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The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran
June 6, 2009
At the half-way stage of a match that rain reduced to a seven-over hitting contest, it looked as though there would be the second big upset of the tournament in two matches. Scotland had started in top gear and stayed there through their innings to set a challenging target, but New Zealand's array of big-hitters knocked off the runs in style with an over to spare.
The hardy fans who endured a frustrating wait for more than two hours were treated to a barrage of clean-hitting from both teams, but what stood out was the high quality of cricketing shots played. While the batsmen were aware of the pressing need for big runs, the match didn't descend into a slogfest.
Ryan Watson gave the crowd plenty to cheer by kicking off the game with a flurry of boundaries in the first over, and though he was dismissed in the third over, Kyle Coetzer and Navdeep Poonia blitzed 59 in 27 balls to keep a weakened New Zealand bowling - Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills were injured - on the backfoot.
Coetzer was particularly harsh on Jesse Ryder, a perfectly placed cut, a powerful loft over long-off, and a punch past extra cover getting him 14 off three balls. Poonia showed off his skills with a wristy clip to fine leg followed by a swat over midwicket in the sixth over. They could have reached 100 had it not been for the three wickets that fell on the final three deliveries off the innings, bowled by Man-of-the-Match Ian Butler.
New Zealand's nerves, in the face of such a big target, were eased by stand-in captain Brendon McCullum, who slammed four off-side boundaries off the first over. Not to be outdone, Ryder gave an exhibition of his range of hitting in the third over, blasting 20 runs off the first four balls to take New Zealand past 50.
The opening onslaught left Scotland in a hole, and their bowlers made it worse by gifting a bunch of no-balls. The fielding was below-par as well, with Gordon Drummond's miss of a simple skier from Jacob Oram in the fifth over epitomising the effort. Watson had tried to get Scotland back with a tight start to that over, but not only did Drummond fluff the chance, the ball rolled over for four vital runs as well. The wicketkeeper Colin Smith dropped a tougher opportunity off Ross Taylor later in the over, and was a bit tardy in attempting a stumping as well.
Scotland could not afford such slip-ups, and New Zealand duly completed the job in the next over, plundering 22, including three sixes off the first four balls.
The shortened match also meant Scotland's run-rate took a huge hit - they are now at -2.2 - which means they will mostly need a big win against a strong South Africa on Sunday if they are to stay in the tournament.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Dolphins and Lahore Lions in Bangalore
The Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Kings XI Punjab and Northern Knights, in Mohali