Scotland's bowling performance against New Zealand on Tuesday sent another warning to the major cricketing nations that the associate members were not at the World Cup to make up the numbers.

A day after Ireland stunned the West Indies to chase down the Caribbean total of 304-7 in Nelson, Scotland had a sniff of a massive upset at University Oval in Dunedin when they reduced the World Cup co-hosts to 137 for seven, chasing 143 for a win.

"We were right in the game," Scotland captain Preston Mommsen told reporters after New Zealand snuck a three-wicket victory. "All it takes is one or two good balls ... and they're nine down.

"So we were very close."

With only Iain Wardlaw truly threatening of pace and Majid Haq a more than capable off-spinner, New Zealand were expected to canter to victory.

Too often, their batsmen went for risky shots as they attempted to increase the team's net run rate and Mommsen said that had influenced the way they approached the run chase.

"I was pretty confident they'd look to build on their net run rate and try to knock the runs off quickly," he said. "At the same time, I knew that could provide opportunities and it did.

"Chasing out a small total might have been a little bit tricky for them, and it might have changed the way their natural game would usually be.

"(But) I think it showed that their batters were vulnerable if you're able to keep them under pressure consistently and put the balls in good areas, as any batter is."

New Zealand had put Scotland on the back foot after Tim Southee and Trent Boult had produced an outstanding spell of swing bowling and reduced them to 12 for four in the fifth over, though Mommsen took that as a positive.

:I think from a batting point of view, it's good we've been exposed to that sort of skill this early in the tournament," Mommsen said.

"So it's a massive learning day for us, especially for the top six. Hopefully we can use that to our strength as we look to improve as this tournament goes on."

Mommsen added that Ireland's victory over West Indies on Monday had crossed his mind and with their own recent victory over their Celtic neighbours, they would approach the rest of the tournament with a bit more confidence.

"I don't feel we have anything to prove here," he said.

"At the same time we realize the importance of showing in a good performance for associate cricket and hopefully the performance we put on today it gets people talking and shows people that associates belong at World Cups."