Ponting century sets up 203-run demolition
The Australia fast bowlers might have hogged a bit of the glory, blasting out the Scotland top order for not too many, but the 203-run victory was set up when Ricky Ponting carved out an authoritative hundred. Several others chipped in as Australia posted a virtually unattainable - for Scotland - 334 for 6.
Ponting came out to bat with a solid platform in place, the score reading 91 for 1, and the best of the bowling conditions were already gone. He did not go hammer and tongs early on. If anything, he was extra careful, but the ease with which he was picking off the runs off the full stuff egged the Scotland bowlers to slip in the odd short ball. The speed with which those disappeared to the midwicket fence, off trademark pulls from that meaty Kookaburra bat, matched Ponting's settling in at the crease.
From then there was only one blip, when Ponting played a forcing shot off Dougie Brown and the thick edge failed to stick in the gloves of Colin Smith, standing up to the stumps. After that, though, it was only a brief rain interruption that could halt Ponting's march to his 23rd ODI century. It certainly won't rate among his best, given the lack of quality of the opposition bowling, but the purity of his strokeplay was still a joy to behold for fans of batting.
After the century came a couple of powerful mows across the line - one of which landed far back into the stands, but it was not to last long. On 113, from only 93 balls, Ponting played one heave across the line too many, and the little offbreak that Craig Wright had sent down snuck under the bat and crashed into off stump.
Ponting's knock was helped along by the tone that Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden set. Scotland's opening bowlers kept the ball in the right areas as much as possible. Neither Paul Hoffmann nor John Blain was particularly quick, but they occasionally got the ball to kick off a good length. That extra bounce was just enough to keep Hayden and Gilchrist honest.
Gilchrist was playing well within himself, only attempting the big hits when the ball was there for the shot. An early streaky flash off Hoffmann flew just wide of the man at point, but after that came a crunched square-drive that was all along the turf, an extra-cover drive, a thick top-edge off a miscued pull ... there was plenty of action.
Hayden was different in that he played a lot straighter. He planted his foot down the ground and thumped the ball back over the head of the bowler in emphatic fashion. The six he hit off Hoffmann, shuffling down the track and tonking over long-on with something approaching arrogance, showed the kind of form he was in.
Against the run of play, with the score on 91, Gilchrist attempted to heave Brown and missed. The ball pitched in line, struck the back pad, and would have gone on to peg back the off stump. Gilchrist had made 46. Ponting joined Hayden, and the runs continued to come at an even clip. But, just as Gilchrist had fallen against the run of play, so did Hayden. Majid Haq, the offspinner, tossed one up from round the stumps, Hayden drove, missed and was trapped in front for 60.
When Ponting was dismissed the score was already 274, and Brad Hogg put the icing on the cake, hitting everything in sight to the boundary. He slapped the ball around for three fours and as many sixes, clubbing 40 off only 15 balls. Australia's total was well beyond Scotland.
Shaun Tait began enthusiastically, doing his best to knock over the batsmen with sheer pace, but his direction wasn't the best, and they managed to get him away. The first breakthrough came when Haq (16) attempted a third run off a misfield and was run out. Tait then got one right, spearing in a yorker that knocked over Navdeep Poonia.
Glenn McGrath, who came on to bowl first change, then showed that the zip was still very much around, running in with good rhythm and getting good pace and carry to the keeper. Fraser Watts chopped one on, Ryan Watson could not avoid the surprise bouncer and fended a catch and Gavin Hamilton was suckered into edging a fullish ball to the keeper. That was 42 for 5, and only a 47-run partnership between Brown and Smith brought a semblance of respectability to the batting card.
Smith was aggressive in his outlook, and took on anything that was loose. But it did not last as long as Scotland would have liked. With the score on 89 Brown tried to hit the part-time offspin of Brad Hodge and managed to hole out to long-on. Smith did play an entertaining hand, making the only half-century of the innings, but that was a case of too little too late. With Blain not batting because of an injury, Scotland were rolled over for 131.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo