Australia smash Scotland

Australia thrashed associate side Scotland in today’s first Group A game in St Kitts by 203 runs. It is only the third winning margin of over 200 in World Cup history.

With a slight drizzle on the horizon, Scotland won the toss and elected to bowl. The captain reasoning to the media that the conditions would likely favour the bowlers. It was a decision that didn’t pay off as Australia got off to a solid start. It wasn’t lighting fast, but Gilchrist and Hayden put on a measured and calm partnership.

Both batsmen coming back into the side after an extended break, Hayden recovering from a broken toe and Gilchrist who missed the Chappell-Hadlee series to stay at home with his pregnant wife and they showed no signs of ever being away. The pair amassed a 91 run opening partnership which wasn’t broken until the end of the 16th over when Gilchrist was judged LBW whilst attempting to sweep Dougie Brown.

The respite was short lived however. The next man in was captain Ricky Ponting. With his side under pressure in the media, with the scrutiny almost unbearable; Ponting had a point to prove.

And prove it he did. With brilliant footwork and sublime touch, the skipper sent the Scottish attack to all parts of the ground. He did it with the appearance of minimal effort and once he had scored his fourth World Cup century there was barely a smile to be seen.

Along the way Clarke and Hodge played small cameos and Hussey was dismissed after a debatable stumping decision for just four runs. But the real surprise of the innings came from Brad Hogg. The left arm chinaman had made a name for himself in years gone by as a very handy lower order bat but in recent times his form had been on the wane.

Not today however. Coming in during the 46th over, Hogg went ballistic. Three fours and three sixes to all parts of the ground saw him score an amazing 40 runs from just 15 balls, taking the Australian score to 334 in the process.

Despite the total, credit must be given to the Scottish bowlers. They bowled tight and accurate for most of the day. They bowled with heart and stuck to their plans. On more than one occasion they had the Australian batsmen in trouble. But at the end of the day, Australia are the defending champions and Scotland a mere minnow.

The chase was always going to be a close to impossible task for Scotland. After a good start, negotiating Bracken and Tait in the first five overs for 15 runs, an ill-timed decision to sneak in runs from overthrows cost Scotland their first wicket as a result of the fielding of Glenn McGrath. Majid Haq the first man out for 16.

Tait struck again soon after, through sheer pace he had the new man in Navdeep Poonia sent back to the newly refurbished pavilion for just a single run.

The wickets continued to fall as McGrath was brought into the attack. With just he third delivery, he had opener Fraser Watts playing the ball into his stumps and departing for nine.

Scotland tried to reconstruct their innings at this stage but it was no avail, at 3-32 chasing 320 the result was little more than a forgone conclusion and the rest of the game, a mere formality. McGrath struck again soon after, playing a perfect bouncer forcing Ryan Watson to hit the ball straight to Bracken at short fine leg.

The veteran was not about to stop there and he had Hamilton out shortly afterwards, bowling at his off stump and extracting a nick from the batsman, out for three and Scotland in serious trouble.

With the score unattainable at this stage, Scotland, with nothing left to play for but dignity, opened up and started attacking the bowlers. A Dougie Brown cover-drive stylishly put a Shane Watson delivery away for four as Smith used Tait’s pace and inaccuracy against him at the other end to produce two boundaries from three deliveries.

It wasn’t until Ricky Ponting was forced to throw the ball to part-timer Brad Hodge that there was a breakthrough. The move was immediately successful, in just his first over Hodge had his first ODI wicket. Brown targeting the slower bowler attempted to clear the boundary but was only able to find Watson at long on, out for a fighting 19.

The lower order went without much of a struggle, Tait, Bracken and Hogg picking up the final three wickets as Scotland capitulated for just 131 runs.

Australia will take cautious positives out of the win, their first in five official matches, with the batting and bowling coming into place ahead of their blockbuster clash against South Africa next week. They first take on Holland however, on the Sunday at the same venue. For Scotland, the will be no reprieve, meeting the number one ranked side, South Africa, on Tuesday.

Australia 334/6
Ricky Ponting 113, Matthew Hayden 60
Majid Haq 2-49, Paul Hoffmann 1-57

Scotland 131
Colin Smith 51
Glenn McGrath 3-14, Shaun Tait 2-45

Australia won by 203 runs

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