Scotland may have lost their first ODI World Cup match against the event's co-hosts New Zealand in Dunedin, but they had plenty to be encouraged about in their close three wicket defeat at the end. With a modest total of just 142 to defend, the Scots almost took advantage of a curiously frenetic run chase by the Kiwis, but ultimately were unable to claim the final wickets that would have seen them claim an historic victory.
The win puts New Zealand in a strong initial position in Pool A, with two wins out of two so far in the tournament. They were made to work harder for their triumph than had seemed likely though after Scotland's small total. The Scots struggled from the off in their 50 over innings, being reduced to 12-4 by just the fifth over, as the home side took firm control of the match. Their initial struggles were in the main caused by the new-ball bowling of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, who picked up two wickets apiece. Respectability was at least gained to a degree, as Matt Machan with 56 and Richie Berrington with 50 added 97 runs for the fifth wicket.
Wickets were tumbling at an alarming rate during the visitors' innings, with four batsmen falling for a golden duck, an historic event for a #Cricket World Cup. Indeed, the occurrence is a rarity in all ODI internationals down through the years, with only two others ever witnessing such an instance. The Scots were finally all out in the 37th over, as Daniel Vettori (3-24) and Corey Anderson (3-18) finished off the tail.
The Black Caps were expected to cruise to their target in response, but did not enjoy the kind of performance that their fans would have been looking for from them, in order to set down a benchmark for the rest of the event. They did, however, make it over the line in the end with over 25 overs to spare, despite being reduced somewhat alarmingly to 146-7 by the close. Several of their wickets were not really necessary, as players were caught out in the deep going for big shots. Top scorer for the home team was Kane Williamson with 38. For the Scots, wicketkeeper Matt Cross took four catches, while Josh Davey and Iain Wardlaw profited from the New Zealanders recklessness to the tune of 3 wickets each.
Scotland's captain Preston Mommsen remained upbeat about his side's performance afterwards, claiming that they had given New Zealand some "jittery moments" despite the defeat. He was one of the men out disappointedly from their first ball.
The Kiwis currently top Pool A with a net run rate of +2.62 and more importantly, the maximum four points so far. Their attempt to finish the game quickly was perhaps with at least half an eye on the potential importance of the run rate in the final group standings, yet they came perilously close to losing the game as a result.They now move on to face England on Friday in Wellington, in what already looks like a crucial game for the visitors, after their struggles against the Aussies in their first game.