NEW DELHI: Defending champions India continued their dream run and ended league campaign with 6 wickets victory over Zimbabwe in ICC World Cup Pool B match on Saturday.
Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni stitched an unbeaten 196-run partnership to help India register sixth victory on the trot.
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Dhoni smashed a six to take India to victory target of 288 in 48.4 overs. This is India’s highest successful chase in World Cup history.
India finished the group on top with 12 points and will take on Bangladesh in quarterfinals on March 19 at Melbourne.
With this victory, Dhoni also surpassed West Indies legend Clive Lloyd’s nine consecutive World Cup wins as captain. Now the ‘Captain Cool’ is behind Ricky Ponting’s 24 wins.
India got off to a bad start as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were sent back to pavilion by Tinashe Panyangara in 7th over.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane played cautiously in the middle overs and tried to consolidate India’s chase by adding fifty-run stand for the third wicket.
India were again in spot of bother after losing Rahane and Kohli in quick succession but Dhoni and Raina hold the fort and ensure India to keep their winning run intact.
Earlier, Brendan Taylor played the innings of his life in his final ODI for Zimbabwe as his 138 helped the team manage 287 all out in 48.5 overs.
The total was highest by any country against India in the current edition surpassing Ireland’s 259 in the previous game.
Taking the Indian bowlers by the sword after being put into bat, Taylor smashed the white ball around the small Eden Park ground, cracking 15 boundaries and five sixes in his 110-ball stay.
Having scored his first 50 off 64 deliveries, Taylor scored his next 88 runs in only 46 balls as the three-figure mark was reached in 99 deliveries.
It was his eighth ODI century and highest by any Zimbabwean and also the first against India in this edition of the mega event.
He got a standing ovation from the Indian supporters as the likes of Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan congratulated the 29-year-old, who is migrating permanently to England after this match due to financial constraints.
This was also one of the matches where Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (1/75 in 10 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/71 in 10 overs) bore the brunt of the mayhem created by Taylor.
The pace trio held their own once again, as young Mohit Sharma (3/48 in 10 overs), Mohammed Shami (3/48 in 9 overs) and Umesh Yadav (3/43 in 9.5 overs) did well as the final five wickets went for 47 runs after Zimbabwe were 241 for five at one stage.
Taylor was well-supported by Sean Williams (50) as they added 93 for the fourth wicket while another 109 for the fifth wicket was added in company of Craig Ervine (27) after Zimbabwe were reduced to 33 for three in 11 overs.
At the start Hamilton Masakadza (2), Chamu Chibhabha (7) and Solomon Mire (9) were sent back by the three seamers as Zimbabwe were reduced to 33 for three in 11 overs.
It was time when Taylor was joined by Sean Williams as the two initiated a recovery process.
Stand-in captain Taylor showed positive intent after a cautious start while Williams held anchor at one end.
The first boundary came in the 17th delivery he faced as it was hit over long-off for a boundary.
Among all the batsmen who have faced the duo of Ashwin-Jadeja in the tournament, the Taylor-Williams combination will stand for the manner in which they handled the Indian spin twins.
Taylor took a liking for Jadeja as he swept him on a number of occasions and the moment he dropped short gave him the charge.
The right-hander was also quick to pick Ashwin’s ‘doosras’ as he reverse swept him for two boundaries in one over.
As Taylor gave the charge, even Williams grew in confidence as he hit three sixes in the region between mid-wicket and deep mid-wicket off Ashwin.
The duo added 93 runs for the fourth wicket in 17.3 overs. Williams completed a well-deserved 50 off 55 balls before offering a low return catch to Ashwin. Williams had three sixes and three fours in his 57-ball knock.
But once Williams departed, Taylor upped the ante further as it started raining sixes one after another.
In fact all the sixes that Taylor hit were after his half-century mark as the length balls and the short of length balls ended up in the stands.