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New Zealand wins, Afghanistan ready for World Cup debut

New Zealand beats Scotland in Pool A, Afghanistan ready for World Cup debut

New Zealand wins, Afghanistan ready for World Cup debut

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- New Zealand unconvincingly beat second-tier Scotland by three wickets in a low-scoring Pool A match at the World Cup on Tuesday.

Chasing Scotland's modest total of 142, New Zealand needed only half its allotted overs to reach the target but lost wickets at regular intervals in an undisciplined run chase and finished on 146-7 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Afghanistan will be looking go a step better than Scotland when it makes its much-anticipated World Cup debut against Bangladesh in the Australian capital Canberra on Wednesday.

New Zealand's simple chase became a struggle, either through complacency or haste. The tournament co-host had looked comfortable at 63-2 when the late innings break was taken but bled wickets on the resumption.

Kane Williamson made 38 and Grant Elliott 29 for New Zealand, which took an unbeaten side into the match after an opening win against Sri Lanka.

Matt Machan earlier made a pugnacious 56 for Scotland and Richie Berrington 50 in a 97-run partnership that rescued Scotland from a potentially embarrassing total.

Machan, the England-born Sussex batsman, seemed impervious to his team's position when he came to the wicket with two batsmen out and only nine balls bowled, and played his shots.

"Credit to Scotland for the way they hung in there," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said. "Lesser teams would have rolled over there and credit to them for the way they hung in and managed to post a total which was always going to be a bit difficult on that surface.

"Really good performance with the ball and in the field, but we need to improve on our batting."

Afghanistan may be the World Cup newcomer, but is regarded as a strong chance to beat Pool A rival Bangladesh on Wednesday after winning the only one-day match between the two counties at last year's Asia Cup.

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi, who whiled away his hours playing cricket in the refugee camps of central Asia, will carry the expectation of a war-torn homeland on his shoulders when his team makes its tournament debut.

"The pressure is not on Afghanistan," Nabi said. "We've already beaten (Bangladesh) in the Asia Cup. We respect Bangladesh because they are a test playing team, but hopefully we'll do our best against them."

Former Warwickshire opener Andy Moles, now Afghanistan coach, said the national team is something a fractured nation can share.

"It's a unifying sport, it's a well-received sport among the population in Afghanistan and the players know that through good performances it will be a massive uplift in just the general wellbeing of the country," Moles said.

Australia will soon find out whether its captain Michael Clarke will join the World Cup squad.

Paceman Mitchell Johnson had little doubt Clarke will return to the team for the match against Bangladesh on Saturday at Brisbane's Gabba ground.

Clarke was set a deadline of this match to prove his fitness after hamstring surgery or be ruled out of the tournament.

Johnson insisted he did not know what the weekend plan was for Clarke, but said his captain is "ready to go" and "doing what he needs to do."

Should Clarke make his expected return, it will likely be at the expense of stand-in skipper George Bailey, who made a half century while leading Australia to an emphatic 111-run win over England in their tournament opener last Saturday.


Updated : 2021-09-19 05:16 GMT+08:00