Pakistan treat birthday boy Taylor to a century and suffer big loss

New Zealand batsmen go on a rampage in final five overs and their rivals panic under pressure to lose by 110 runs

New Zealand's Ross Taylor hits a shot during their Group A match against Pakistan in Pallekele.
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PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka // There had to be a reason for the helmets. The security task teams who patrol cricket matches in Sri Lanka are never knowingly under-equipped.

The guns they carry seem completely out of kilter with the celebratory atmosphere that has typified all the World Cup matches on the Tear Drop island. But the riot squad helmets evidently have a practical use.

With New Zealand's Ross Taylor at the wicket and in the mood he was in yesterday, you are not safe no matter how far away from the action you are stood.  Perhaps they should be issued as standard with the match ticket.



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In making his first one-day international century since October 2008, Taylor muscled seven sixes over the ropes. Most ended up with a mass of raucous supporters vying to catch the ball on the grass banks of this beguilingly beautiful ground.

Two missed the stands completely, soaring out of the ground, and might have caused damage to some unsuspecting passers-by.
Pakistan are well supported here. Too well for some people's liking. When they played against Sri Lanka in Colombo last week, there was a minor ruction over the number of Sri Lankans who opted to support Pakistan instead.

Religion was said to be the reason: Khettarama, where the stadium is situated, has a high Muslim population. Pakistan are popular in the Hill Country, too, but their first defeat of the tournament was not universally mourned last night.

New Zealanders are popular sportsmen in this city. Kandy is Sri Lanka’s rugby capital, and All Blacks branded shirts – official or otherwise – are available in its market places.

On the trip from the city centre to the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, which is 30 minutes away, the players might have spotted a black parked car with the silver fern and “All Blacks” written on the side.

Taylor is in the minority in New Zealand as a sportsman of Samoan heritage who opted to play cricket rather than rugby. When he started his blitz, he converted any supporters who had been in neutral territory to get behind the New Zealanders. His hitting brought to mind the similarly brutal century by Kevin O’Brien for Ireland earlier in the tournament.

Taylor and O’Brien were born four days apart, albeit on opposite sides of the world, and they honed their skills at the same finishing school, as MCC Young Cricketers together at Lord’s in London.

New Zealand’s power-hitter was celebrating his 27th birthday yesterday and was given two gifts early in the piece by Kamran Akmal, Pakistan’s hapless wicketkeeper.

First Akmal and Younus Khan, at first slip, left it to each to catch a thick edge when Taylor was on nought. Neither went for it, and Taylor was away. Two balls later, Akmal dropped the simplest chance off the same batsman.

Later, Taylor was given another present, though he might not necessarily have coveted it. Daniel Vettori limped from the field after injuring a knee while attempting the catch, and was unable to return, leaving the captaincy in Taylor’s hands.

Once Tim Southee and Kyle Mills had made inroads with the new ball, New Zealand’s path to victory was an easy one, give or take a mini-Abdul Razzaq blast.

In making 62, Razzaq became the fourth player, and the fastest in terms of matches, to achieve the double of 5,000 one-day international runs and 250 wickets. However, he was cut off just as he was beginning threaten the type of destruction he caused against South Africa in Abu Dhabi recently.

New Zealand’s success was a triumph for some old school planning by John Wright, their wily coach. The former India coach has set his side the game plan of making it to the 35th over with no more than three wickets down, to lay a platform for a blast in the last 15 overs.

They had lost four this time, but all that meant was they had to delay their assault a little longer. When it did arrive, it was extraordinary. With Taylor and Jacob Oram the major players, New Zealand made 114 runs in the last six overs, including one over worth 30 off Razzaq.


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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.

Abdul 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.

The 32-year-old landed awkwardly as he tried to catch Kamran Akmal at mid-on and was helped to the dressing room by team officials.  "Dan hurt his right knee while attempting a catch. He is currently taking ice treatment and was being assessed," team media manager Ellery Tappin said.

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 the 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.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori injured his right knee while attempting a catch in his team's World Cup Group A win against Pakistan at Pallekele stadium.


New Zealand:
M Guptill b Afridi 57
B McCullum b Akhtar 6
J How lbw b Gul 4
R Taylor not out 131
J Franklin lbw b Hafeez 1
S Styris lbw b Gul 28
N McCullum b Gul 19
J Oram c Gul b Rehman 25
K Mills not out 7
Extras: (lb10, nb3, w11) 24

Total: (for seven wkts; 50 overs) 302
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (B McCullum), 2-55 (How), 3-112 (Guptill), 4-113 (Franklin), 5-175 (Styris), 6-210 (N McCullum), 7-295 (Oram)
Bowling: Akhtar 9-0-70-1 (nb3, w3), Rehman 10-0-60-1 (w1), Gul 10-1-32-3 (w2), Razzaq 4-0-49-0 (w4), Afridi 10-0-55-1, Hafeez 7-0-26-1 (w1)

Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Southee 5
Ahmed Shahzad lbw b Mills 10
Kamran Akmal c Taylor b Southee 8
Younis Khan b Mills 0
Misbah-ul-Haq c Styris b Southee 7
Umar Akmal c Oram b N. McCullum 38
Shahid Afridi b Oram 17
Abdul Razzaq c Oram b Styris 62
Abdur Rehman lbw b N. McCullum 1
Uar Gul not out 34
Shoaib Akhtar c N. McCullum b Styris 0
Extras: (lb6, w4) 10

Total: (all out; 41.4 overs) 192
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Hafeez), 2-23 (Shahzad), 3-23 (Younis), 4-23 (Kamran), 5-45 (Misbah), 6-66 (Afridi), 7-102 (Umar), 8-125 (Rehman), 9-191 (Razzaq), 10-192 (Akhtar)
Bowling: Mills 8-1-43-2, Southee 8-1-25-3, Oram 10-1-47-1, Franklin 5-0-26-0, N. McCullum 6-0-28-2 (w4), Styris 4.4-0-17-2

Result: New Zealand won by 110 runs