Birthday boy Taylor thrives on gift let-offs
Kiwis rout Pakistan by 110 runs
PALLEKELE: Ross Taylor celebrated his 27th birthday with a career-best unbeaten 131 to help New Zealand beat Pakistan by an emphatic 110-run margin at Pallekele stadium on Tuesday. Taylor benefitted from two let-offs by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal to guide New Zealand to an imposing 302-7 before Tim Southee (3-25) restricted Pakistan to 192 in the World Cup Group A match at the newly-built stadium. Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals and suffered their second biggest World Cup defeat, leaving a packed 30,000 crowd disappointed. Scott Styris (2-17), Nathan McCullum (2-28) and Kyle Mills (2-43) also chipped in with useful bowling to halt Pakistan’s unbeaten progress in the tournament.
The win gave New Zealand – six points from four matches – top position in Group A on a better run-rate. Pakistan also have six points from four matches, followed by Sri Lanka (five from four) and Australia (five from three). “I don’t have any excuses but I must say that I know we didn’t bowl well, we didn’t field well and we missed opportunities,” said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi. Taylor added: “We thought that it was probably only a par total. I think it probably nipped around a little bit with the dew and the way that Abdul Razzaq (62) batted our bowlers couldn’t quite hold onto the ball at the end but pleased with the result.” Razzaq (62), Umar Akmal (38) and Umar Gul (34 not out) put up some resistance. But it was never threatening for New Zealand who didn’t miss skipper Daniel Vettori, who was forced to leave the field after injuring his knee.
Pakistan’s worst World Cup defeat was by 112 runs, against England at Cape Town in 2003. Razzaq, when he reached 22, became the fourth player behind Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi and Jacques Kallis to score 5000 runs and take 250 wickets in ODIs. But it was Taylor’s day as he hit eight boundaries and seven sixes during his 124-ball knock, peaking in the final 10 overs in which New Zealand collected 139 runs – 100 in last five. Taylor could have been out for nought, had Akmal not missed a regulation edge in paceman Shoaib Akhtar’s second spell. He also dropped Taylor in the same Akhtar over when he had made just eight. Taylor made the most of his good fortune and ran riot in the 47th over of the innings, hitting Akhtar for two boundaries and three sixes – 28 runs in all – to reach his first World Cup hundred off 117 deliveries. He then hit two boundaries and three sixes to take 30 off Abdul Razzaq’s 49th over.
Taylor added a blistering 85 for the seventh wicket with Jacob Oram (25 off just nine balls, with three sixes and a boundary) off just 22 balls to punish a hapless Pakistan bowling attack. Taylor’s previous best of 128 not out came against Sri Lanka at Napier in 2006. This was his first ODI hundred since his three-figure knock in Bangladesh in October 2008. Taylor added 57 for the third wicket with Martin Guptill (57) and 62 for the fifth wicket with Scott Styris (28). Pakistan, who opened the bowling with left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman – the first time they opened with a spinner since April 1998 – got dangerous Brendon McCullum in the first over, bowled by Akhtar for six. Gul, the pick of Pakistan bowlers with 3-32, dismissed Jamie How (four) to make it 55-2, leaving the repair work to Taylor and Guptill. Akhtar conceded 70 in his nine overs, while Razzaq was clobbered for 49 in four. Pakistan next face Zimbabwe here on Monday, while New Zealand travel to Mumbai to face Canada (March 13) and Sri Lanka (March 18) in their last two matches. Pakistan wrap-up their group matches against defending champions Australia in Colombo on March 19.