Taylor Century Guides Zimbabwe Past Sri Lanka
Zimbabwe 240-2 (Taylor 119no, Chibhabha 58) beat
Sri Lanka 236 (Dilshan 78, Tharanga 69) by eight wickets
One-Day International Tri-Series, Harare
Brendan Taylor scored an excellent unbeaten century to guide Zimbabwe to an eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final One-Day International tri-series group game in Harare.
Taylor finished the game unbeaten on a career-best 119 with Zimbabwe confidently chasing down their target of 237 with 13 balls to spare.
He followed up two half-centuries in the series with just his second ODI century and was an obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award after also taking three catches when Sri Lanka batted.
His beautifully-paced innings included nine fours and one exquisitely-timed straight six during the final throes of the game.
After Hamilton Masakadza gloved Thilan Thushara to wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal for three, Taylor added 134 for the second wicket with Justice Chibhaba, back in the side in the absence through injury of Greg Lamb.
He made the most of his opportunity by stroking 58 in 81 balls with four fours and a six and when he was dismissed, trapped in front by Tillakaratne Dilshan, the quick running and lively batting of Tatenda Taibu ensured that Zimbabwe remained on top of the game.
He scurried his way to 42 not out in 55 balls also hitting one six, his maximum sailing over the deep midwicket boundary before leaving it to Taylor to complete the game in fine fashion, with a four driven over cover.
Sri Lanka had earlier raced to 122 without loss before Zimbabwe bowled their way back into contention by dismissing them for 236.
The same two teams will compete in Wednesday's final after India's elimination and Sri Lankan openers Dilshan (78) and Upul Tharanga (69) tore into Zimbabwe's opening pace attack as Elton Chigumbura (0-32) and Chibhaba (0-40) conceded 72 runs in eight overs.
Dilshan hit nine fours and two sixes and Tharanga hit five fours before Zimbabwe's spinners brought them back into the game. Former captain Prosper Utseya dismissed Dilshan and Chandimal (6) in quick succession and thereafter no Sri Lanka batsman could pass 15.
A combination of tight bowling, athletic fielding, poor running and questionable shot selection saw Sri Lanka throw away a position of great strength and leave the match in the balance.
Taylor typified Zimbabwe's performance in the field by taking three excellent catches in the deep, Charles Coventry took a fine sliding take to end Tharanga's innings and Masakadza, bowling for the first time in an ODI this year, celebrated his recent marriage with a wicket and after completing a caught and bowled to dismiss Chamara Kapugedera for 12, he provided a slightly comic moment when he lifted up his shirt to reveal the words 'just married' written on his undershirt.
There were plenty more laughs and celebrations to come for Zimbabwe as leg-spinner Graeme Cremer and pacer Christopher Mpofu joined Utseya in taking two wickets while left-arm spinner Ray Price was the other man to take a wicket.
Zimbabwe's measured run chase then ensured that they finished at the top of the group table and carry excellent form into Wednesday's final.
© Cricket World 2010
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