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All-round Taylor sets up big win

Brendan Taylor made a defiant half-century AFP

Three catches, one smart run-out, and a match-winning start with the bat, Brendan Taylor was all over, setting up their first win against India in eight years and also their second-highest successful chase. Along with Hamilton Masakadza, Taylor was brutal against the new ball. None of the medium-pacers looked like creating a chance, and he duly punished them, taking Zimbabwe to 88 in 13 overs.

The first over of the chase was indicative of the effort of both sides. Ashok Dinda finished with one pitched up too far, and Taylor drove it wristily for four. It remained the case in the first 10 overs: whenever the Indian bowlers bowled too full or too short, they were hit. The in-between lengths induced respect, but never bothered the batsmen. Neither the pitch had the bounce, nor the bowlers the pace to trouble them with the bouncers. Umesh Yadav, the fastest of the three, and R Vinay Kumar were both pulled away for sixes.

If Masakadza unleashed raw power, Taylor brought a sense of calm with the way he went about scoring. Two balls after Dinda failed to collect cleanly and missed his run-out in the eight over, Masakadza made room and smashed him through extra cover. That was the first time Zimbabwe's run-rate crossed six, batting would only look easier in the upcoming few overs. Vinay got the worst treatment when Taylor hit the 10th over for two sixes and a four: a pull, a golf swing over long-on, and a square-cut.

After Masakadza's dismissal, Taylor might have slowed down, but he ensured there was no collapse there and that the bigger hitters lower down the order didn't get too tall an ask. When he got out, falling short of a deserved century, Zimbabwe needed 110 off 15.5 overs, which proved to be cakewalk against the inexperienced bowling line-up.