Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Zealand beats Pakistan, tops Group A rankings

The first one day international at Pallekele, Kandy in Sri Lanka will be remembered for two reasons. One, a batting display for the ages by Ross Taylor. Two, inept wicket keeping by Kamran Akmal. In a beautiful, scenic stadium with a capacity of 35000, Ross Taylor showed the importance of building an innings and staying till then the end. Kamran Akmal put up a show he would like to forget as soon as humanly possible. He dropped Ross Taylor twice who went on to score an unbeaten 131 off 124 balls and win the Man of the Match award. New Zealand won by a huge 111 run margin and is now top of the Group A table with 6 points.
Earlier, Daniel Vettori won the toss and opted to bat. Shahid Afridi opened Pakistan’s bowling with Shoaib Akhtar and left arm spinner Abdur Rehman. It looked like New Zealand’s decision to bat might backfire with the team losing Brendon McCullum and Jamie How quickly. After that, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor set about building a slow 57 run partnership that took 17 overs. However, Guptill and new batsman James Franklin were both dismissed with the span of a run. It was left to Ross Taylor, in the company of Scott Styris, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram and then Kyle Mills to take New Zealand from 113-4 to 302-7. Taking the batting powerplay in the 42nd over helped New Zealand, as Pakistan’s best bowlers Umar Gul and Afridi completed their quota of 10 overs by the end of the powerplay. New Zealand plundered 114 runs from their last 6 overs, riding on a volley of sixes from Ross Taylor.
Following the assault by the New Zealand batsmen, the opening bowlers Kyle Mills and Tim Southee sent the Pakistan top-order back in no time. Among their top five batsmen, only Ahmed Shehzad scored in double digits. Slumping to 66-6 in the 18th over, Pakistan was never in the chase. Pakistan was eventually bundled out for 192 despite a late 62 run cameo by Abdul Razzaq.
Pakistan has some serious assessment to do about the problems New Zealand has brought sharply into focus-the weakness in its bowling lineup apart from Umar Gul, the inconsistency of its spearhead Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzaq and its poor fielding. Pakistan, which looked like a potential champion till the 44th over of the first innings, was made to look third rate for the rest of the game. For New Zealand, Ross Taylor’s brilliance today could be precisely what the doctor ordered.

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