Scotland cricket suffered a thrilling yet heartbreaking defeat to an experienced New Zealand XI in Lincoln as they lost out by just a single run.
Grant Bradburn’s side took on a virtually full-strength Black Caps team featuring Test figures like Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill and Dean Brownlie in their 50-over clash at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.
But despite facing the sternest test of their seven-match tour of Australia and New Zealand, they only just failed to claim a remarkable win.
The Kiwis batted well to finish on 263 as they were bowled out with the final ball of the innings, with Cory Anderson (53) and McCullum (52) doing most of the damage to the Scots.
But despite losing opener Kyle Coetzer in the first over of their reply, Scotland battled on to move within range of the tally following an impressive 83 by Matt Machan, supplemented by Hamish Gardiner’s 54 and a similarly handy 56 from Freddie Coleman.
The tourists, however, were relying on their final partnership of Alasdair Evans and Majid Haq to see them through the final over as they looked for the seven runs which would claim an impressive victory.
But, with two runs needed off the final ball, Evans was run out by McCullum despite making a desperate dive for the line.
Former New Zealand internationalist Bradburn, though, was full of praise for the performance from Scotland.
He said: “The performance was built upon an outstanding bowling effort which saw our bowling unit put in the best performance of the season. We captured important key wickets throughout the mid innings which always required the opposition to rebuild from. As a bowling unit the team are working hard on consistency of quality deliveries, so it is really heartening to see the boys continuing to improve in this area.
“Our side now know they have the skills and capabilities to compete and put themselves into winning positions against top-quality opposition.
“The performance will give our team massive confidence going into the ICC Cricket World Cup knowing that on our day we have the skills to beat top sides like New Zealand. The opposition required some luck and pieces of brilliance in the field to get over the line.”