India 288 for 4 (Raina 110, Dhoni 85) beat Zimbabwe 287 (Taylor 138, Williams 50, Yadav 3-43, Mohit 3-48, Shami 3-48) by 6 wickets
Kevin Mapasure in Auckland, New Zealand
Brendan Taylor showcased the batting prowess that Zimbabwe national cricket team will miss as he made his farewell with a flourishing 138 against defending champions India at Eden Park yesterday.
Taylor goes into early international retirement to concentrate on a career with Nottinghamshire.
It would have been a fantastic finish had Zimbabwe won the match, but he bowed out at the biggest stage in a manner befitting the champion player he is.
India won the Group B match by six wickets to continue with their title defense campaign while Zimbabwe heads home.
After three successive matches of bareness, Zimbabwe were hoping to finally bear fruit in the garden of Eden Park, but it ended the same way it has been for most of their matches.
The batsmen and Taylor in particular had planted the seeds as Zimbabwe posted 287, but the bowling failed in its defense.
MS Dhoni (85 not out) and Suresh Raina (110) guided India home with eight balls to spare, but Tinashe Panyangara had caused some jitters with early wickets of openers Rohit Sharma (16) and Shikar Dhawan (4).
Raina was spilled before he reached his half century and he made good use of the second life to reach a century off the bowling of Sikandar Raza who had removed Virat Kohli (38).
Despite India’s win this was Taylor’s day.
Twice he had the sellout crowd on their feet, first when he reached his final international 100 and when he was finally defeated by Mohit Sharma caught Shikar Dhawan.
But on countless times he had the predominantly Indian crowd awe struck with some delicious cricket shots that should be decorating the big stage of international cricket and not confined to the obscurity of counties.
His innings was so entertaining the stadium often resembled a theatre, applause after applause as he clobbered 15 fours and five mighty maximums in his 110 ball knock.
Sean Williams has given the best hope yet that there is life after Taylor hitting a brisk half century of his own, following up on another against Ireland.
But there were bits and pieces from the others and the openers failed to provide a solid platform with Hamilton Msakadza and Chamu Chibhabha both falling cheaply and it had to take another good partnership (93) between Taylor and Williams to make some repair work.
Late in the innings Sikandar Raza batting lower down the order contributed 28 runs in his short spell as he tried to keep the tempo high.
At this World Cup the magic number has been 300 and Zimbabwe could have scored as much with better execution.
However, it is end of the road and yesterday’s match is one where they might have won more admiration than condemnation as they pushed a full strength Indian side all the way.
With the good cricket they played yesterday, the statistics make of cruel reading. Five matches one win four defeats.