AUCKLAND. — Zimbabwe hope their Cricket World Cup campaign and the international career of Brendan Taylor end on a happy note in their last Pool B match against India in Auckland today. The Africans started with an impressive performance against South Africa in Hamilton, losing by 62 runs before beating the United Arab Emirates.
But they then collided with record-shattering Chris Gayle in the West Indies match and a revived Pakistan as their hopes of reaching the last eight dwindled.
Their five-run defeat against Ireland in Hobart ended any outside chance for them to sneak into the next stage.
Taylor, who deputised as skipper for injured Elton Chigumbura, hit a fighting hundred which was in vain as a controversial catch by John Mooney to dismiss Sean Williams sealed their fate.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Taylor will be playing his last international match after signing a three-year deal with Nottinghamshire.
Taylor could still lead the team today in case Chigumbura fails to recover in time from a tear to the quadriceps muscle in his left leg.
Taylor believes his team have the capacity to beat defending champions India who have already reached the quarter-finals.
“Well, it’s another opportunity to try and get all three departments right, and if we do that, there’s no reason why we can’t beat India,” said Taylor.
“We’ve beaten them before back home, so we have that belief we can do it.
“Yes, they’re one of the best teams in the world playing on a pretty small ground in Auckland, but it’s a great opportunity for us to be in the World Cup and showcase our talent and skills against the best in the world.
“There’s a lot to play for, a lot of pride at stake. We want to try to finish on a high note.”
But it’s easier said than done as the defending champions have won all their five matches to march into the quarter-finals as the top team in Pool B.
Despite the match bearing no significance for India, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni promises the same intensity.
“We’re highly motivated, in this game also. If it comes to the points, we have qualified for the next stage, but still, it was a challenge in itself,” said Dhoni after a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Ireland.
“The next game will be the last before we get into the knockout stages, so we’ll keep improving every game. That’s our motive so that we can maintain the forward shift that we have got.”
Asked if India could try its bench strength before the knock-out stage, Dhoni replied: “We will have to take input from the physio because the situation demands some rest (for players) but if there are no injury concerns then we want to put the best eleven on the ground.”
India are likely to face Asian neighbours Bangladesh in the quarter-finals in Melbourne on March 19. — AFP.