New Zealand crush hapless Irish
New Zealand 402 for 2 (McCullum 166, Marshall 161) beat Ireland 112 (Southee 3-23, Mason 3-34) by 290 runs
It was a day of records and near-records at Mannofield Park in Aberdeen, as a rampant New Zealand team totally outclassed a threadbare Ireland by a record ODI margin of 290 runs. New Zealand, put in to bat, did much as they pleased with the weakened Irish attack. The star performers were Brendon McCullum with 166 and James Marshall on 161, both hitting their maiden ODI hundreds. The opening partnership of 266 was only 20 runs short of the world record, achieved by Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka against England, two years ago to the day.
Ireland, already depleted by players opting to stay with their counties and a host of others unavailable, were struck by another late injury blow. Allrounder Alex Cusack, who won the Man-of-the-Match award on his debut against South Africa last year, had to pull out with a broken finger. Captain Kyle McCallan, Andre Botha and Reinhardt Strydom were the only players remaining from Ireland's last ODI, against Bangladesh, in Dhaka.
With the home side not involved, fewer than 100 spectators were present to watch the slaughter. The weather was dry, with the sun showing through the light cloud cover occasionally, but blustery, and the wind worsened during the day. If Ireland thought it might help their bowlers, they were sadly deceived.
New Zealand, after ending a stressful tour of England with one-day success, were relaxed in their approach but not careless or over-confident. Peter Connell beat the bat a couple of times early on, but otherwise the batsmen were never in trouble. In the seventh over McCullum decided it was time to take charge. Lashing out, he hit two skiers off Connell over the covers, beyond the reach of the fielders, taking two runs apiece. The next two went for four, and he was set. Philip Eagleston went for successive sixes over long leg and midwicket, and McCullum raced to his fifty off 37 balls.
Perhaps his colleagues slipped a tranquillizer into his morning drink, because he slowed down for a while after that, even allowing balls faced to exceed runs scored. Then he lofted McCallan for two successive sixes, and was away again. His hundred came off 107 balls, and his onslaught then became so fierce that his next fifty took only 20 more deliveries. Finally, though, with the world record ODI opening partnership record seemingly within their grasp - and the first ODI double century on offer - McCullum was out to a fine boundary catch as he aimed for yet another six over cover. His figures: 166 runs off 135 balls, with 11 fours and 10 sixes.
Marshall had been overshadowed, but when McCullum left he took over his mantle and began to hit out; in fact, the hectic scoring rate actually increased, with Ross Taylor also cashing in. Marshall's century came up off 120 balls and a further fifty came in the next 14, even exceeding McCullum's rate. In the final over he skied a catch, well held by the bowler, and departed for 161 off 141 deliveries. Taylor finished with an unbeaten 59 off 24. New Zealand's 402 for 2 beat their 397 for 5 against a decimated Zimbabwe team two years ago.
If this had been a boxing match, the referee would have stepped in long before, but Ireland had to keep going to the bitter end. They never gave up trying and even at the end fielders were still diving for the ball, usually in vain, and backing up with vigour. Their only realistic hope was to put up a good enough batting display to allow themselves to finish with dignity and to score more than 146, which would enable them to avoid the heaviest defeat in ODI history - India's World Cup victory over Bermuda by 257 runs in 2007.
This they were unable to do, though it cannot be said that they gave it away early on. Strydom began defiantly by driving Tim Southee through the covers for four second ball. But the approach was perhaps a little too aggressive, given the hopelessness of the situation. The batsmen went for their strokes and there was a steady slide of wickets, rather than a collapse. A more measured approach would surely have resulted in a better total. Opener Gary Wilson (21), for example, was their one recognised batsman to reach 20, but it came off only 17 balls. Southee and Michael Mason took three wickets each, but the innings did not even last 29 overs.
After the match, McCallan confessed it had been a humiliating experience for his team, that they had set themselves batting targets but totally failed to meet them. He was not willing to make excuses, but added his team needed to come out fighting in their match against Scotland on Tuesday. Daniel Vettori for his part was very pleased with the professional performance of his team, and paid tribute to his openers: "The way they set their innings out was amazing."