Chapman 101*, Mitchell 74* help New Zealand ace 307-run chase

Leask, Cross fifties go in vain as visitors race home with 25 balls to spare

New Zealand 307 for 3 (Chapman 101*, Mitchell 74*, Allen 50 Leask 2-46) beat Scotland 306 (Leask 85, Cross 53, Bracewell 3-43, Duffy 3-52) by 7 wickets

The last time Mark Chapman scored an ODI century was 2449 days ago. It came on his Hong Kong debut, having just completed both his exams and a 20-hour flight.

A second came in the late-Sunday Edinburgh sunshine. Chapman’s century was his first in New Zealand colours, adding to the 83 he made in Friday’s T20I. It was an attractive, brutal knock, and as he reached the landmark off his 74th ball to point for a single, off came the helmet, and the bat swooshed through the air. Two balls later, a seven-wicket victory was sealed in the one-off ODI against Scotland.

“I managed to score a few a couple of days ago, and I was happy to contribute again today,” he said after the match. “When Daryl (Mitchell) and I came together we had a lot of work to do. We talked about taking it deep, putting a partnership together and having wickets in hand come the end.

“Daryl was encouraging me to go for it, and I just put my head down and tried to make contact. I’m stoked. Thankfully it came off today.”

The problem, for the opposition at least, is that New Zealand are just so difficult to beat. Even when you think you’ve got them, they fight back. Chapman’s unbroken fourth-wicket partnership with Daryl Mitchell was worth 175 runs. The pair negotiated a potentially sticky situation with ease.

Chapman took a particular shine to Hamza Tahir, who was peppered straight. Three sixes in an over towards the conclusion eased him through the 70s. He was dropped by Michael Leask in the middle of those, mind.

Mitchell’s knock, on the other hand, contained a share of luck. Luck that largely evaded the Scots. But he is having a golden European tour, and there were touches of quality aplenty. It meant a tenth consecutive ODI victory for the Black Caps. And this, remember, is a line-up without Devon Conway, Kane Williamson and Tom Latham.

The win did not come without wobbly moments, though. Scotland will take much from the game, if not victory. Dreich is a popular Scottish adjective meaning grey and dreary. It was apt for the early morning weather. And when Scotland slipped to 107 for 5 having elected to bat first in this one-off match, it looked apt for their day.

But then out came Leask. By mid-afternoon, the sun shone, Leask had walloped a rapid 85 – his highest score in this format – and his quickfire dismissals of Martin Guptill and Dane Cleaver had New Zealand up against it. For a while at least, it seemed game on.

Michael Leask scored a rapid 85 off just 55 ballsSNS Group/Getty Images

“It’s a week of missed opportunities,” Scotland head coach Shane Burger said. “We lost the big moments in the game, but ultimately, they go your way if you play more cricket. That one big partnership was the difference in the game.

“I can’t fault the effort; the guys ran in and did the best we could. Our skill levels need to keep improving. It’s still building blocks but to see the resilience and the character shine out speaks 1,000 words.”

Scotland had made a sprightly start with Kyle Coetzer racing to 20 from just 12 balls. But a miscued pull off Jacob Duffy brought about his downfall. Then came the New Zealand pressure. Michael Bracewell reeled off ten uninterrupted overs. Six overs between him and Blair Tickner cost just 11 runs, with Michael Jones falling to Bracewell, and Calum MacLeod to the latter. Bracewell then removed both Richie Berrington and Chris Greaves to leave Scotland reeling.

Then came the counter punch. Finally, some home batting that mirrored the aggression of the in-house DJ’s excessive use of musical interludes. Matthew Cross reached 50 first with an emphatic pull off Lockie Ferguson that fizzed onto a neighbouring road.

But Leask’s knock was the standout. Pure aggression. Bracewell was bludgeoned straight, before Ferguson – from around the wicket – dropped short and was swatted away. A later flat bat down the ground had Duffy sprinting. ‘You’ll nay catch that big lad’ came the cry from the hospitality tents. It was spot on. Leask then lifted Duffy over deep square and long on before falling 15 short of a century. Later, Mark Watt and Safyaan Sharif cameos took Scotland to 306.

The hosts needed early luck but did not get it. Chris Sole was almost celebrating an immediate wicket, with Finn Allen edging just out of Cross’ reach. Shariff then thudded into Guptill’s pads, the ball struck the stumps, but the bails remained intact.

Allen fell for exactly 50, Guptill 47 and then Cleaver soon after. But Chapman and Mitchell steadied before accelerating. Chapman boshed Tahir for a pair of maximums, Mitchell took ten off a Sharif over, and between them, they found 14 off Watt. Suddenly a run-a-ball was required. In the end, 25 balls were left spare.

Quite what long-term value these games have for Scotland, when played in such isolation, is difficult to measure. This was their first ODI against a full-member nation since Sri Lanka visited in 2019. There is nothing currently in the fixture list. With the schedule packed, quite where additional games come from is difficult to see. In which case, it is ‘survive’ rather than ‘thrive.’