Kiwis owe it to Styris and Oram

Matchwinning stand... Scott Styris and Jacob Oram walk back to the pavilion after steering New Zealand to a six-wicket victory.-AP

For New Zealand, the victory was some sort of a payback for being dumped by England from the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia recently, writes Richard Gibson.

England was left to rue a mid-innings collapse as its World Cup campaign began with a six-wicket defeat to New Zealand at Beausejour. A spell of four wickets in as many overs, for a gain of only five runs, left Michael Vaughan's side in tatters in the Group C contest and restricted it to 209 for seven.

England only got to that total thanks to some canny late-order batting by Paul Nixon and Liam Plunkett in an unbroken stand of 71. But unbeaten half-centuries from Man of the Match Scott Styris and Jacob Oram got the Black Caps home at a canter and claimed a potential two points for their Super Eight campaign. Teams carry points earned against fellow qualifiers into the next stage and England was keen to pick up from where it left off in Australia last month by stacking up a fifth straight victory.

"Full credit to New Zealand, who put us under a lot of pressure with the ball,'' said Vaughan. "Shane Bond bowled very well. We fought back into a position of decent strength with the Paul Collingwood-Kevin Pietersen partnership, but to lose four wickets in such a quick space of time was always going to make it difficult. "Liam and Paul Nixon battled and scratched and got us to a total of 209, and when we got the early wickets we were all thinking `This could be it'.''

Despite James Anderson and Plunkett each striking early as three New Zealand wickets fell in the opening five overs, England could not capitalise as Styris and Craig McMillan counter-attacked. McMillan's ambition resulted in his fall in the 16th over but the 138-run stand between Styris and Oram sealed the match for New Zealand with 54 deliveries unused.

Styris scored 87 and the fact that England had no batsman to put up that kind of score perhaps made the difference.

Pietersen, returning to international cricket having recovered from a broken rib, hit 60 before holing out to fast bowler Bond, moments before Andrew Flintoff succumbed first ball.

"He was obviously frustrated and disappointed because he fancied three figures and a big score in his first World Cup game,'' said Vaughan of Pietersen. "He was disappointed but he soon came on the balcony to encourage the other lads.

"We didn't have a player to score 80 or 100 and we know if we do that we can post a decent total. Only time will tell how big a setback this is."

Vaughan's counterpart Stephen Fleming was happy to take the recent score between the two countries to 3-2 in favour of New Zealand. The victory was some sort of a payback for being dumped from the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia recently. "It was a nervy win and it's a great relief to get the points in the bank,'' said Fleming. "We knew this first game could have a massive bearing on the next stage."

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THE SCORES

Group C: England v New Zealand. New Zealand won by six wickets. England: E. Joyce c McCullum b Franklin 0; M. Vaughan b Franklin 26; I. Bell c McCullum b Oram 5; K. Pietersen c Franklin b Bond 60; P. Collingwood c McCullum b Styris 31; A. Flintoff c Styris b Bond 0; J. Dalrymple c McCullum b Styris 3; P. Nixon (not out) 42; L. Plunkett (not out) 29; Extras (lb-2, w-4, nb-7) 13. Total (for seven wkts in 50 overs) 209. Fall of wkts: 1-1, 2-30, 3-52,4-133, 5-133, 6-134, 7-138. New Zealand bowling: Franklin 9-0-43-2; Bond 10-1-19-2; Oram 6-0-25-1; Patel 8-0-42-0; Vettori 10-0-53-0; Styris 7-0-25-2. New Zealand: L. Vincent c Nixon b Anderson 0; S. Fleming c Joyce b Anderson 7; R. Taylor c Flintoff b Plunkett 0; S. Styris (not out) 87; C. McMillan c Dalrymple b Panesar 27; J. Oram (not out) 63; Extras(b-2, lb-11, w-11, nb-2) 26. Total (for four wkts in 41 overs) 210. Fall of wkts: 1-1, 2-3, 3-19, 4-72. England bowling: Anderson 8-0-39-2; Plunkett 7-0-43-1; Flintoff 8-1-17-0; Collingwood 3-0-20-0; Panesar 10-0-47-1; Dalrymple 4-0-29-0; Pietersen 1-0-2-0.