Scotland v New Zealand A, Tour match, Ayr August 15, 2014

Scotland crushed by Elliott, Watling tons

The Report by James Gray

New Zealand A 347 for 6 (Watling 119*, Elliott 109) beat Scotland 148 (Berrington 42, Henry 4-26, Kuggeleijn 3-47) by 199 runs
Scorecard

Hundreds from Grant Elliott and BJ Watling powered New Zealand A to a comprehensive victory in Ayr, as Scotland, without a number of their top-order batsmen, succumbed in the first of three matches.

Scotland had started well with the ball but lost the plot at the back end of the innings, conceding nearly 150 runs in the last ten overs as Watling and Elliott piled on the misery. In reply the home side never threatened, with only Richie Berrington and David Murphy displaying any fluency with the bat.

Without eight regulars due to injury and county commitments, including captain Kyle Coetzer, Scotland were forced to field a weakened side, handing a debut to 21-year-old Gordon Munsey; by contrast, the New Zealand A side featured six players with Test match experience.

Having won his first toss as Scotland captain, Matt Machan would have been delighted with the way his bowlers started, removing both openers inside the first ten, including in-form Hamish Rutherford

After the seamers' hard work, it was the introduction of spin from the Cottage End that broke the third-wicket partnership, when Dean Brownlie chopped the third ball of Majid Haq's first over on to his leg stump; seam struck an over later when Evans trapped Daryl Mitchell lbw to leave New Zealand A 92 for 4.

However, as the sun and stiff breeze dried the pitch, batting got easier and easier. Both Machan and Michael Leask were deposited over the boundary by Colin de Grandhomme, and had he not missed a straight one off Haq the No. 6 might have caused some real damage. But for Scotland, the worst was yet to come.

Once Elliott reached an obdurate fifty, he accelerated alongside Watling, who batted with total ease. Their partnership was eventually worth 185 from 19 overs. Elliott scored his second half-century off 26 balls, while Watling's second came off just 13, as they battered Safyaan Sharif's final three overs for 57 runs. Still 20 short of his hundred, Watling mistimed the ball over mid-off but Machan, running back, never quite settled under it; the drop seemed inevitable, as did defeat even at that point.

If Scotland's bowling was ultimately sub-par, their batting was dire. From the moment Hamish Gardiner became the first of Matt Henry's four victims, Scotland never looked like threatening the target of 348. There were bright patches for Grant Bradburn, Scotland's coach, to focus on: Munsey looked at ease with the pace and bite of the attack until he played a loose drive and Berrington once again showed form with the bat, although by the time he got into his groove the game was well done. In truth, it had the feel of a square practice for both sides after Henry and Scott Kuggeleijn blew away the top order.

"The first 35 overs, we bowled well, we fielded well, and then we let it get away from us," Bradburn said. "We've got a lot of high-level cricket between now and the World Cup, and we have to try and improve those skills, and try and be comfortable chasing. At the moment, we're more comfortable setting than chasing, and we have to be able to do both. We have the skills to go out and chase big scores, but what we need is the belief."

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