Hamilton, New Zealand: Brendan Taylor marked his last international appearance with an innings of 138 from 110 balls which lifted Zimbabwe to 287 as it batted first Saturday in a Cricket World Cup Pool B match against defending champion India.
Taylor's 167th one-day international was also his last for Zimbabwe, which hasn't qualified for the quarterfinals, as he is leaving after the World Cup to take up a three-year contract with Nottinghamshire in the England county championship.
He left the international stage on a thrilling personal high, reaching his eighth ODI century from 99 balls, and putting Zimbabwe in a position to challenge India's unbeaten record in the group.
Taylor built partnerships of 93 for the fourth wicket with Sean Williams (50) and 109 from 80 balls for the fifth with Craig Ervine.
His innings included 15 boundaries and five sixes and was full of the improvisational strokeplay that is a hallmark of his batsmanship and made him a star of the 2011 World Cup.
He used the reverse sweep against the Indian spinners and occasionally his trademark ramp shot to access the short boundaries behind the wicket, but he also played conventional drives and pulls with great timing and immense power.
It was with a ramp shot from the bowling of Mohammad Shami, which flew over third man for six in the 39th over, that Taylor reached his century and became the first Zimbabwe batsman to post back-to-back centuries at a World Cup.
His went on to reshape the Zimbabwe innings and to add lustre to his final fling on the world stage.
Taylor went to the wicket when Zimbabwe was 13-2 in the fifth over and laboring against the accurate pace bowling of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. He took time to establish himself and saw his team dip further into trouble when Solomon Mire was out for 9 and it was 33-3 in the 11th over.
But he blossomed in partnership with Williams, who was the more aggressive of the two at the outset. Taylor began his inning six overs before Williams but reached his half century, from 64 balls, one ball before his partner.
Taylor's 50, achieved in 88 minutes, included six fours while Williams hurried to a half century in 62 minutes with three fours and three sixes — the first of the Zimbabwe innings.
The partnership dissolved before Williams could add to his score. He had taken the long handle to the spin bowling of Ravi Ashwin, helping himself to 35 runs from the bowler's first three overs, but Ashwin had his revenge when he took a low return catch to dimiss Williams at 126-4 in the 29th over.
Taylor then found, in Ervine (27), another partner willing to take the attack to the Indian bowlers. The pair produced a 50 partnership from 54 balls, then added a further 50 from 20 balls to reach their century stand.
When he was finally out, caught by Shikhar Dhawan from the bowling of Mohit Sharma in the 42nd over, his team was 235-5 and he was the first Zimbabwe batsman to surpass 400 runs at a World Cup. Taylor was immediately embraced by India captain M.S. Dhoni, Indian players ran to shake his hand and he left Eden Park to an echoing ovation from 25,000 mostly Indian fans.
Shami took 3-43, Mohit and Yadav both 3-48 while Ashwin conceded 75 from 10 overs, his most expensive return in one-day internationals.