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Eagles Edge Kenya in 1st T20

Mashonaland Eagles handed the Kenya national team a three-wicket defeat in the first Twenty20 match of their tour of Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

The visitors won the toss and chose to bat first setting a target of 124 runs for the loss of six wickets but the home team chased down the target with two balls remaining.

Zimbabwe Cricket domestic franchises MidWest Rhinos and the Mashonaland Eagles are hosting the Kenyan national team as part of their preparations for the Stanbic Bank 20 series starting on the 24th of November.
The visitors team captain Collins Obuya top scored in the match with an inspiring 44 from 32 balls and Duncan Allad who opened the batting chipped in with a handy 15 runs.

Although the Mash Eagles used seven bowlers and each almost got a wicket, veteran left-arm spinner Ray Price played a big role to stop massive run scoring with an attacking economic bowling.
Price finished without a wicket but only conceded 18 from his allotted four overs. Nehemiah Odhiambo finished off the innings with a quick cameo of 30 from 38 balls.

Mash Eagles were convinced that the total was low enough to take on the Kenyans without too much diligence. They lost early wickets with the captain Stuart Matsikenyeri among the low scorers, caught for just five runs.

Elton Chigumbura (24) played his natural game and upped the run rate with his partner Foster Mutizwa (34), a partnership which drove the Eagles a step closer to the target, though not within safety.
The Eagles needed 10 runs from the last over and they capitalised on some sloppy Kenyan fielding and managed to push through a victory with two balls to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Kenya 124/6 (20 overs; Obuya 44, Zhuwao 1/2), Eagles 126/7 (19.3 overs; Mutizwa 34*, Varaiya 2/22). Mashonaland Eagles win by 3 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Sri Lanka Women Ease to Win Over Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's women were on the receiving end of another drubbing in Bangladesh this morning, this time at the hands of Sri Lanka. Put in to bat after Sri Lanka won the toss, Zimbabwe managed to post just 92 in a very slow 41-over knock, a target that Sri Lanka chased down in just just 11 overs. Full scorecard below the cut. The side are back in action again tomorrow, with a bottom-of-the-group clash against USA.
Zimbabwe 62 (41.4 overs; Nyathi 18, Seneviratna 5/15), Sri Lanka 64/3 (10.5 overs; Mendis 35*, Saili 3/19). Sri Lanka win by 7 wickets.

Zimbabwe Women Lose World Cup Qualifier Opener

Zimbabwe's women were on the receiving end of a comprehensive defeat by the Dutch, in their first game of the Women's World Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh. Batting first, Zimbabwe posted 145, but this proved to be nowhere near enough ar the Dutch powered their way to the target in less than 26 overs and for the loss of 4 wickets (2 of them run-outs). That leaves Zimbabwe bottom of Group A ahead of their next match, against Sri Lanka on the 17th (Thursday). Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 145 (50 overs; Nyathi 29, Lanser 2/17), Netherlands 148/4 (25.3 overs; Veringmeier 56, Mazvishaya 1/22). Netherlands win by 6 wickets.

New Zealand Edge Zimbabwe in Test Thriller

Few would have expected this match to end as closely as it did, but right down to the final session on Day Five all three possible results were very much in play. Going back to day one, though, it seems that the Queen's pitch was on course to produce a tame display, as New Zealand, batting first after winning the toss, helped themselves to what the batting-friendly pitch offered to ease to 275/3 at the close, with Martin Guptill (109) providing the backbone of the innings. Day One to the Kiwis.

Day Two saw the first of several swings in fortune, though, as Chris Mpofu worked out how to get some life from the pitch and, taking 4/92 in the innings, did the bulk of the work in bowling the visitors out for 426, a total probably 100 short of what they would have been hoping for. Ray Price took 2/118, while Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza and debutante Njabulo Ncube took one each. In reply, Zimbabwe reached 82/1 (Tino Mawoyo the man out), rounding off a day that Zim coach Alan Butcher called the side's best day of cricket since their Test return. Day Two to Zimbabwe.

Masakadza got Day Three off to a bad start for the hosts, falling without adding to the overnight score. Impressive contributions from Sibanda (93), Waller (72*) and Taylor (50)kept Zimbabwe in the chase, but a tendency to throw wickets away - and a tail that, like New Zealand's before them, didn't add much) saw Zimbabwe bowled out for 313, conceding a 113-run. Two quick wickets before the close of play, though, saw New Zealand end the day on 28/2 - not exactly the start they would have wanted. Day Three, honours even.

Day Four seemed to be reserved for when New Zealand would declare, with any lead over 300 generally expected to be good enough to deny Zimbabwe a chance of victory. Nightwatchman Patel departed early in the day, as expected, but Williamson (68) and Taylor (76) added 119 for the 4th wicket, putting New Zealand in the driving seat - briefly. A spate of quick wickets, as Kyle Jarvis took the first 5'fer since Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket, raised the prospect of the visitors being bowled out - but Ross Taylor called his side back on 252/8, setting Zimbabwe a target of 366 for victory. Some would suggest that with Chris "The Phantom" Martin being the man who did not bat, hanging around any longer wouldn't have made much difference anyway. With four sessions to reach a tempting total, Zimbabwe started off fairly cautiously, but lost Sibanda (13) early and Masakadza (19) to a silly shot on the final ball of the day. Still, despite the late losses, Zimbabwe edged the day.

