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New Zealand kept their semi-final ambitions on track with a win against Scotland in their Group 2 Super 12 fixture. Scotland showed fight with both bat and ball, but a Martin Guptill special in the Dubai afternoon heat put victory beyond their reach.
Guptill struck seven sixes in a power-packed 93 off 56 balls to lift New Zealand to 172/5. And while Scotland reached 156/5, they couldn’t deny the Black Caps a 16-run win. A double-wicket over for Safyaan Sharif in the New Zealand Powerplay, figures of 1/13 for Mark Watt, tight death bowling and an over when Matt Cross hit Adam Milne for five fours in a row were some highlights for Scotland. However, these moments of brilliance weren’t enough as New Zealand picked up their second win in three matches of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
Asked to bat, New Zealand began strongly, tallying 13 runs in the first over from Brad Wheal, and that set the tone for the match.
Guptill plucked off boundaries with ease on the off-side. Alasdair Evans, one of two changes for Scotland, was taken for back-to-back fours from widish deliveries.
Needing 24 in this match to get to 3000 runs in T20 internationals, Guptill reached the milestone in some style, targetting the shorter leg-side boundary for the first six of the day.
The bulk of New Zealand’s Powerplay score of 52/2 was down to him. The two wickets were thanks to Sharif, who was the only bowler to keep the batters quiet in the Powerplay with his back-of-a-length deliveries.
He got the breakthrough when he had Glenn Mitchell lbw, with the decision upheld on review.
In the same over, Williamson, who had been denied the singles behind square to third that he so likes, feathering one going down leg to the wicket-keeper to be out without scoring.
After his first two overs, Sharif had incredible figures of 2/2. Watt struck in the first ball of spin, having Devon Conway caught behind tried to reverse sweep the left-arm spinner. It marked the start of a period of four overs of spin that went for just 18 runs.
However, the next five overs resulted in 50 runs. Guptill and Glenn Phillips stepped on the accelerator, both of them releasing the pressure with sixes on the leg side.
Guptill’s fifty came off just 35 balls, with another massive slog sent into the stands. That was his 150th six in T20Is. He survived a couple of dropped catches, with the fielder in the deep struggling to keep sight of the ball in the sun, and piled on the runs. Most of his big hits soared over midwicket or the square-leg boundary. Even Sharif was dispatched for two sixes on his return.
He was finally caught at long-on in the penultimate over from an exhausted shot. Scotland did well at the death to concede just 22 runs in the last three overs. The chase was still a steep one, though, and Scotland couldn’t build on their starts.
Skipper Kyle Coetzer began with a flurry of boundaries and was timing the ball well when he became the first wicket to fall early. Trent Boult came back well from being hit for four, to have Coetzer sky a slower one.
Facing a quality bowling attack, the Scotland batters chose their battles well. Milne began with a maiden over, but the pace bowler was greeted with five back-to-back fours around the ground by Cross when he returned for his second.
At 48/1 in the Powerplay, Scotland wouldn’t have been too disappointed. George Munsey, always strong against the spinners, brought out his sweep to smash Ish Sodhi for a couple of sixes. Hungry for a third in the same over, he didn’t get all of it on a full toss and Tim Southee, running to his right in the long-on region, took an excellent catch, his second of the day.
Southee then got among the wickets himself, bowling Cross with some movement. With Boult and Sodhi chipping away, half the opposition batters were back in the hut for 106 and New Zealand were on top.
With 67 needed from the final 26 balls, Michael Leask swung hard for 42* off just 20 balls, but he had been left with too much to do.