ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Good Ross, bad Ross

There are two sides to Ross Taylor: the side that attempts too many strokes early, and the one that can be absolutely devastating. In Pallekele, both sides cohabited the same innings

Brydon Coverdale

March 8, 2011

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Ross Taylor's seven searing sixes will be the enduring image of Pallekele's first one-day international. The fact that Taylor flailed early in his innings, with his feet glued to the ground, that he was dropped and missed again by Kamran Akmal, that he skied another top-edge and was lucky it landed safely, will fade into the haze around Kandy's hills. All that mattered was those seven strikes that cleared the boundary from square leg to midwicket in the final six overs.

One spectator might even have pocketed a souvenir, after the ball disappeared over a stand next to the electronic scoreboard and into the trees behind it, never to return. Twenty20 cricket has made ridiculously fast scoring passé, yet the way Taylor finished his innings still felt like something special. Having scratched his way to 69 from 108 deliveries, he made a scarcely believable 62 from his last 16. It was like he suddenly realised he was better than that. His partnership with Jacob Oram had the best strike-rate of any 50-plus stand in ODI history.

Taylor makes the kind of mistakes that great batsmen don't, but some fine batsmen can't do things that come naturally to Taylor. Most impressive was his timing in those final stages of the innings, when 28 came off a Shoaib Akhtar over and 30 off the next over from the same end, bowled by Abdul Razzaq. The boundary was short and the bowlers helped by sending down low full tosses, but many players would still have skied a catch.

New Zealand supporters have been galled as much as enthralled by their captain-in-waiting in recent times. In the two years up until this match, he was averaging 28.80 in one-day internationals, nowhere near enough for the man who should be the best in the team. He chose a good time to score his first hundred since mid-2008, and not just because it was his 27th birthday.

Ross Taylor completed a fifty off 78 balls after getting off to a scratchy start, New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup, Pallekele, March 8, 2011
Ross Taylor's century in Pallekele was his first since 2008 © AFP

After thrashing Kenya and Zimbabwe, but being soundly defeated by Australia, New Zealand needed to beat one of the stronger sides to prove to themselves that they could compete in this World Cup. And, though he didn't know it while he was compiling his career-best 131, Taylor might have to lead the side in their upcoming matches if a knee injury sustained by Daniel Vettori in the field turns out to be serious.

If that is the case, he should at least be full of confidence. He wasn't at the start of his innings. Too often when Taylor comes to the crease, he tries to play strokes that he should save for later. His fifth ball was edged between Kamran and slip, his seventh drew an edge that most wicketkeepers in Under-13 cricket would take, but Kamran spilled, and he slashed cuts just out of reach of point off Shahid Afridi.

But good Ross and bad Ross often cohabit in the same innings. When he brought up his hundred with a pull for six off Akhtar, Taylor squatted close to the ground, catching his breath and feeling the relief of ending his century drought.

"I had a bit of luck early on," Taylor said. "My first 50, 60 or 70 balls I felt like I struggled and just tried to guts my way through, and probably caught up in those last 25 or 30 balls, which made my score look a lot better and made my day a lot better as well.

"It's been well documented back home that I haven't been in the greatest form of my life. It's been frustrating for myself, and probably a lot of others as well. When you're out of nick you need a bit of luck and I got that today. Over the last few months I've been trying to search for the perfect game. I've just tried to keep things as simple as possible and just watch the ball. Today was my day."

There is no question that it was Taylor's day, and when Vettori left the field in the sixth over of Pakistan's chase, it was Taylor who captained the side to victory. New Zealand just need good Ross to turn up for the rest of the tournament.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 51 
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Posted by Kieran on (March 10, 2011, 1:37 GMT)

GOD I LOVE BEING A KIWI!!! no matter what the situation, we got each others backs....COME ON BLACK CAPS!!

Posted by tam on (March 10, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

Did anyone notice how Ross Taylor changed his style of batting when things wasnt going rite for him during the innings, he went back to his old style whch was moving towards the offstump and from there on his batting was excellent

Posted by Dennis on (March 9, 2011, 20:56 GMT)

Hey Andrew maybe England should qualify for Q/F first , England are now a cricket minnow now .Bangledesh will beat you next .Can,t wait for Tamin to smash Anderson out of the attack . And Yardy whats with him - can,t bat or bowl .

Posted by Hayden on (March 9, 2011, 20:25 GMT)

@sunngazzer Yes, the Pakistanis did give in chances, and he capitalized on them just as any good batsmen would, when was the last time you saw a batsmen score 62 off only 16 balls, to me that should receive credit because it was a great feat of batsmen ship

Posted by Sydd on (March 9, 2011, 16:05 GMT)

Sorry to say Taylors ininning was not flawless..it was because other people sccumbed.. so no true credit to Ross Taylor.

Posted by Deepak on (March 9, 2011, 13:44 GMT)

No wonder I am a Rosco's fan since 5 yrs, though I am an Indian, the way he played for RCB in the IPL for 3 years, he is really the adopted son of Bengaluru, no matter which franchisee he plays for till he plays cricket in his life, he will be my best batsmen. Let Rosco for in all except that India win against NZL to win the WC !!!!!

Posted by Nataraj on (March 9, 2011, 13:04 GMT)

62 runs of just 16 balls,, one of greatest hard hitting by Rose tayler that too against Shoiab atkthar & co bowling. 114 of last 24 balls, oh it's some treat to watch. 188 of 44 overs and 302 of 50 something just cannot imagine against pak. well done Rose tayler.

Posted by Lalith on (March 9, 2011, 11:41 GMT)

This WC is wide open now. Until yesterday I wrote off NZ and 6 teams have ex WI the chance to win. People think IND is far ahead of others but I do not think so. All top 8 teams have more or less equal chance. I do not have a clear favorite now. We will have very competitive matches from QF. I think this is the best WC we ever have.

Posted by nalin on (March 9, 2011, 11:17 GMT)

I believe good Pakistan and awful Pakistan is a more apt commentary. New Zealand was 210/6 at end of 46th over and got 302 and then Pakistan lost 4 wickets in 7.1 overs to go from a winning position to certain defeat.The bowling and batting by Pakistan was woeful. If we get a repeat of 1992 WC final PAK v. ENG the match could end up as a topsy turvy farce.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 9, 2011, 10:38 GMT)

i can only hope that you are having a laugh andrew. anyone whose team loses to ireland cannot say anything you've said with a serious face

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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