Winless Scotland have been eliminated from the Men’s T20 World Cup with a 16-run defeat by New Zealand in Dubai.
Opener Martin Guptill hit a terrific 93 off 56 balls as New Zealand recovered from 52-3 to post 172-5 from 20 overs.
In a spirited reply, Scotland were going well at 100-3 after 14 overs but fell short on 156-5.
They have now lost all three matches in the Super 12s stage while New Zealand are third in Group 1, with the top two teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
Wins against Namibia and second-placed Afghanistan in their remaining two matches will be enough for the Black Caps to progress to the last four.
While Scotland will be disappointed at an early exit there are plenty of positives to take for the cricket minnows.
They had already exceeded expectations by topping Group B in the first round, which included a superb win over Bangladesh.
Poor performances against Afghanistan and Namibia in the Super 12s suggested it could be another one-sided contest against New Zealand, but Scotland held their own.
Seamer Safyaan Sharif’s hard work and disciplined bowling was rewarded with two wickets in the fifth over, including New Zealand captain Kane Williamson for a four-ball duck.
Spinner Mark Watt has also impressed this tournament, going at just 5.22 runs per over in six matches, and he enjoyed another fine spell with the ball, finishing with 1-13 from four overs.
It was also a much better display by Scotland’s batters who have endured a torrid time at points in the competition, most significantly when they fell to 2-3 in the first over against Namibia.
Perhaps their most memorable moment of the competition so far came in the fifth over of their chase when Matthew Cross, spectacularly smashed New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne for five consecutive boundaries.
Michael Leask’s highly entertaining knock of 42 from 20 balls ensured the game would be taken to the final over.
Scotland face India on Friday and Pakistan on Sunday, knowing a giant-killing could have a huge impact on the development of cricket in the country.
Having beaten pre-tournament favourites India on Sunday, it was another solid win for New Zealand with opener Guptil leading the way.
From exquisite flicks which cleared the boundary to more powerful blows, Guptill hit six boundaries and seven sixes in a magnificent knock and shared a 105-run fourth-wicket partnership with Glenn Phillips.
Guptill struggled with the Dubai heat at times, kneeling down between deliveries on several occasions, but still looked composed throughout his innings as he became the second man to reach 3,000 runs in T20 internationals, behind India’s Virat Kohli.
Having lost to Pakistan in their opening game of the tournament, New Zealand’s fate is now in their own hands and they may just be peaking at the right time.