Match Report: England v New Zealand
The mainstream cricket media, lead by live TV, was expecting a battle royal between the big two of the St Lucia Cricket World Cup Group, following Kenya's comfortable win over Canada in the opening group match. There was some good cricket, but the match was littered with some of the same shot selection downfalls that hit Canada on Wednesday....including a dismal opening to the New Zealand innings that nose-dived to 19 runs for 3 wickets.
But both these sides had significant series victories over Australia in their preparations for CWC 2007. Here they both stumbled in phases of the game. But that's the beauty of the cricket. New Zealand recovered to win by 6 wickets with 9 overs (54 balls)
The quality side of the match came from New Zealand's Shane Bond who bowled beautifully, conceding just 19 runs from his ten overs and came back earlier than usual to dismiss Kevin Pietersen, England's top scorer, and a resounding fifth wicket stand of 138 runs between Scott Styris and Jacob Oram to win the game. England can look back on Pietersen's 60 runs, hist stand of 81 for the 4th wicket with Paul Collingwood, the rearguard action from Paul Nixon and Laim Plunkett (71 runs for he 8th wicket) and some economic bowling by Freddie Flintoff.
England had a poor start, but 2 wickets down for 30 runs should have been three down as Vaughan gained a life from a run-out chance. It was not long before he was third out with 52 runs on the board. Pietersen and Collingwood lead a recovery that looked to be seeing England towards a reasonable total when they reached a 133 runs. But four wickets fell for just 4 runs. Collingwood went for31 runs, and next ball Pietersen was caught off Bond. His 60 runs were scored off 92 balls, with 4x4 and 1x6.Freddue Flintoff was soon kicking the ground in frustration as he holed out for a duck (0 runs) and Jamie Dalrymple became wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum's fourth catch of the innings. Syrus was the bowler credited with Collingwood and Dalrymple's dismissals.
England owed a debt to a valiant stand between Nixon and Plunkett that saw them both use up the allotted 50 overs and post a total of 209 runs for 8 wickets.
The game took an amazing twist as New Zealand lost Lou Vincent and Ross Taylor in the first two overs and their skipper, Stephen Fleming skied a ball to mid-wicket to make it 19 runs for 3 wickets at the end of 5 overs.
Craig McMillan and Styris began a recovery operation, mixing some piercing shots with singles. McMillan holed out when spinner Monty Panesar came on to bowl and the balance of the game swung back in England's favour. But this proved the last wicket that England captured. Styris increased in confidence with increasing support from Oram. Styris should have been caught by
Pierersen with the score on 148 runs, but a diving catch was dropped. Towards the end this pair was 'almost flying', to use Vaughan's words. Oram made 59 runs not out (82 balls, 3x4, 1x6) but pride of place went to Styris. He made 87 runs not out off 113 balls, hitting 9 boundaries.
Flintoff bowled 8 overs for just 17 runs and James Anderson took 2 wickets for 39 runs in 8 overs.
Styris said after the match 'The only way we thought we would lose was if they bowled us out.' Fleming talked of 'a nervy performance. It was a great relief to get 2 points in the bank. It was a tense day.' His side 'won't be underestimating the next two games (Kenya and Canada) in our preparations. We'll review the footage, but it's not as available as other teams '- the test playing sides.
England skipper Vaughan said 'I think it's a good thing to play so soon (England faces Canada on Sunday). We know the conditions here now. We've got to come out onSunday and win. We'll be playing our best eleven players against Canada. We've got to make sure we win the game.'