14 March 2015
Australia gets the two points they wanted
Scotland batsmen come out swinging, but are outclassed in one-sided contest in Hobart
Australia's win against Scotland means New Zealand has topped Pool A, followed by Australia (second), Sri Lanka (third) and Bangladesh (fourth).
The only way, as it turned out, Australia might have not pocketed full points at the Bellerive Oval on a murky Saturday (March 14) was if the weather had intervened. Though it was ominously cloudy for the duration of the game and there were two interruptions, the rains relented long enough for Michael Clarke’s men to race to a seven-wicket victory in a contest that lasted only 41 overs in all.
The result means Australia avoids South Africa in the third quarter-final in Adelaide on March 20. It would instead take on the third-placed team in Pool B, which could be either of Pakistan, Ireland or West Indies, depending on the results on the final day of league play on Sunday.
Through Preston Mommsen, Scotland had promised to put up a show befitting the stage. Mommsen had said it was a huge honour for his team to play Australia in its own backyard, but his side batted as if it was overawed by the occasion and caved in without a fight.
In a batting display of four or out, Scotland was blasted out for just 130 in 25.4 overs despite Australia not going all out. In all, there were 20 fours; there were five ducks, too, as the Scots rattled to a tournament-high 12 ducks.
Australia took the opportunity to rejig its batting order so that Clarke and Shane Watson, among others, would get some batting practice in a match situation. Clarke opened the batting with Aaron Finch, who made a ten-ball 20 before throwing his hand away, while Watson came in at No. 3 as Australia tried ticking all the boxes leading into the knockouts.
Clarke and Watson struck a fine balance between batting time and scoring quickly with one eye on the weather during a second-wicket stand of 58. The skipper looked characteristically fluent while driving even as Watson muscled the ball against Scotland’s hapless bowlers.
The pair was dismissed within three balls of each other, Clarke brilliantly caught at deep backward square by Michael Leask, after which there was a prolonged rain interruption that triggered nerves and tension in the Australian camp. When the players came back out after 92 minutes of fretting and fuming with the score 92 for 3, David Warner smashed the first ball from Iain Wardlaw for six and James Faulkner started off in fifth gear, Australia needing just 12 deliveries to knock off the remaining runs on its way to 133 for 3 in 15.2 overs.
A fair-sized crowd had turned up to watch their heroes, even though two of three hometown boys – George Bailey and Xavier Doherty – warmed the bench. It was to be Hobart’s only look at the Australians in this World Cup; unfortunately for them, Scotland wasn’t up for the battle.
Perhaps, the Scotland batsmen didn’t want to go into their shells against Mitchell Starc, who returned to the top of the wicket-taking table with his 4 for 14, Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins, but they took their adventurism too far against an attack that needed just that little prod to get all fired up. Calum MacLeod lit the spark as he lay into Cummins with four fours in the pacer’s first two overs, all of them through or over point and enough for Starc and Johnson to see red.
Starc duly drew first blood in his second over, consigning Kyle Coetzer to his second consecutive duck. That brought Matt Machan out to join MacLeod, and then followed a very brief but very entertaining passage as both MacLeod and Machan played handsome strokes, mainly square on either side. Australia knew it was always a one-ball game, and Starc provided that ball, even if it was hardly a wicket-taking one – short and outside off. In trying to keep the cut down, all MacLeod managed was to put up a straightforward catch to point.
Mommsen fell three deliveries later, caught on the pull as Watson got amongst the wickets. The top-edged pull from outside off looped towards square-leg, giving Starc enough time to circle around from short fine to gobble it up comfortably.
Mommsen and Freddie Coleman had showcased the best of Scottish batsmanship in the previous game against Sri Lanka when they both made attractive half-centuries. This time, Coleman became the third man to be dismissed for duck, pushing tentatively at Johnson off the back foot and putting Clarke in business at second slip. Six deliveries later, Richie Berrington picked out Warner at cover off Glenn Maxwell’s first ball, and Scotland had lost half its side with just 51 on the board.
Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre, watch all the video clips from the game, review the scorecard and all of the match coverage.
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