Cricket Kiwis hammer favoured Pakistan

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:27 PM ET

Ross Taylor couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate his 27th birthday.

The New Zealander turned in one of the most explosive displays of power-hitting in the 36-year history of the Cricket World Cup by flaying the hide off the ball and slicing Pakistan’s vaunted bowling attack to shreds at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Tuesday.

The right-hander’s unbeaten knock of 131 off 124 balls propelled his team to a 110-run victory over the previously unbeaten Pakistanis and, more importantly, to the top of Group A ahead of Australia and Sri Lanka. New Zealand made 302 for seven and Pakistan limped to 192.

There have been some brilliant feats in previous tournaments and this one probably ranks second behind that of Adam Gilchrist’s in the 2007 final against Sri Lanka. The Australian opener obliterated Sri Lanka’s bowling with a sizzling 149 off 104 balls as Australia won its third straight trophy.

Few expected the late fireworks yesterday as the Kiwis made a pedestrian start, scoring 99 for two after 25 overs. After 40 overs it was 163 for four and that’s when all hell broke loose.

In an astonishing demonstration of batting that will be talked about for years the Kiwis got 100 runs off the last five overs with Taylor slamming eight fours and seven sixes. His twin assault on pacemen Shoaib Akhtar in the 47th over and Abdul Razzaq in the 49th left the Pakistanis shell-shocked.

He slammed Akhtar for three sixes over midwicket to take his score from 76 to 102! Two overs later Razzaq fell victim to Taylor`s bat as he gave away 30 runs. The other casualty in the over was Taylor’s overworked bat. It cracked and he had it replaced.

Taylor received good support from Jacob Oram who hammered three sixes in his 25 off nine balls as the pair put on 85 in 22 deliveries.

The crowd gave Taylor a standing ovation and one held a sign “Happy Birthday Rose Taylor.’’ Ross or Rose, we are sure it smelled just as sweet.

But the two gifts he must have truly appreciated were handed to him by Pakistan wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal. Akmal gave him two “lives” in three balls – on 0 and 4 – and he celebrated in grand style. This was a disgraceful piece of fielding as any wicketkeeper in a pub league would have taken these catches.

“I have no excuse. We didn’t bowl well, we didn’t field well,’’ Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi understated.

Pakistan folded meekly after losing three wickets on 23 to crash to 45 for five. Only Razzaq (62), Umar Gul (34) and Umar Akmal (38) put up any resistance.

It would have been a perfect night for the Kiwis had it not been for an injury suffered by captain Daniel Vettori as he attempted to take a catch. He jarred his knee and had to be carried off. New Zealand hopes he recovers soon as he is an important member of the team.

Injury is taking its toll on this long drawn-out tournament. West Indies lost all-rounder Dwayne Bravo in the first week and England lost two players in two days. All-rounder Kevin Pietersen flew home after aggravating a hernia problem and paceman Stuart Broad pulled a muscle. England flew in replacements Chris Tremlett and Eoin Morgan.


Videos

Photos