New Zealand v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20, Group D, The Oval

A more than satisfactory result

Alex Brown

June 6, 2009

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Navdeep Poonia hits out during his 27, New Zealand v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20, The Oval, June 6, 2009
Scotland gave New Zealand quite a scare © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Brendon McCullum
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20

On the surface, a rain-reduced Seven7 match would appear as meaningful as Britney Spears' lyrics, but New Zealand may come to view their seven-wicket victory over Scotland as something far more significant in the weeks to come.

With Daniel Vettori ruled out through injury and Jesse Ryder contending with the sudden death of his cousin this week, Brendon McCullum's men would have been forgiven for arriving at The Oval in a less than buoyant mood on Saturday. And when a persistent south London drizzle reduced the match to a seven-over-a-side affair, thus reducing New Zealand's avenues to capitalise on the their sizeable skill advantage, a second tournament upset in 18 hours seemed eminently possible.

Ryan Watson (27 from 10 balls) did little to dissuade from that notion by slamming 16 of the 18 runs to come from Iain O'Brien's first over. Navdeep Poonia (27 off 15) and Kyle Coertzer (33 off 15) then proceded to fray New Zealand nerves further with a 50-run stand for the second wicket from just 22 deliveries that propelled Scotland to an imposing 89 for 4 from their allotment of overs.

A required run-rate of 12.72 for the outset would make most teams blanch, even in a seven-over contest, but New Zealand's limited overs side have proven themselves a redoubtable bunch over the years. McCullum commenced the pyrotechnics with a break-neck innings of 18 from seven deliveries before losing his wicket to Twenty20 cricket's most cardinal sin - run out off a free-hit - and Ryder (31 off 12) and Ross Taylor (21 off 10) completed the onslaught to guide New Zealand home with a full over to spare.

New Zealand undoubtedly benefited from the absence of three of Scotland's frontline seamers, and a fielding performance that bordered on the lamentable. But given the bear-trap that this match represented - Ian Butler admitted he was "as nervous as I've ever been in a cricket match at half time" - McCullum's team will be more than satisfied with the result.

"After watching last night's [England-Netherlands] game we were pretty apprehensive about what was possible from a smaller side," McCullum said. "The way they came out and batted was incredibly brave and incredibly free in terms of their mind. They put us under a huge amount of pressure. At half-time, the boys were pretty nervous. But we managed to show the skills we have with the bat."

Gavin Hamilton, meanwhile, was glowing in his assessment of Scotland's batting, though somewhat less chipper when discussing his side's performance in the field. A series of missed opportunities - none worse than Gordon Drummond's drop of Jacob Oram, which he proceeded to boot to the boundary - thwarted what might have been Scotland's best chance to snare a major scalp at the World Twenty20, and Hamilton was hardly impressed.

"We gave ourselves more than a good chance ... [and] half way through we were hot favourites to win it," he said. "We've prided ourselves on the way we've fielded recently and this was not good enough. We've got to take catches, we've got to stop boundaries we can't beat an international team getting out of the way of balls coming too fast at us. That's absolutely ridiculous."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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