Pallekele (Sri Lanka), March 8 (IANS) Breathtaking hitting by century-maker Ross Taylor and Jacob Oram in the slog overs powered New Zealand to 302 against Pakistan in a World Cup Group A contest here Tuesday.
Birthday boy Taylor (131 off 124 balls) and Oram (25 off nine balls) mauled Pakistan in the last 10 overs which cost 139, the last four going for a whopping 92.
Taylor brought the stands of the new stadium down, smashing seven sixes and eight fours. Not to be left behind, Oram joined the party with three powerful strikes to clear the boundary.
New Zealand took the powerplay in the 42nd over. After playing watchfully the first few overs, they let themselves loose in Shahid Afridi’s last over (45th).
Afridi, the tournament’s most successful bowler, went for two sixes. The first one was struck by Nathan McCullum (19) and the second by Taylor.
McCullum smacked another off Umar Gul (3-32) before falling in the next ball.
Shaoib Akhtar was then taken to the cleaners by Taylor. The pacer was hit for 28 runs– 4,6,6 (1w),0,4,6.
Abdul Razaq went for 30 and left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman’s last two overs cost 34.
Taylor was let off the hook twice on nought by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal.
New Zealand was 180-5 in 43 overs. At that that time even a score of 240 seemed fine for the Kiwis.
Pakistan paid the price for finishing Afridi and Gul’s quotas of 10 overs as Akhtar (1-70 in nine overs) and Razzaq (0-49 in 4 overs) bowled poorly in the death overs.
Taylor, who turned 27 Tuesday, appeared shaky when he came to the crease. But he was completely unstoppable in the final overs as he continuously hit the ball out of the park.
Apart from Gul and Afridi, neither of Pakistan’s bowlers could really threaten New Zealand, which lost to Australia by seven wickets before bouncing back to record a 10-wicket win over minnows Zimbabwe.
New Zealand, after electing to bat, lost Brendon McCullum early before Martin Guptill (57) and Taylor consolidated the innings with a 57-run stand.