Birthday boy Ross Taylor rode his luck to good effect to score a spectacular 131 not out and ensure New Zealand a comprehensive 110-run win over Pakistan in the World Cup Group A encounter at Pallekele (Kandy) on Tuesday.
In what was the first One Day International match at the brand new stadium named after the legendary Muttiah Muralidaran, the Black Caps gave a good all round performance to register their third win in four matches in the tournament.
More importantly, it was just their second win in eight matches over Pakistan in the World Cup while being their 35th win overall '" against 51 defeats '" in 89 matches.
That's all for the day folks!
Thanks for being with us. Good night.
Abdul Razzaq is finally dismissed for 62.
The allrounder is caught at long-on by Oram off Styris.
He and Gul put on 66 runs for the ninth wicket.
Three balls later, Styris has Shoaib Akhtar (0) caught by Nathan McCullum.
It is all over for Pakistan. They have been dismissed for 192 in just 41.4 overs.
Congratulations to New Zealand for their third win in four matches.
Abdul Razzaq is regaling the crowd with a few exquisite hits.
And it is Kyle Mills who is bearing the brunt of the punishment.
The Pakistani batsmen seem to be enjoying the batting powerplay.
In fact, at the 38 over mark, they are well ahead of New Zealand in terms of runs scored.
Razzaq and Gul have put on a 50-plus partnership for the ninth wicket.
New Zealand is missing Vettori here.
Nathan McCullum has trapped Abdur Rehman (1) leg before to reduce Pakistan to 127 for eight (after 33 overs).
With no wickets left, Pakistan has no option but to take the batting powerplay.
And Abdul Razzaq has taken advantage of the field restrictions to score a couple of boundaries and in the process become just the fourth player to complete the 5000 runs / 250 wickets double.
Umar Akmal (38) and Abdul Razzaq put on 36 runs for the seventh wicket before Nathan McCullum has the former caught by Oram.
Defeat is inevitable.
What is left to be seen now is the margin.
Will the Pakistani tailenders be able to do reduce that?
It is already a lost cause for Pakistan.
What Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzaq can try and do is decrease the margin of the defeat and look at playing out the remaining overs rather than going for ambitious shots.
The crowd had long sensed a New Zealand triumph and has been celebrating for some time now.
Shahid Afridi (17) has eased the pressure a bit by hitting successive boundaries off Jacob Oram and a maximum, wide of long on, off James Franklin.
Can he help Pakistan put up a fight?
The answer is no.
Oram has had his revenge, rattling the Pakistan captain's stumps.
The crowd has gone ballistic.
Drums, trumpets, whistles what not, the atmosphere in the ground, staging its first international match, is unbelievable.
Having lost four wickets, Pakistan is making slow progress. The crowd is nonetheless enjoying itself.
Misbah-ul-Haq is out, caught by Styris. Southee gets his third wicket.
Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal have a job at hand. They have to not only stem the fall of wickets but also ensure a steady flow of runs.
Ross Taylor frustrates Pakistan again. This time at the slips.
The century-maker has caught Kamran off Southee.
Southee has finally got his man - Kamran had two reprieves in his last over.
Pakistan in dire straits in less than eight overs.
Daniel Vettori has made a blunder here.
He has missed a chance at mid-on to send Kamran back. Southee loses out on another wicket.
The New Zealand skipper seems to have hurt himself while trying to take the catch.
He has gone out of the field and to the physio.
In the next ball, Southee has dropped Kamran off his own bowling, a difficult chance this though.
However, Kyle Mills has given his side a second breakthrough by trapping Shehzad (10) leg before.
Three balls later, Mills strikes for the second time in the over, cleaning up the experienced Younis Khan (0).
Pakistan is in trouble now for sure.
The early breakthrough seems to have lifted the spirits of the Kiwis further, if Taylor's ton hadn't already.
Their fielders are all over the place.
Ahmed Shehzad has though managed to find a way to breach them, he hits a boundary past the extra cover off Mills.
Southee's first over got him a wicket. His second is a maiden.
Welcome back to the live coverage.
Tim Southee has ensured New Zealand an early breakthrough here, having Mohammad Hafeez (5) out leg before.
Hafeez asked for the review but Southee's delivery was bang on. The decision stands.
Birthday boy Ross Taylor rode his luck to good effect to score a spectacular 131 and ensure New Zealand a formidable total (302 for seven) in the World Cup Group A encounter against Pakistan at Pallekele (Kandy) on Tuesday.
Taylor, who turned 27 on Tuesday, came back to form in style by registering his fourth one-day hundred '" his first since October 2008 (against Bangladesh).
The batsman's 124-ball knock was inclusive of eight hits to the fence and seven over it.
New Zealand have put up a formidable total. Let's see how Pakistan measure up to it.
Will be back in some time folks!
Taylor has taken over.
It is Shoaib who suffered the most. In the Rawalpindi Express' ninth over, the 47th of the innings, Taylor has plundered 28 runs.
4, 6, 6, 1 (wide), 0, 4, 1 (wide), 6 '" that is how the runs came, the final six ensuring him his hundred.
A massive six over long-on from Nathan McCullum's (19) blade.
Guess who the bowler is?
It's Afridi, bowling his final over. Two balls later, it is another maximum, this time over the deep square-leg boundary.
Afridi's 10 overs has cost Pakistan 55 runs and on this occasion the captain has returned with just one wicket.
Another six comes off Gul. However, the latter cleans him up soon after.
The batting powerplay has produced 37 runs.
The fifth wicket stand between Taylor and Styris has come in just 64 balls and brought the New Zealand camp some much-needed relief.
It is perhaps the right time to take the batting powerplay.
Vettori is thinking the same. The batting powerplay has been taken in the 42nd over.
