Last-ball run out spares New Zealand's blushes
New Zealand XI 263 (Anderson 53, McCullum 52, Berrington 3-66) beat Scotland 262 (Machan 83, Coleman 56, Gardiner 54, Anderson 4-47) by one run
Scotland came within a whisker of beating a strong New Zealand XI - only three players away from being a full-strength home side - but after striking a boundary in the last over to leave the visitors needing two off three balls, Alasdair Evans could not score from the next two deliveries and was then run out by Brendon McCullum off the final ball of the match.
There was relief for the New Zealanders, in their first match of the home season, but Scotland will be able to take plenty of solace from their performance against a side they will face in the group stage of the World Cup. They chipped away with the ball and only a final-wicket stand of 55 between Kyle Mills and Matt Henry lifted the New Zealanders to the heights of 263 after being put into bat on an early-season surface which offered encouragement for the seamers.
The chase was marshalled by half-centuries from Hamish Gardiner, Matt Machan and Freddie Coleman. Kyle Coetzer had fallen to the third ball of the innings and when captain Preston Mommsen also failed to open his account, edging Mills to slip, Scotland were 41 for 3 in the eighth over.
However, Gardiner and Machan added 111 for the fourth wicket before Gardiner was run out backing up when Machan's fierce drive burst through the hands of Mills into the non-striker's stumps. Five over later, and with a century in sight, Machan, who had scored at nearly a run-a-ball, sliced a wide delivery to third man off Mitchell McClenaghan leaving Scotland needing 87 off 88 deliveries with five wickets in hand.
Coleman got them close with 56 off 50 balls although he kept losing partners as Corey Anderson went through the lower order. Coleman was Anderson's fourth wicket when he drove to cover with 21 required - a task that the last-wicket pair so nearly achieved.
The New Zealand XI, missing only Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson and Tim Southee from what could be classed as the main one-day team, had made a sticky start. Martin Guptill was caught at third man and Dean Brownlie, earning a chance in the absence of Taylor and Williamson, drove lazily into the covers to leave them 20 for 2 in the 10th over.
McCullum steadied the innings alongside Tom Latham, striking the ball cleanly in a brisk half-century that included three sixes, before the New Zealanders wobbled again as the third-wicket pair were dismissed in consecutive deliveries; McCullum picking out deep midwicket and Latham late on a delivery which took out middle and leg.
Anderson made a robust fifty, adding 53 with the returning Daniel Vettori, but when Nathan McCullum departed there were still nine overs remaining and it needed some sensible batting from Henry and Mills to ensure the overs were used up.
One of the more significant aspects for the New Zealanders was that Vettori, playing his first 50-over match since the Champions Trophy in England last June, got through his 10 overs as he tries to prove his fitness ahead of the one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE and ultimately the World Cup.