The preparations for the T20 World Cup continue for Scotland and New Zealand on Friday when the two sides meet in the second of the two T20 internationals scheduled against one another in Edinburgh.
The opening game was quite an entertaining affair which New Zealand came out on top in but Scotland certainly showed enough to suggest they could have a competitive World Cup. They’ll be looking for a bit more from this one.
When you consider that the game on Wednesday was the first T20 international Scotland had played since they were in the UAE for the last World Cup, there was enough to encourage them moving forward. Nobody really knew how they would play because so much had changed since then, not least them getting a new captain and a couple of players who were fairly inexperienced at this level. It wasn’t a surprise that they were beaten by a better side but they didn’t look too bad.
The areas where Scotland looked ordinary in were the ones you often see teams of their level and ability look out of place, notably when mystery spin comes into the game against them and when they have the ball in hand at the end of an innings. To be fair to the Scottish bowlers, the likes of Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham have been hitting the world’s best to all parts in big competitions so it is no disgrace that they went the distance in the opening game.
I would imagine New Zealand will be extremely satisfied with their performance in the opening match. There was a criticism that they weren’t completely ruthless over in Ireland but that accusation certainly can’t be levelled at them in that opening match. They piled on the runs and never took their foot off the gas at any stage and then with the ball in hand despite Scotland getting off to a bit of a flier, they didn’t panic and eased to victory in the end.
There isn’t a great deal where New Zealand can improve on that first performance. I guess if they wanted to test themselves they could find a way to chase a total but even then you wouldn’t think it would be much of a chase with the quality they have on display with the ball. The only other thing for New Zealand to do in this match is give game time to those who haven’t had as much of it on the tour so far.
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Scotland were without Michael Jones for the opening match but he has finished his County Championship match for Durham so is likely to be available for this one. Ollie Hairs could be the one to miss out for the home side.
Mark Chapman and Michael Rippon have both been left waiting for their opportunity to shine in this part of the world and that chance might come here. Michael Bracewell has played a lot of cricket recently and could sit this one out.
I hinted ahead of the opening match of the series that the one test for Scotland would be when New Zealand brought the mystery spin into the attack and it isn’t a surprise to me that Ish Sodhi took three wickets in game one. He is a pretty good bowler in his own right and has a good record in events like the Vitality Blast so the Scottish batters who don’t face that sort of spin very often were always going to struggle against it.
They might be slightly better here having faced him in the last game but the problem they’ll have now is with the square being exposed during the game on Wednesday, we are either going to be on a used wicket here or a pitch which was being run over in the opening game. Whichever one it is that is likely to assist the spin bowlers, not that Sodhi needs any against this level of team. You can get even money that he takes more than 1.5 wickets here. He covered this line in the last two matches in Ireland, the opening match of this series and against Scotland at the World Cup and should be backed to cover it again here.
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