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Jumbled batting order backfires on Black Caps

By Chris Matthews

Published: 1:29PM Monday September 24, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Black Caps captain Ross Taylor has defended his unconventional batting order in the loss to Pakistan at the Tweny20 World Cup overnight.

Chasing a challenging total of 178 to win their Pool D clash at Pallekele, New Zealand oddly chose to open with Rob Nicol and Kane Williamson.

While the absence of Martin Guptil, who was a late withdrawal with a hamstring twinge, forced the batting reshuffle, Pakistan would have been hardly shaking in their boots when Nicol and Williamson walked out to greet them.

Even odder was the promotion of Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram to second and third drop respectively, while Taylor himself came to the crease at number six, when New Zealand faced the near impossible task of hitting 60 runs off 29 balls.

"We wanted a right-hand, left-hand combination," Taylor said of the changed batting order. "We talked about Kane opening the batting before this game.

"It was no surprise to us. I don't think we lost it there.

"We dropped a few catches and leaked too many runs in the first 10 overs, but the way we pegged it back was good. We could've been staring at something closer to 200."

Brendon McCullum (32 off 31 balls) batted at first drop and it was hard to argue with that rationale, given he hit the highest Twenty20 score (123) in history during the Black Caps' opening win over Bangladesh on Friday.

Still his firepower could have been useful in the first six overs, when the field restrictions were at their most generous.

"It's about weighing up the best way to score runs on different surfaces," Taylor said in his defence. "It's not just about bashing fours and sixes - it's also about minimising dot balls."

And that is something that New Zealand failed to do against a varied bowling attack, where the Pakistani slow bowlers were king.

Saeed Ajmal (4/30) and Shahid Afridi (1/30) stifled New Zealand's momentum at crucial times, and were ultimately the difference between the two sides.

"They're world-class spin bowlers," Taylor said of the Pakistan duo. "It was a totally different wicket.

"It didn't quite skid on like it did the other day. It spun a lot more, was a lot drier.

"They put the ball in the right areas and asked a lot of questions. Any time you're chasing more than 10 runs an over for a period of eight-nine overs, it's going to be a tough ask."

New Zealand finish justed 13 runs off the required total and as a result, have qualified for the Super Eight, where their first opponent will be hosts Sri Lanka on Thursday (10pm NZT).