World Cup 2015: Moeen Ali stars as England beat Scotland by 119 runs
Moeen Ali scored 128 and took two wickets as England hauled its Cricket World Cup campaign back onto the rails after two demoralizing losses with a 119-run win over Scotland.WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 23, 2015 11:39 IST
Moeen Ali scored 128 and took two wickets as England hauled its Cricket World Cup campaign back onto the rails after two demoralizing losses with a 119-run win over Scotland.
After losing to Australia by 111 runs and to New Zealand by eight wickets, England entered Monday's match against second-tier Scotland shaken, apprehensive and desperate for a win to lessen the threat of an early tournament exit.
It used as its inspiration for the match the story of the host city Christchurch which has been substantially rebuilt since being devastated by an earthquake four years ago.
England adopted the motif of rebuilding, laying a foundation with Ali's 172-run opening partnership with Ian Bell (54), reaching 303-8, and it added structure in bowling out Scotland for 184.
Steve Finn may have made the biggest single form reversal by an England player, taking 3-26 from nine overs after the two overs he bowled against New Zealand cost 49 runs.
But England's performance was far from complete - it should have built far more strongly on an opening stand which was the largest by an England pair in a World Cup match. Its middle order failed and it lost the wickets of Ali, Gary Ballance (10) and Joe Root (1) in the space of 10 balls to slip to from 201-1 to 203-4.
Captain Eion Morgan hinted at the onset of some batting form, scoring 46 from 42 balls to stiffen the latter part of the innings, putting on 49 with James Taylor (17) and 45 with Jos Buttler (24). England still only reached 300 in the final over, in which it lost two wickets, including Morgan's.
Ali and Bell had given England the start it needed to steady its nerves and quieten the challenge of the Scots, who believed that they had a strong chance, against a demoralized opponent, to post their first win over England or any top-eight team. In winning the toss and bowling, Scotland had the chance to increase pressure on an England team that was already under strain: criticized from all sides for the poor standard of its first two performances.
England had had only two clear days to regroup after in savage mauling by New Zealand, which needed only 12.2 overs to surpass England's 123, making the loss the heaviest in its history in terms of balls remaining. The Scottish squad was hoping if it could strike early Monday, the pressure on England would grow and it might buckle.
Ali and Bell alleviated that possiblity and, in doing so, reduced the threat of a defeat which would have been England's fourth in a row in World Cup matches. He also set the solid pace at the top of the order than England needed and as lacked.
Ali scored at exactly twice the rate of Bell - he was 108 when his partner was out for 54 - and he kept the run rate around six an over through the first 30 overs. He reached 50 from 39 balls and his century, his second in one-day internationals, from 91 balls with his fourth six.
Scotland made a bright start to its run chase, propelled by the clean hitting of South African-born opener Kyle Coetzer who made 71 will 11 fours. Its first 27 runs included five boundaries but it lost early wickets - Calum MacLeod for 4, Freddie Coleman for 7 and Matt Machan for 5 - to slip to 54-3 and was forced to consolidate.
Coetzer and captain Preston Mommsen put on 60 for the fourth wicket in 13.4 overs, before Mommsen was out for 26. Coetzer, who could have been the foundation of a dangerous run chase, was out eight runs later, his vital wicket falling to Ali.Scorecard: England vs Scotland