New Zealand 307 for 3 (Chapman 101*, Mitchell 74*, Allen 50 Leask 2-46) beat Scotland 306 (Leask 85, Cross 53, Bracewell 3-43, Duffy 3-52) by 7 wickets
“I managed to score a few a couple of days ago, and I was happy to contribute again today,” he said after the match. “When Daryl (Mitchell) and I came together we had a lot of work to do. We talked about taking it deep, putting a partnership together and having wickets in hand come the end.
“Daryl was encouraging me to go for it, and I just put my head down and tried to make contact. I’m stoked. Thankfully it came off today.”
The win did not come without wobbly moments, though. Scotland will take much from the game, if not victory. Dreich is a popular Scottish adjective meaning grey and dreary. It was apt for the early morning weather. And when Scotland slipped to 107 for 5 having elected to bat first in this one-off match, it looked apt for their day.
“I can’t fault the effort; the guys ran in and did the best we could. Our skill levels need to keep improving. It’s still building blocks but to see the resilience and the character shine out speaks 1,000 words.”
Then came the counter punch. Finally, some home batting that mirrored the aggression of the in-house DJ’s excessive use of musical interludes. Matthew Cross reached 50 first with an emphatic pull off Lockie Ferguson that fizzed onto a neighbouring road.
But Leask’s knock was the standout. Pure aggression. Bracewell was bludgeoned straight, before Ferguson – from around the wicket – dropped short and was swatted away. A later flat bat down the ground had Duffy sprinting. ‘You’ll nay catch that big lad’ came the cry from the hospitality tents. It was spot on. Leask then lifted Duffy over deep square and long on before falling 15 short of a century. Later, Mark Watt and Safyaan Sharif cameos took Scotland to 306.
The hosts needed early luck but did not get it. Chris Sole was almost celebrating an immediate wicket, with Finn Allen edging just out of Cross’ reach. Shariff then thudded into Guptill’s pads, the ball struck the stumps, but the bails remained intact.
Allen fell for exactly 50, Guptill 47 and then Cleaver soon after. But Chapman and Mitchell steadied before accelerating. Chapman boshed Tahir for a pair of maximums, Mitchell took ten off a Sharif over, and between them, they found 14 off Watt. Suddenly a run-a-ball was required. In the end, 25 balls were left spare.
Quite what long-term value these games have for Scotland, when played in such isolation, is difficult to measure. This was their first ODI against a full-member nation since Sri Lanka visited in 2019. There is nothing currently in the fixture list. With the schedule packed, quite where additional games come from is difficult to see. In which case, it is ‘survive’ rather than ‘thrive.’