Taylor magic gives Kiwis victory
Pakistan’s World Cup winning run came to an end as New Zealand gave them a 110-run hiding in Kandy on Tuesday.
The big win for the Kiwis takes them to the top of Group A, where they edge ahead of Pakistan on net run rate.
Ross Taylor’s huge batting onslaught late in the New Zealand innings took the Black Caps to 302/7 after they chose to bat first, and from that moment the life seemed to go from the Pakistan side.
Shahid Afridi’s men were in trouble from the word go in their reply, and once they were reduced to 23/4 they were dead and buried.
Earlier in the day, Taylor’s undefeated 131 helped New Zealand set Pakistan 303 to win, as the men in green let them to get away with an explosive finish to their innings.
It was a fantastic score for New Zealand after a largely sluggish knock that began with the loss of big hitter Brendon McCullum in the first over.
Their innings was a textbook display of how to recover steadily from early setbacks before turning up the heat to the maximum at the death -- New Zealand added a staggering 100 runs in the last five overs, a World Cup record.
Pakistan could only kick themselves for letting the total get that big, after they missed two early chances to get rid of Taylor.
Taylor was dropped with his score on zero and four, as Pakistan’s fielders completely lost the plot during the 14th over. Shoaib Akhtar got two clear nicks from the new batsman, only for the first to fly between the inexplicably idle first slip and wicket keeper.
The second chance was even easier, with unreliable keeper Kamran Akmal dropping a regulation catch.
Taylor made the Pakistanis pay for those blunders, despite struggling initially as he set about rebuilding the innings with Martin Guptill, who made 57 as the pair put on a slow 57 for the third wicket.
But those steady overs ultimately did the trick. Taylor was able to turn it on in a spectacular end to the New Zealand innings, bringing up his hundred with a six in the 48th over.
Yet it was only in the 45th over -- the penultimate one of the batting power play - that the innings got going at all.
At the start of that over the score was a paltry 188/5, but then it suddenly began to rain sixes thanks to Taylor, Nathan McCullum and Jacob Oram.
New Zealand added an unbelievable 114 in the final six overs as Pakistan’s bowling degenerated. Several wides offered New Zealand extra balls to hit away, and Taylor helped himself to seven sixes at the death.
The final six overs provided batting carnage of the highest order -- even a T20 match would have been envious as the Kiwi batsmen suddenly found the ability to send it over the ropes at will.
Akhtar went for 28 in a disastrous 47th over, and Abdul Razzaq was taken for an outlandish 30 in the 49th.
That led to some dreadful figures for the Pakistanis, with Akhtar getting 1/70 in nine, and Razzaq 0/49 in just four.
Even leading World Cup wicket-taker Afridi was unable to repeat his magic, getting just one wicket to take his tournament tally to 15.
Pakistan still appeared to be reeling when they came out to bat, and a succession of early wickets stole the life out of the contest.
Seamers Tim Southee and Kyle Mills teamed up to roll over Pakistan’s top five, with Taylor’s day getting even better as he took a good slip catch to get rid of number three Kamran Akmal.
First Pakistan were 23/3, then 45/5 and then 66/6. The lower order did a little better once the game started to drift, with Umar Akmal making a positive 38, Abdul Razzaq top-scoring with 62 and Umar Gul thrashing 34 not out.
But those contributions counted for little as the batting inevitably crumbled with the score on 192.
Taylor was Man of the Match on his birthday, having captained New Zealand for most of their fielding innings into the bargain. He stepped into the role after skipper Danny Vettori left the field, having injured his knee while diving to try and take a catch.
“I had a bit of luck early on and even on 30 or 40 I was still struggling,” said Taylor. “But then I saw how Nathan McCullum and Jacob Oram came out and batted, and that kind of showed me the way. A few came out the middle after that and I was pretty happy!
“We thought our total was just about par, and we didn’t want to be complacent. To have them six down after 20-odd overs was a credit to the bowlers; Tim Southee and Kyle Mills really led the way.”
Pakistan – Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar
New Zealand – Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (wk), Jami How, Ross Taylor, James Franklin, Scott Styris, Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori (capt), Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Jacob Oram