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Birthday boy Taylor blasts Kiwis to victory

KANDY, Sri Lanka, (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 to set up a 110-run World Cup win over Pakistan yesterday.

Taylor was given two 27th birthday gifts, missed on zero and dropped on 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.

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.”

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.

It was the pre-match Group A leaders' first defeat in their fourth match. The Kiwis now take their place at the top.

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi summed up ruefully: “We didn't bowl well, we didn't field well and we missed opportunities.

“The fielding is the area where you can easily win a lot of games but we didn't take our chances. I have confidence in my team and we definitely won't repeat this performance.”

The only cloud on the New Zealanders' horizon was a knee injury suffered by their skipper Daniel Vettori which left him unable to field for much of the Pakistan innings.

Taylor, who took Vettori's place as skipper on the field, said the team would know more about the injury in the next couple of days.

But there was nothing that could take too much of the gloss off Taylor's memorable birthday as he smashed his debut World Cup ton and a career best.

In one brutal over, the 35-year-old Pakistan paceman Shoaib was struck for three sixes and two fours 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 100 runs off the last five overs.

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Published March 09, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 09, 2011 at 9:39 am)

Birthday boy Taylor blasts Kiwis to victory

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