AUCKLAND – Zimbabwe had their bags already packed to return home having not qualified for the quarter-finals. The stand-in skipper Brendan Taylor had accepted the Kolpak deal to play for Nottinghamshire and was calling it quits from playing for his country Zimbabwe.
As far as last goodbyes go, it doesn’t come any sweeter than Taylor’s 138 at Eden Park against the reigning World Cup champions India.
Ahead of his last engagement in Zimbabwean colours, Taylor had said that even though he was sad that his international career was ending, he is very proud to be a Zimbabwean and would look to represent his country one last time and finish on a high note. Boy, was he right?
After Indian pacers had made early inroads, Taylor in the company of Sean Williams, and later with Craig Ervine, hammered the Indian spinners to set up a good total (287).
He didn’t hit his boundary till the 17th delivery he faced, when he quite nonchalantly dismissed Umesh Yadav over long off. It was Williams that first signalled the aggressive intent by launching Ashwin for two sixes, but Taylor quickly followed suit. By the 28th over, he had quietly notched a 50 off 64 deliveries.
Then he cut loose. In the 100-run partnership for the 50th wicket, Ervine only contributed 20 and Taylor smashed the Indian attack all around the park.
None of the bowlers were spared. Mohd Shami, the pick of the Indian bowlers on Saturday, was ramped over third man as Taylor reached his last and final one-day international century for Zimbabwe. In the process, he became the only Zimbabwean to have back-to-back hundreds in a World Cup.
More records would tumble before Taylor was done. In one Jadeja over, Taylor plundered 24 runs with sixes over long-on and long-off, and three slog swept boundaries.
He became the first Zimbabwean to score 400 runs in a World Cup and became the second highest run scorer in CWC 2015.
As Taylor departed for a well-made 138, he received standing ovation from the crowd and congratulations from the Indian players, and hugs from his teammates.