Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  

ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007
Styris, Oram see off Eng

New Zealand drew first blood against England as they won the teams' World Cup Group C opener by six wickets here Friday.

Chasing 210 for victory, New Zealand finished on 210 for four with nine overs to spare after having recovered from 19 for three in five overs.

They were still in trouble at 72 for four before an unbeaten stand of 138 between all-rounders Scott Styris (87 not out) and Jacob Oram (63 not out) saw them home.

The teams -- who beat each other twice during England's tri-series triumph in Australia completed last month -- are favourites to qualify from a group also featuring Kenya and Canada.

Assuming both Test sides do go through, New Zealand will carry forward two points into the second phase, Super Eight stage.

"It's not the ideal start but we will have to pick ourselves up in time to face Canada on Sunday," said England skipper Michael Vaughan.

"New Zealand played a good game. We got back into it but then lost a cluster of wickets in the middle," added the skipper in reference to a dramatic England collapse which saw them slump from 133-3 to 138-7.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming praised his team who will have a crucial two points to take through to the next round.

"It was a crucial game and both teams were battling for the points," said Fleming.

"Important players put their hands up at the right time -- Shane Bond and then Styris and Oram. It's a big win and we're on the board."

England, whose modest total of 209 was achieved only after they were rescued from the depths of 138 for seven by an unbroken partnership of 71 between wicketkeeper Paul Nixon (42 not out off 41 balls) and Liam Plunkett (29 not out), made a sensational start in the field.

James Anderson, doubtful for the match with a fractured finger, struck with the sixth ball when Lou Vincent fell for nought after edging to Nixon.

New batsman Ross Taylor then exited for a first ball duck, a nicked drive off Plunkett brilliantly caught one-handed by a diving Andrew Flintoff at first slip.

Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming at least managed seven before a miscued pull off Anderson was well-held by Ed Joyce, running round from square leg.

From 19 for three Styris, who'd earlier taken two for 25, counter-attacked alongside the experienced Craig McMillan.

Their stand was worth 53 when Monty Panesar came on and, with his second ball, the left-arm spinner had McMillan (27) lofting to Jamie Dalrymple in the covers.

Styris pressed on, completing a 70-ball fifty by sweeping off-spinner Dalrymple for his sixth four.

England's lack of runs now started to hurt and hopes of victory all but disappeared when Kevin Pietersen, at short cover, dropped a catch he should have held when Styris, on 61, checked a drive off Panesar.

Oram, who lofted Panesar for a straight six, got to his fifty in 68 balls with two fours in a well-paced display.

Earlier Pietersen, in his first full international since January after sustaining a rib injury in Australia, top scored for England with 60.

From 133 for three, England lost four wickets for five runs, three going down for one run in seven balls as key batsmen Paul Collingwood (31), Pietersen and Flintoff, out for a first ball nought, all fell in quick succession.

Fast bowler Shane Bond took two wickets in four balls as Pietersen tamely holed out to James Franklin at long-on before Flintoff chipped to Styris at short cover.

Medium-pacer Styris had started the slump when he removed Collingwood after an attempted guide to third man was well-held by Brendon McCullum -- one of four catches for the wicket-keeper -- to end a fourth-wicket stand of 81, the best of England's innings.

Fleming, on a pitch freshened by early morning rain, which delayed the start by 30 minutes, saw his decision to field first vindicated second ball when left-arm quick Franklin had Ed Joyce caught behind for nought.

England captain Michael Vaughan, battling a hamstring injury that saw him play just three one-dayers in Australia, looked in good touch. But on 26 he bottom-egded a pull off Franklin into his stumps.

England play Canada on Sunday while New Zealand face Kenya, seven-wicket winners over the North Americans, on Tuesday.

STERLING EFFORT: New Zealand batsmen Scott Styris (L) and Jacob Oram celebrate at the end of the match against England during their Group C World Cup match at the Beausejour ground in Gros Islet on Friday. PHOTO: AFP