TORONTO - New Zealandís batsmen enjoyed terrific form against Pakistan a few days ago. Against Canada on Sunday, they were simply unstoppable.
But it was not all bad news for Canada as the batting has become much better as this cricket World Cup has gone on.
Canada won the toss and elected to field first, hoping the pitch could be in their favour. It didnít work out but in reality it didnít matter in the end when a side, whose mindset is to go for boundaries, is on the kind of run the Kiwis are enjoying.
New Zealand found a way to punish both the good deliveries and the bad, against both the seamers and spinners, regardless of line or length. The total of 358 for six which led to their 97-run victory featured 47 balls finding the boundary split into 35 fours and 12 sixes, more than enough to please the gathering at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Brendon McCullum led the chase with 101 runs with 12 fours and two sixes. But his 21/2-hour run hardly produced the biggest fireworks. Those were saves for the latter overs of the innings. Ross Taylor, the hero against Pakistan, made 74 off 44 balls. Kane Williamson had 34 off 27 balls. Scott Styris made 35 off just 20 balls. And to top it all off, James Franklin brought in 31 with two fours and three sixes, facing just eight balls with only the 50-over mark stopping his progress.
John Davison actually had a good bowling spell, giving up 30 runs and taking a wicket in 10 overs. Otherwise, nothing but frustration. Harvir Baidwan took three wickets but gave up more than nine runs an over in his spell. Rizwan Cheema gave up 64 runs in five overs. And it didnít help matters that the teamís fielding was sub-par compared with other games in the tournament.
So all Canada could do in reply was try to bat 50 overs and make the most of their appearance at this small but famous ground which will host the final in three weeks. Mission accomplished on both tasks. Their total of 261 for nine was their best World Cup showing and second-best against a test nation behind a 265 score against Bangladesh in 2007.
Their Bollywood cameo included 25 fours and three sixes including 10 boundaries by captain Ashish Bagai who made 84 off 87 balls, despite having cramping issues. Jimmy Hansra made 70 for the second game in a row but also suffered in the Mumbai heat and left the game not out. Hiral Patel made 31. Khurram Chohan made 22 off 16 balls late in the order and John Davison added 15. Jacob Oram took three wickets for New Zealand.
ďGood show from Patel. Nice to get runs myself, but we lost the game in the first half of the crease,Ē Bagai said. ďIt was hot today, so got some cramps after keeping and batting, it got to me. We will look to get out on a high in Bangalore, on a true track against Australia.Ē
Meanwhile in Bangalore, Kenya made 264 for six to regain some pride in a 60-run loss to Australia. Collins Obuya made 98 and Tanmay Mishra had 72 against the unbeaten defending champs, who were favoured in this match by as much as 200-1 by some bookmakers. Australia had opened 324 for six with Michael Clarke making 93, Brad Haddin making 65, and Michael Hussey making 54 in his return to the side off a hamstring injury.
Canada and Australia will meet on Wednesday.