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All star of the match

Terrific Taylor trumps Sri Lanka

Brendan Taylor scored his personal best  •  AFP

Brendan Taylor scored his personal best  •  AFP

After their spinners had once again done their job, restricting Sri Lanka from 116 for 0 in 20 overs to 236, Brendan Taylor was the rock around which the chase was built. He took three catches before scoring his first century of the series, the third time he crossed fifty.
After Hamilton Masakadza's first failure in the tournament, Taylor got a good helping hand from Chamu Chibhabha, who put behind an ordinary show with the ball and a slow, edgy start. With not much swing available, Thilan Thushara and Dilhara Fernando tried to test the openers with short deliveries. It worked to begin with: Masakadza gloved one down the leg side in the fifth over, and Zimbabwe had scored only 16 in the first six. However, chasing a modest total, they could afford to give the bowlers a few overs and wait for the loose deliveries.
Sure enough, the loose deliveries started arriving. Immediately after Chibhabha top-edged Thushara for four in the seventh over, five wides followed. In the next over, Fernando over-pitched, and was off-driven by Taylor. In the ninth over, Thushara over-pitched on the pads, and Chibhabha flicked him over fine leg for six.
With literally risk-free cricket, Zimbabwe had reached 42 in nine overs. With the introduction of Thissara Perera, though, Taylor started taking calculated risks, getting 24 runs in his first two overs. With 80 runs on the board after 15 overs, Zimbabwe could afford to consolidate a bit, and Taylor seemed intent on staying there till the end.
Even after Chibhabha's dismissal, Taylor made sure Zimbabwe stayed ahead of the rate, without taking undue risks. There was the odd late-cut past short third man, there was the odd long hop pulled over midwicket, and lots of ones and twos. That Taylor stayed there until the end, unlike his first two winning hands, was the icing on the cake.