Cricket World Cup 2015: Moeen Ali-inspired England beat Scotland

Moeen Ali’s century led England to a 119-run victory over Scotland and a first victory of the World Cup. Moeen scored 128 and shared 172 for the first wicket with the stuttering Ian Bell, who contributed 54. But, when they were parted, England could only manage 131 runs in the final 20 overs as they posted 303-8.Still, it was too many for Scotland, who never threatened an upset, despite Kyle Coetzer’s 71, and were bowled out for 184, with Steven Finn taking 3-26.Following heavy defeats against co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, the success in Christchurch provides England with a much-needed morale boost.However, little can be learned as to whether they are in better shape for the sterner tests to come – starting with Sri Lanka in Wellington on Sunday – given the nature of the opposition.Scotland are the lowest-ranked one-day international side in Pool A and England should be dissatisfied with the way their innings fell away after Moeen departed. Against an attack barely of county quality – albeit one that improved as the innings progressed – England failed to fully build on a platform of 172-0 after 30 overs, scoring at just over a run a ball from then on and losing eight wickets in the process.At one point around the beginning of the batting powerplay, they lost three wickets for two runs in three overs, Moeen being caught on the leg-side boundary from the off-spin of Majid Haq, Gary Ballance continuing his poor run by chopping on to his own stumps and Joe Root edging behind.Before that, Moeen, who gave a half-chance to cover when on seven, scored freely, particularly through fierce pull shots and lofts down the ground.His 107-ball knock included five sixes and 12 fours and his second ODI century is also his highest score.In contrast, Bell never looked fluent, scratching his way to a half-century in an 85-ball innings that contained only two fours.It was Bell’s wicket, caught at extra cover off the medium pace of Richie Berrington, that began England’s slide, a decline halted by the late impetus of Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler.Patient at first, Morgan accelerated to a 42-ball 46, including two sixes, while Buttler contributed an inventive 24 from 14 deliveries.If the win was most welcome for England, then next will be the runs scored by Morgan, who had managed only 19 in his previous five innings.The target of 304 always seemed beyond Scotland and they never came close to pulling off a first win against a Test-playing side.England put in comfortably their best bowling performance of the tournament, admittedly under little pressure, picking up wickets at regular intervals.
Finn, who conceded 49 runs in two overs against New Zealand, was the pick of the seamers, while Moeen (2-47) had Coetzer caught at long-on to end his resistance for 71.Coetzer had earlier added 60 with captain Preston Mommsen, who swept Root to deep square leg to spark the collapse that accelerated the end of the contest.The final seven wickets fell for 70 runs, with two wickets apiece for James Anderson and Chris Woakes, ensuring England’s margin of victory was extremely comfortable. But, the fact it could have been greater suggests there is still plenty of room for improvement.