New Zealand stumbled to a three-wicket win over Scotland in Dunedin to maintain their World Cup momentum on Tuesday.
Victory came 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.
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 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 where they scored 360 against Sri Lanka last month, with Iain Wardlaw and Josh Davey both taking three wickets for Scotland.
Black Caps skipper Brendon 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.
Boult conceded the batting display was less than convincing from a New Zealand side expected to challenge at the sharp end of the tournament.
‘It was a pretty good bowling performance and I suppose everyone got a little bit of a bat as well but we got the job done,’ he said.
New Zealand will face England in Wellington on Friday, while Scotland will face the same opponent in Christchurch on Monday. – AFP