New Zealand is 173 for four after 41 overs. How much they make in the next five overs will have a huge bearing on their final total.
In fact, Gul has struck, giving Pakistan the breakthrough.
Styris departs for a well-made 28.
New Zealand cross the 150-run mark in the 37th over.
The strategy of Taylor and Styris - to keep rotating the strike - seems to be working well.
Umar Gul is being re-introduced into the attack in the 38th over.
A wild heave from Taylor lands in no man's land. The birthday boy is having all the luck.
The batting powerplay is yet to be taken and that can be a crucial phase for New Zealand. Remember, they have wickets in hand.
Ross Taylor and Scott Styris have started a rebuilding job.
The experienced duo are looking more to keep rotating the strike than to go for big shots.
Taylor, who turns 27 today, has ensured himself a perfect birthday gift - a well-made half-century.
It is his 20th ODI half century.
After 35 overs, New Zealand has made 140 for four.
Image: Ross Taylor raises his bat to celebrate scoring 50 (Reuters)
Ross Taylor continues to ride his luck.
The birthday boy is closing on his 20th ODI half-century.
James Franklin has replaced Guptill at the crease.
And he doesn't survive long.
Hafeez traps him leg before in the next over. He goes for a review.
To no avail though. New Zealand have lost two quick wickets here.
Guptill and Taylor are putting up a good little partnership here.
They have slowly but steadily rebuilt the Black Caps' innings. Their third wicket stand has yielded 57 runs.
Meanwhile, Hafeez has asked for review regarding a Guptill stumping. The latter is safe though, well inside the crease.
Pakistan again sense a run out opportunity. The umpire has asked for a review. And Taylor is safe.
However, Afridi has given Pakistan the breakthrough they needed. He has cleaned up Guptill (57).
It is Afridi's 15th wicket in this World Cup.
Shahid Afridi has finally come in to bowl, in the 21st over. The captain has replaced Umar Gul in the attack.
A good first over by Afridi, just two runs off it. His second also costs him an equivalent number.
Guptill, who had slowed down after an aggressive start, has completed a well-deserved half-century.
A single off Hafeez, in the attack replacing Razzzaq, helps him register his 11th ODI fifty.
Shoaib Akhtar is bowling well.
Take aside the fact that he has been unlucky as regards wickets, but he has maintained a tight line.
So has Umar Gul (5-1-8-1).
Shahid Afridi, the most successful bowler in the tournament thus far with 14 wickets, is yet to bowl though.
Taylor was twice lucky in Shoaib's last over.
Will he make the most of the fortunes?
It doesn't seem so. Umar Gul appeals for a caught behind. The umpire isn't interested and Taylor survives. Yet again.
Image: Brendon McCullum (L) is bowled by Shoaib Akhtar. (Getty Images)
Just when things had started looking for New Zealand, Umar Gul has struck.
The fast bowler trapped How leg before to end the second wicket partnership that had yielded the Black Caps 47 runs.
In come Ross Taylor. He has not been in great form of late.
And sensing the possibility of a wicket, Afridi has brought on Shoaib to replace Abdul Razzaq.
And Shoaib is unlucky here. He induced an edge of Taylor's blade but it flies between the keeper and the slip to the fence.
Taylor's next shot, a boundary towards third man, is a much confident shot.
And lo behold, Akmal has dropped Taylor here.
Umar Gul has been introduced into the attack in the 11th over.
He replaces Shoaib, who had an eventful first spell (5-0-31-1).
And he starts off on an impressive note, beating the outside edge of Jamie How's blade on more occasion than one.
It's a maiden over first up from him.
Afridi introduced a second successive bowling change when he replaced Rehman with Abdur Razzaq in the 12th over.
And How welcomes him with a boundary to extra cover. Three balls later, How lofts over the bowler's end to bring up the New Zealand half century.
Another no ball from Shoaib.
Another free hit.
And Guptill takes advantage of the same to dispatch it to the midwicket fence. Not a good shot, but four runs nonetheless.
The trumpets, meanwhile, have taken over the ground.
The crowd here isn't partial about any particular team, it seems.
They are here to cheer for cricket.
Pallekele is the seventh one-day venue for Sri Lanka and only the third to host a World Cup game as its opening fixture.
Meanwhile, New Zealand continue to recover from the early shock.
Guptill has smashed Shoaib over extra cover for yet another boundary.
He looks to be in good touch.
The early dismissal put New Zealand on the back foot.
And Shahid Afridi made an interesting choice for the second over, asking Abdur Rehman to bowl.
Martin Guptill though eased the pressure with a splendid boundary through mid-off.
Shoaib Akhtar starts with two no-balls. The umpire fails to spot the first and a free hit is awarded for the second.
And Brendon McCullum (6) smashes it to the midwicket for a maximum.
Shoaib has his revenge in the next ball, cleaning up McCullum.
It is not a packed house here at Pallekele. But the people present are an enthusiastic lot.
Daniel Vettori (Captain), Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Ros Taylor, James Franklin, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee.
Shahid Afridi (Captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar.
Daniel Vettori was very satisfied with the toss.
"Looks like a dry wicket," he said, adding, "The grass means the bounce should be consistent, and it should be a decent batting wicket.
"Unfortunately, Jesse Ryder is out, and Jacob Oram is in."
His Pakistan counterpart, Shahid Afridi, wasn't too disheartened with the toss loss.
"Shoaib and Rehman are back for Wahab and Ajmal," he said, as regards his team composition.
Daniel Vettori won the toss and elected to bat first in the World Cup Group A encounter in Kandy on Tuesday.
Pakistan has just lost one of their last four games while New Zealand has been very inconsistent as far as results are concerned.
It is the first ever match in the picturesque Pallekele International stadium, named after the legend from Kandy, Muttiah Muralitharan.