Moeen Ali hit his highest ever ODI score and took two wickets as England secured a convincing 119-run win over Scotland in their World Cup clash in Christchurch.
Moeen smacked 12 fours and five sixes on his way to 128 off just 107 balls as England posted a score of 303-8 – but having been 172-0 after 30 overs it was a slightly underwhelming target.
England captain Eoin Morgan did play himself back into a bit of form with 46 off 42 balls after a mini-collapse of three wickets for two runs but Scotland would have fancied their chances in chasing down the total after a good effort from their bowlers.
Moeen’s double and three wickets for Steven Finn in a positive return to form for him secured the much-needed win though for England – their first of the tournament – with Scotland dismissed for 184 in the 43rd over.
Some initial overhead conditions meant Scotland captain Preston Mommsen put England into bat on a good batting track at the Hagley Oval and although there were early signs of swing movement from the opening bowlers, England started strongly, Moeen in particular, clubbing a few glorious-looking boundaries.
Ian Bell (54) hit fifty as he the pair broke the record for England’s highest ever opening partnership at a World Cup but in truth it was a confused innings from Bell who used up 85 deliveries before falling in the 31st over.
England’s positive start lost further momentum and when Moeen fell to the slow, loopy spin of Majid Haq – sparking the middle-order collapse.
Gary Balance (10) had another failure batting at three and Joe Root (one) fell cheaply. Only 22 runs were added in the batting powerplay for those two wickets and England were in danger of not passing 300.
Morgan’s knock and a 14-ball 24 from Jos Buttler helped make sure they did pass that landmark but Scotland will still have been encouraged after dragging it back in the latter overs, with Josh Davey taking four for 68.
They started brightly in pursuit of their 304-run target with Northamptonshire’s Kyle Coetzer (71) particularly impressing.
Wickets fell regularly at the other end though with James Anderson (2-30) first accounting for Calum MacLeod caught behind as he charged down the wicket to him.
Chris Woakes (2-25) then bowled nicely in tandem with Finn as both made further inroads – the former dismissing Freddie Coleman and the latter, Matt Machan.
Coetzer steadied the ship with captain Mommsen (26), with a 60-run partnership for the fourth wicket – before Root made the crucial breakthrough with Mommsen caught in the deep top-edging a sweep.
Moeen’s brace swiftly followed – including the key wicket of Coetzer and Richie Berrington – as spin dominated the middle overs.
Scotland were 128-6 at that stage and all chance of a famous upset victory had long gone – Finn returned to take two more wickets before Anderson and Woakes polished off the tail with one apiece.
England jump off the foot of the Pool A table with the win and play Sri Lanka in Wellington on Sunday. While Scotland are next in action against Afghanistan in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Watch highlights of New Zealand v England on Sky Sports World Cup at 7am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm and 5pm. Don't miss The Verdict with Bob Willis, Michael Vaughan and Mark Butcher inbetween those shows.