for the last eight. — AFP.

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