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The Electronic Telegraph New Zealand v Scotland, Group B
Michael Henderson - 31 May 1999

New Zealand stick to the plot and reach Super Sixes

New Zealand (123-4) bt Scotland (121) by 6 wkts

New Zealand did a good deal more than beat Scotland yesterday; they upheld the honour of the World Cup. The contrivance of Australia's victory against the West Indies at Old Trafford on Sunday, when they played ducks and drakes with the competition rules, counted for naught as New Zealand comfortably reached their target.

To qualify for the second round of the tournament, New Zealand had to pass Scotland's score of 121 inside 20.5 overs, to establish a superior net run rate to the West Indies. Despite the loss of two early wickets, Roger Twose pushed them onwards with a belligerent half-century, and Chris Cairns carried them over the threshold when he picked up the fifth ball of the 18th over, from Gavin Hamilton, the Yorkshire all-rounder, into the trees at square leg.

A kind of justice was therefore seen to be done. There was something rather shifty about the way Steve Waugh, a great cricketer, and Brian Lara, a great batsman, shuffled in their seats on Sunday, trying to account for the nonsense in Manchester. In years to come the captains will not be proud of their performance, though it stopped some way short of collusion.

The subtext of that contest, Australia's clear preference for the West Indies to accompany them into the Super Sixes, ahead of New Zealand, because Australia would then carry forward the two points gained from that victory, offended the spirit of the game. Matches are there to be won, not stretched out unnaturally for a purpose that suits the participants.

It was no surprise to hear Stephen Fleming, the captain of New Zealand, say that he would have acted in a similar manner had the circumstances been reversed. So long as loopholes exist, captains will always look for ways to exploit them. But Fleming had the grace to admit that it was ``a rule that needs to be tidied up''.

The finest contribution he made to his team's cause yesterday was to win the toss. ``It has been a messy couple of days,'' he said later. ``It was pretty tough mentally, first to work out what we needed, and then doing it. I was desperate to win the toss.''

Had he lost it, and had New Zealand been inserted, they might have found themselves struggling to make enough runs to establish a sufficiently large winning margin. Even when they put the Scots in they had to bowl them out swiftly.

They were aided by some undistinguished batting. Mike Smith drove a catch to mid-on in Dion Nash's second over and Geoff Allott, the left-arm swing bowler, maintained his fine form in this competition when he moved the ball into George Salmond and away from Mike Allingham. Scotland were on the ropes at 12 for three, in no position to set a challenging total.

Allott, the man of the match, returned to add James Brinkley to his collection but it was the wily Chris Harris who finished with one wicket more.

When they began their reply, New Zealand immediately lost Matthew Hart, bowled round his legs by John Blain, who found the edge of Nathan Astle's bat in his next over. Scotland would have taken a third wicket before lunch if Allingham had grabbed an awkward skier Twose top-edged to midwicket.

It was an expensive miss. Twose, three at the time, survived two more chances, on 22 and 38, as he looked to clear the infield. Nick Dyer was unfortunate to find himself under the second chance, another skier to fine leg. Brinkley, fielding at short extra cover, should have pouched a drive that struck him on the knee.

Twose, formerly of Torquay and Warwickshire, made sure that one Englishman is involved in the second round. It was his unbeaten 80 that helped his adopted country beat Australia, and he expedited their progress here with a series of crunching drives. New Zealand will now play the other dark horses, Zimbabwe, at Headingley on Sunday in the first of their Super Sixes matches. Two weeks ago you could have got a fair price on that.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk