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13 March 201515:01

India v Zimbabwe Preview, Match 39, Auckland

Dhoni’s men are firing on all counts and could sour Brendan Taylor’s Zimbabwe farewell

India v Zimbabwe Preview, Match 39, Auckland - Cricket News

India, undefeated and riding high in the tournament, is the favourite to make it six out of six when it takes on Zimbabwe.

Two teams with contrasting fortunes will have their final fling of the group stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday (March 13).

India, undefeated and riding high in the tournament, is the favourite to make it six out of six when it takes on Zimbabwe. For Zimbabwe, the tournament has been something of a damp squib, with only a solitary win against the United Arab Emirates from five outings to show for its efforts.

With the points table stacked as it is, the match has no relevance to the knockouts. India will finish on top of Pool B irrespective of the result, while this is Zimbabwe’s last game of the tournament.

However, the team will be hoping to make the final international appearance of one of its best players a memorable one. Brendan Taylor, who has accepted a three-year deal with Nottinghamshire as a Kolpak player, will have one last chance in Zimbabwe colours, and a spirited showing would go a long way.

Taylor, who has played 23 Tests and 166 One-Day Internationals, managed 11 centuries in all, said: “It's been fairly enjoyable, the 11 years that I've been extremely grateful for. Every player's dream is to represent their country, and I've been lucky enough to do that.

“We've had our challenges as young players coming into the side. We've had some tough losses, but we've slowly evolved and managed to sneak a few great ones in for us. It's been thoroughly enjoyable. But you know, a very proud moment for me. Sad for me that it'll be ending, but I'm very proud to be a Zimbabwean, I'm very proud to represent my country on a great stage tomorrow to finish up and hopefully end on a high note.”

India, however, has been anything but sentimental this World Cup. While the team will wish Taylor well, no quarter will be given simply because this is his last game.

India has been clinical and ruthless in the tournament, brushing aside Pakistan and an in-form South Africa. The most impressive fact of its dominance has been the manner in which the bowling attack has worked together. Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav have married pace with direction, and Mohit Sharma has been spot on when bowling first change. R Ashwin has made the most of the pressure built by his mates, creatively attacking batsmen with skill and patience.

But, while the talk has centred around the bowling, it is not as though the batting has done badly. Almost every player in the top order has performed, in one game or another, and Shikhar Dhawan, with two centuries has epitomised India’s turnaround in fortunes.

The prosperity of the bowling and batting departments has been backed up by some clinical fielding, with energy levels being maintained constantly through the tournament. The catching has been safe, the infielding sharp and the outfielding reliable, allowing bowlers to be constantly on the hunt for wickets, even when opposition batsmen put together a bit of a partnership.

The challenge for India, of course, is not to take things lightly against Zimbabwe. In the normal course, this might have been something of a risk, but the manner in which matches have been spread out in this tournament has ensured that the players are constantly hungry, and looking to play cricket. Practice sessions have been lively and professional, every member of the 15 making the most of any opportunity to get out there and stretch his muscles.

Teams (likely):
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav

Zimbabwe (likely):
Chamu Chibhabha, Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (capt, wk), Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Solomon Mire, Regis Chakabva, Tinashe Panyangara, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tendai Chatara

You can follow the build up to the game and the live scoring and match highlights for India v Zimbabwe here in the ICC Match Centre.