Birthday boy basks in blazing knock that derailed Pakistan.
KANDY: It seemed as if Daniel Vettori was busy writing the script while his opponents, and teammates even, prepared to endure a sunny afternoon on an untested surface against familiar opponents.
The New Zealand captain had labelled Ross Taylor his best batsman on the eve of the match with high hopes from him despite the captain-to-be having failed to cross the three-figure mark for almost two and a half years.
“Your best players are the ones that win you the World Cup,” Vettori had said in the pre-match press conference. “Taylor is a very good player if not our best batsman and at some point, he’ll win us a game.”
Vettori went on to add “hopefully tomorrow” with confidence you have prior to placing a large bet. It seemed, despite the odds stacked against it, that the birthday boy had opted to repay his captain’s faith and trust.
He destroyed the opposition, bringing the former champions crashing down to earth following their false ascendency to the “favourites” tag.
Yesterday was Taylor’s day, his “best game” according to the batsman himself who scored a blazing 131 following a poor start, including missed chances behind the stumps, to take New Zealand to a score that proved way beyond Pakistan’s reach.
“You need a bit of luck in cricket and I got that,” said Taylor after New Zealand’s thumping win.
“I had been searching for that perfect game and it had been a long time since I scored a limited-overs century so I’m a bit relieved to have scored that in such an important match.”
Reprieved twice in three balls, an edge going between wicket-keeper and the first slip and a straightforward chance spilled by Kamran Akmal when Taylor was on eight, Pakistan were left ruing what could have been.
“Credit to Taylor who played a wonderful knock,” said Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis.
“We didn’t quite expect him to go berserk like that at the end but the way he played, it was wonderful to watch.”
Taylor, who derailed Pakistan, last scored a One-Day International century in October 2008, scoring 103 against Bangladesh in Chittagon but his blasting knock against stronger opponents in testing conditions had sounded warning bells to the opponents despite New Zealand’s poor run-in to the World Cup.