PALLEKELE, March 8 (PTI): Birthday boy Ross Taylor smashed a whirlwind unbeaten century to set up an emphatic 110-run win for New Zealand against Pakistan in their group A match here today.
Taylor, who turned 27th today, cracked a breathtaking 131 runs off 124 balls to take New Zealand to a challenging 302 for seven after surviving two chances early in his innings at Pallekele stadium here.
Taylor hit eight fours and seven massive sixes in his innings and in the company of Jacob Oram piled up a mammoth 114 runs in the final six overs after skipper Daniel Vettori won the toss and elected to bat.
Fast bowlers Tim Southee and Kyle Mills then ran through the Pakistan batting line-up, reducing the Asian giants to 45 for five in 14.4 overs, before dismissing them for 192 with 8.2 overs to spare to reach top of the Group A table.
New Zealand will next play Canada and Sri Lanka in the last two league matches in Group A here.
Chasing 303 to win, Pakistan had a disastrous start when Southee trapped Mohammad Hafeez (5) in front of wicket in the second over. Mills then repeated the treatment to Ahmed Shehzad (10) as Pakistan slipped to 23-2 in 6.1 overs.
Mills soon sent Younis Khan�s (0) off stump for a walk, while Southee induced an edge off Kamran Akmal (8) to further break their back. After few overs, Misbah-ul-Haq (7) became a victim of Southee as Pakistan were looking down the barrel at 45-5 in the 15th over.
Skipper Shahid Afridi (17) then wielded his willow for a couple of fours and a six before falling prey to Jacob Oram in the 18th over.
Umar Akmal then hit a 58-ball 38 with the help of three fours and added 36 runs with Abdul Razzaq before holing out to Oram at deep midwicket off Nathan McCullum.
Razzaq fought hard for his 74-ball 62 and became only the fourth all-rounder in world cricket to score 5000 runs, beside taking 250 runs in one-day Internationals.
He and Umar Gul (34 not out) provided some late entertainment, adding 66 runs off 51 balls for the ninth wicket but it was too little too late in the end.
Earlier, Taylor made Pakistan pay heavily for dropping him on zero. Adopting a cautious approach in the beginning, Taylor, who survived two chances, exploded in the final stages of the innings and remained unbeaten on 131 runs that came off just 124 balls.
Utilising most of the opportunity, he showed scant respect to the Pakistani bowlers and struck as many as eight fours and seven sixes during his fiery innings.
Nathan McCullum (19 off 10) and Jacob Oram (25 off 9) scored briskly and gave perfect support to Taylor towards the end, while Martin Guptill came up with a gritty 86-ball 57 upfront to lay the foundation for the score.
Umar Gul was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with figures of three for 32 but the trio of Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq and Abdur Rehman were taken for special treatment by the Kiwi batters in the final overs.
Inspite of the impressive scorecard, it was not a rossy start for New Zealand after opting to bat as they lost Brendon McCullum early bowled by Shoaib Akhtar in the fourth delivery of the innings.
Guptill, on the other hand, looked solid and scored bulk of the runs in the initial overs even as Jamie How struggled.
After the initial hesitation, Guptill looked at ease and did not allow the runs to dry up hitting as many as six boundaries to notch up his fifty in 71 balls.
Guptill b Afridi 57
McCullum b Shoaib 6
How lbw b Gul 4
Taylor not out 131
Franklin lbw b Hafeez 1
Styris lbw b Gul 28
N McCullum b Gul 19
Oram c Gul b Rehman 25
Mills not out 7
Extras: (LB-10, W-11, NB-3) 24
Total: (For seven wkts in 50 overs) 302
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-55, 3-112, 4-113, 5-175, 6-210, 7-295.
Bowling: Shoaib 9-0-70-1, Rehman 10-0-60-1, Gul 10-1-32-3, Razzaq 4-0-49-0, Afridi 10-0-55-1, Hafeez 7-0-26-1.
Hafeez lbw b Southee 5
Shehzad lbw b Mills 10
Kamran Akmal c Taylor b Southee 8
Younis b Mills 0
Misbah-ul-Haq c Styris b Southee 7
Umar Akmal c Oram b N McCullum 38
Afridi b Oram 17
Razzaq c Oram b Styris 62
Abdur Rehman lbw b N McCullum 1
Gul not out 34
Shoaib c N McCullum b Styris 0
Extras: (lb 6, w 4) 10
Total: (all out; 41.4 overs) 192
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-23, 3-23, 4-23, 5-45, 6-66, 7-102, 8-125, 9-191, 10-192.
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, Styris 4.4-0-17-2.