Cricket

A 'Taylor-made' finish that was not to be

Brendan Taylor quit the international stage after 11 years with a flamboyant 138 in a valedictory innings which almost spurred Zimbabwe to a shock win over India at the Cricket World Cup on Saturday.

Taylor, a loyal servant of his troubled country on the international scene for 11 years, scored 138 in his team's final cricket World Cup group match against defending champions India at Eden Park.

But once again Zimbabwe fell short of setting a really challenging target and India completed an ultimately comfortable six-wicket victory.

Taylor, 29, will now take up a three-year contract with Nottinghamshire in the English county championship and has said on Twitter that he has decided to retire from Zimbabwe cricket.

"It was pretty tricky," he told a news conference.

"They bowled really well and then it just sort of fell into place a little bit. I said to myself as I went out today just to enjoy the moment and not put myself under too much pressure. That just helped a little bit."

Taylor said he had been overwhelmed by the applause from a predominantly Indian crowd and the congratulations he had received from the India team after his dismissal.

He said Saturday's century, his second in a row in the tournament, had probably been his best one-day innings.

"But if you are not going to win then it doesn't feel so sweet," he said. "It was definitely up there but unfortunately it was in another losing cause.

"It's definitely a sense of sadness, a sense of disappointment. Sad in a way that I'm leaving my team mates, leaving my home country for a number of years.

"I guess life goes on and you are posed with different challenges and choices. But it's a positive one I've taken and I'm looking forward to it."

A spoilt farewell

India won by six wickets to preserve its unbeaten record in Pool B but needed exceptional innings of 110 from Suresh Raina and 85 from M.S.Dhoni in an unbroken 196-run partnership to sneak home with eight balls remaining. The pair came together with India struggling on 92-4.

Taylor had silenced the throbbing drums and whistles of 30,000 Indian fans for more than two-and-a-half hours as he compiled his second consecutive century of this World Cup, the eighth and last of his distinguished international career.

Ultimately, those fans saw an India victory but they had many anxious moments before they were able to salute Raina’s fifth one-day international century and Dhoni’s 57th half century.

The pivotal moment may have been when Hamilton Masakadza dropped Raina when he was on 48 and India was 158-4 in the 35th over.

India’s run chase began badly when Tinashi Panyangara dismissed Rohit Sharma (16) and Shikhar Dhawan (4) in the same over to leave India 21-2. It struggled for runs against the nagging length of the Zimbabwe bowlers and lost Ajinkya Rahane, run out for 19, and Virat Kohli, bowled around his legs by Sikandar Raza for 38, as it staggered along to 98-4 in the 25th over.

Raina and Dhoni came together in the 23rd over and formed India’s largest partnership of the tournament to send it unbeaten into the quarterfinals. The shackles were loosened when Raina hit two sixes from the bowling of Sean Williams in the 30th over and, by the 35th over, India was getting within range of its target, needing 131 from the last 15 overs.

Raina and Dhoni took 39 from the five overs of the batting power play, leaving 91 runs needed from the last 10 overs. Finally, Taylor was left without the win that might have fully crowned his career.

Taylor became a star of the 2011 World Cup when he all but invented and certainly perfected the ramp shot to third man which is now a staple of one-day cricket. He employed that, as well as the reverse sweep, on Saturday but also played shots which were more conventional flowing cover drives and vigorous pulls as he hit 15 fours and five sixes in a sustained assault on India’s bowlers.

Taylor provided the substance of Zimbabwe’s innings in partnerships of 93 for the fourth wicket with Sean Williams (50) and 109 for the fifth with Craig Ervine (27) which lifted his team from 13-2 when he came to the crease in the fifth over to 235-5 when he left in the 42nd.

But Taylor was the driving force behind the innings from then on, providing 80 runs in his century stand with Ervine. That partnership marked the irresistible acceleration Taylor applied through the latter part of the innings — the pair put on their first 50 in 40 minutes from 54 balls, and their second 50 from 20 deliveries.

It was in that period, when he was at his most forceful and most creative, that Taylor completed his century from the 99th ball he had faced by ramping a short ball from Mohammed Shami over the short third-man boundary for six.

Taylor and Ervine added 49 in the five overs of the batting power play and Taylor’s innings reached its peak when he took 24 runs three fours and two sixes from the last five balls of the 41st over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.

The innings faltered when Taylor had gone and the last six wickets fell cheaply but Taylor’s influence over Zimbabwe’s performance was enormous, just as it has been for the past 11 years.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 12:40:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/a-taylormade-finish-was-not-to-be/article6993667.ece

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