Enjoyably slapstick affair

New Zealand's batsmen had enough firepower given Scotland's popgun attack, and reached thetotal of 90 in just six overs, with a full over to spare, writes Andy Bull.

It was a cricketing case of reductio ad absurdium at The Oval, where the opening Group D fixture between Scotland and New Zealand was shortened to a mere even overs a side. It was an enjoyably slapstick affair, never more so than when Gordon Drummond dropped a catch off Jacob Oram and then accidentally kicked the ball some 30 yards over the boundary rope for four.

The curtailed contest was better than nothing given that a near-capacity crowd at The Oval had been waiting in the rain for two-and-ahalf hours before play started. The match was 10 minutes away from being cancelled altogether. The Scots may have been grateful for the chance to take to the field at all. Scotland have been building towards this tournament for 10 months, having qualified last August.

New Zeakand, strongly fancied to do well by many, were only dipping their toes in the water. They found it a lot hotter than they anticipated, as Scotland's batsmen gave them a nasty shock. Ryan Watson clobbered 27 from the first two overs, belting six of the 10 balls he faced for four.

When he fell, Kyle Coetzer was no less vicious, and with Navdeep Poonia anchoring himself in at the other end the Scottish score progressed at an alarming rate. Coetzer was dropped at long-on when he had only scored four, and went on to plunder 33 from 15 balls.

A niggling shoulder injury meant that Daniel Vettori sat out the match. The team did not miss his captaincy so much as his bowling. Without him New Zealand's succession of medium-fast bowlers proved all too hittable for batsmen with licence to swing at every ball.

It took three wickets in the final three balls of the innings, one of them a run out, to check the run-tide. New Zealand's batsmen though, had enough firepower given Scotland's popgun attack, and reached the total of 90 with a full over to spare.

A rambunctious opening stand of 51 from 19 deliveries between Jesse Ryder and McCullum did most of the work, and though they then stuttered, losing three wickets in 11 balls, Ross Taylor closed out the victory easily enough.

THE SCORES

Scotland 89 for four in seven overs (R. Watson 27, N. Poonia 27, K. Coetzer 33, I. Butler three for 19) lost to New Zealand 90 for three in six overs (J. Ryder 31).

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009