(Reuters) - Extraordinary hitting with a cracked bat by New Zealand birthday boy Ross Taylor helped his team pile on an amazing 85 runs in 3.4 overs and help set up a 110-run World Cup win over Pakistan on Tuesday.
Taylor was given two 27th birthday gifts, dropped on zero and eight off Shoaib Akhtar, before unleashing some of the most incredible slugging ever inflicted on an attack in a one-day international cricket match never mind the World Cup.
He thumped eight fours and seven sixes in his unbeaten knock of 131 scored off 124 balls in the Group A match, as New Zealand reached 302-7 from their 50 overs.
In response, Pakistan struggled from the off and at one stage were 66-6 and then 125-8. But Abdul Razzaq, in at No 8, gave more than a modicum of respectability to Pakistan with a defiant 62 in a ninth wicket partnership of 66 with Umur Gul (34 not out). Pakistan were eventually all out for 192.
The only cloud on the New Zealanders’ horizon was a knee injury to their skipper Daniel Vettori which left him unable to field for much of the Pakistan innings.
In one brutal over, the 35-year-old Pakistan paceman Shoaib was struck for three sixes and two fours in one over as Taylor raced passed three figures in 117 balls. That over cost Shoaib 28 runs.
More was to come. Having figured in half-century stands with Martin Guptill (57) and Scott Styris (28), he paired up with Jacob Oram (25 off nine balls) to power 85 off 22 balls. In all, New Zealand blasted 92 runs off the last four overs.
After his unbeaten spree, Taylor revealed his bat was split.
“I cracked it in the nets a couple of days ago but it seemed to go okay today ... hopefully the new one will be just as good,” he said. “I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks.
“One of our strengths is the power we have down at the bottom and it showed the way Nathan McCullum and Jake (Oram) batted.”