Scotland's brave World Cup qualification bid ended in tears when they were on the receiving end of a Dutch demolition job.

The Scots went into the winner-takes-all clash in Bulawayo in high spirits after claiming the scalps of three Test nations earlier in the tournament.

Their prospects looked bright after Brandon McMullen’s second century of the competition helped set the Netherlands 278 to win – a tally they had to overhaul in 44 overs to edge out Scotland on net run-rate.

Scotland still appeared to be in charge after reducing their rivals to 163-5 after 31 overs.

However, a punishing onslaught from Bas de Leede, who had earlier claimed five wickets, shattered Scotland’s dream.

De Leede plundered 123 runs from an under-par Scottish bowling attack and an increasingly nervy fielding unit as the Dutch raced to their target with four wickets and seven balls in hand.

However, the Scots will question how they managed to lose the initiative after applying impressive pressure in the middle of the innings which meant that their rivals had to score at 11 runs an over for the last ten.

The equation became 45 runs from the final four, only for successive overs from Mark Watt and McMullen to go for 22 and 20 runs respectively as a place at the global showpiece in India later this year was ripped ruthlessly from their grasp.

Scotland skipper Riche Berrington admitted: “It’s obviously a really tough one to take today and the guys are hurting right now.

“We just didn’t have enough today and credit to the Netherlands for the way they played – they ran really well and put us under pressure.

“We maybe weren’t as disciplined with the ball as we have been but the bowlers have been fantastic throughout the tournament.

“I think we pulled things back in the middle overs but then let them back in it.

“We were prepared and ready for this match and knew we would face tough matches throughout the competition - we have to admit that today Holland were the better team and deserved to win.”

De Leede faced just 92 balls, smashing seven boundaries and five big maximums before being run out with his side on the cusp of victory.

Earlier McMullen and Berrington produced a fine partnership after Scotland, having been sent in to bat, suffered a familiar loss of early wickets.

Matthew Cross was unable to continue his run of promising form, bowled in the first over by Logan van Beek.

Fellow opener Chris McBride helped McMullen add 45 for the second wicket but, having made 32 with six boundaries, he pulled a short delivery from de Leede straight to van Beek at mod-wicket.

George Munsey’s disappointing tournament continued when he gloved a catch to the keeper off de Leede for 9.

However, the rebuilding process was brilliantly undertaken by McMullen and the captain who compiled a record Scottish partnership against the Netherlands of 137 in 23 overs.

McMullen led the way with some attractive stroke-play, particularly through the offside where he accumulated most of his runs, twice hoisting clearances over extra cover with apparently effortless ease.

A third maximum soared over long-on while there were also eleven boundaries as he motored to another century.

However, having made 106 from 110 balls, he got the thinnest of nicks through to the keeper and had to depart.

The experiment of promoting Michael Leask one place up the order to exploit a perfect platform failed when he charged at Ryan Klein and had his stumps shattered.

Berrington, though, was still looking in the mood and proceeded to reach his eighteenth ODI half-century.

He had faced 84 balls for his 64 with three boundaries and two sixes when de Leede moved a delivery off the seam to get through his defences.

Cameos of 18 from Chris Greaves and Tom Mackintosh whose 38no came from 28 deliveries hoisted the tally to 277-9 but at one stage they had looked on course for at least 300.

De Leede did the bulk of the damage with 5-52 and went on to shatter Scotland again with that explosive batting display.

Berrington added: “Although today is a tough one, when you look over the whole tournament, we can be proud of the way we’ve played.

“A lot of players have put their hands up at different stages and we’ve brought in some young players who have performed well. The building blocks are there and there are good signs for the future.”