This article is from Cricbuzz.
By Jamie Alter
In direct parallel to the 87th Academy Awards on Monday, held some 11,000 kilometres upwards of the Pacific Ocean, was a rather lifeless one-day international at Hagley Park. In the glitzy surroundings of Hollywood, the Oscars threw up some surprises to leave film critics and moviegoers somewhat puzzled. In Christchurch, England's defeat went pretty much to script. England won, made 300 and won by 119 runs. And yet there was something hollow about this win over Scotland.
England had lost their last three World Cup games, dating back to the 2011 quarter-final against Sri Lanka, and needed a win to resuscitate their campaign. They were put on the way to victory by their highest opening stand in over two years, and eventually the best in nearly a decade, but they had to work hard to beat Scotland, who dominated in small phases.
Ian Bell's 54 needed 85 balls and featured plays and misses, inside edges and a very close lbw shout. Gary Ballance and Joe Root looked out of sorts. From 172 for 1 in 30.1 overs, the next 19.5 overs produced 131 runs for seven wickets. It proved enough to beat Scotland, whose batsmen, barring the former captain Kyle Coetzer, failed to dominate. After early wickets to three of the four pace bowlers, England were at a loss to curb the stylish Kyle Coetzer and, briefly, Preston Mommsen.
Eoin Morgan appeared relieved to have got a win on the points table and yet knew England were not entirely convincing. "I think [we need] just a little bit more consistency in what we do," he said. "Again, we hit our lengths reasonably well today, but if we're totally harsh on ourselves, we weren't it was a good wicket to bat on, and probably the newer ball was easy to bat against when Scotland batted. We're probably below par in that sense. Just being ruthless and simple, very simple in the way we approach things."
Whenever he has addressed questions from the media, Mommsen, Scotland's captain, has been forthright in his assessment of his team's pros and cons. After the defeat, he said he was "very disappointed" with the result but admitted to seeing England rattled after that massive opening stand was broken. Ballance and Root fell in consecutive overs during the batting Powerplay, and that prompted Mommsen to see what critics have been talking of in regards to England. The vulnerability factor.
"I think it showed once we got rid of Ian Bell there and Moeen Ali that they were pretty vulnerable in the middle there. We knew we could keep taking wickets and we did keep taking wickets which allowed us to restrict them to 300, and hence we took a lot of momentum going into that halftime break. From the platform they had of 170odd for none, to restrict them to only 300, we took a lot of confidence from that," he said.
And Mommsen was certain that while the margin of defeat of was big, the gap between England and Scotland was not. "No, I wouldn't think it is that big, and as I said, I'm very disappointed. I think we're a better side than what we showed there today," he said. "There were some things we didn't do very well. There were some things we actually did very well. We couldn't quite put in the full package, and that's very disappointing, and that's quite regrettable. But it just wasn't meant to be today."
It wasn't meant to be for Scotland, but it will not go unnoticed that they pushed England. Morgan's team next face Sri Lanka in Wellington on March 1, then Bangladesh on March 9 and Afghanistan four days later. Three matches from which to produce wins to reach the quarter-finals. Sri Lanka are a team that bossed England in 2014, and are also wounded and looking to get back into top gear. Bangladesh too will fancy their chances against England.
Morgan can take positives from this win, such as Ali's century and Finn's bowling, but there are creases still to be smoothed. Other teams will not be as lenient.