The final day was straightforward on paper: New Zealand needed 8 wickets to win, Zimbabwe needed 305 runs more, and after losing only 1 wicket in the morning session (Mawoyo, for 52), whispers of "could they?" were beginning to become louder. In the afternoon session, Taylor and Taibu combined to frustrate the Kiwis further, adding another 94 runs for no loss and leaving Zimbabwe at tea requiring 101 runs for victory, with 7 wickets in hand. The departure of Taylor (117) in the first over after tea - some would say well-deserved, after a disputed appeal for a catch in shortly before tea saw Taylor saved by poor-quality replays - sparked the beginning of a Zimbabwean collapse, as the side was unable to form another partnership to see the innings through. From 265/4 at Taylor's departure, they collapsed to 331 all out, 34 short of their target. But to their credit, the side never gave up pushing for the win when many other sides would have battened down the hatches and settled for a draw, a move that seems to have earned them quite a few new fans. They may have lost, but it wasn't for lack of trying - and New Zealand certainly were given a scare they won't forget in a while. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 426 (143.3 overs; Guptill 109, Mpofu 4/92) & 252/8d (71 overs; Taylor 76, Jarvis 5/64), Zimbabwe 313 (121.5 overs; Sibanda 93, Vettori 5/70) & 331 (108.1 overs; Taylor 117, Bracewell 5/85). New Zealand win by 34 runs.

Test Match Warm-Up Drawn

Chris Martin and Daniel Vettori took three wickets apiece to lead the New Zealanders to a sizeable first-innings lead in the drawn tour match against Zimbabwe A in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe A were dismissed for 241, 103 runs behind New Zealanders' first-innings score of 344 for 8.

Martin struck an early blow for his team, bowling Hamilton Masakadza in the ninth over with Zimbabwe A on 17 for 1. Graeme Aldridge got the other opener, Tino Mawoyo, in the next over before another run had been scored. There was some resistance from the middle order, though, as Regis Chakabva made 40 and Malcolm Waller 66.

Once Waller was dismissed, however, with Zimbabwe A 183 for 6, the tail folded quickly. Vettori finished with 3 for 35, while Martin took 3 for 31. Aldridge chipped in with 2 for 40 as well.

The New Zealanders sent Vettori to open with BJ Watling, to give him some batting practice ahead of the Test. Vettori scored 32 off 37 balls as New Zealanders made 49 for 0 before the game ended. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealanders 344/8 (90 overs; Williamson 86*, Utseya 3/75) & 49/0 (12 overs; Vettori 32*, Watling 16*), Zimbabwe A 241 (70.5 overs; Waller 66, Martin 3/31). Match drawn.
[Match report via ZC]

Brave Waller Leads Zimbabwe Victory

Malcolm Waller played the innings of his life which to led Zimbabwe to a one wicket victory with a ball to spare against New Zealand in the last match of the Castle ODI Challenge played at Queens Sports Club (QSC) on Tuesday. Although the victory concludes the series 2-1 in favour of the visitors, Brendan Taylor salvaged some pride from the team's performance.

Brendan Taylor was named Man of The Series after two back-to-back centuries and a half century with a total of 310 runs in the series. "It is an awesome feeling and a nice way to end the way we did. We will salvage a bit of pride from it and we will take a lot out of this. We have a little bit of momentum now. From start to finish, the guys were positive in their approach. The crowd always turns up, this one is for them and everyone who has shown up in the past," said the Zimbabwe skipper.

Black caps captain, Ross Taylor, powered his team to 328 runs with a well-deserved 119 runs from 126 balls after winning the toss and electing to bat on a typically flat QSC wicket. His knock which featured nine boundaries and three sixes, came just after Rob Nicol (14) and BJ Watling (0) were dismissed hastily in the innings. The pitch favoured the batsmen and the visitors made two land mark partnerships on it; the first being the 83-run partnership for the 4th wicket between big hitting Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor. Ryder was caught and balled by Malcolm Waller for 53 after facing 68 balls.

The second was the record fifth wicket partnership of 195 run between Taylor and Kane Williamson that took the team to such a massive total. The pair broke the New Zealand record of 148-runs for the fifth wicket set by RG Twose and CL Cairns against Australia in Cardiff in 1999. Williamson scored his second hundred in his ODI career, with an unbeaten 100 from just 94 balls. Njabulo Ncube was the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers with figures of three for 69 in 8.5 overs.

Zimbabwe required 6.6 runs an over to win, there was no other way of surpassing the huge total but to come out fighting -this time the men in red did so comprehensively. Openers Vusi Sibanda (0) departed in the first over. Fortunately and Zimbabwe was kept in the fight after the 100-run 2nd wicket partnership between Hamilton Masakadza (36) and in-form Brendan Taylor who chipped in with a quick-fire 75 from 65 balls. Mutizwa was also dismissed for a duck, but Tatenda Taibu's 53 from 39 balls instantly made amends for it; Taibu was caught in the 30th over with Zimbabwe still well under the required run rate.

Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller put up a 112-run stand for the sixth wicket which set Zimbabwe right on course needing just 34 runs from the last six overs. Chigumbura was very aggressive punching three sixes and three boundaries for his innings of 47 off 43 deliveries. Waller played a career best innings of an unbeaten 99 from just 108 balls, hitting 10 boundaries and a six in the process.

Though Zimbabwe had a long tail, the bowlers managed to give Waller the help he needed to finish the job. Natsai M'shangwe (7) Waller's bravery hit an indispensable boundary before Luke Woodcock had him bowled. Zimbabwe needed six runs from the last over. Jacob Oram assumed his usually role as the last man to bowl, his experience under these conditions has proved vital in this series. The crowd were on the edge of their seats when Ross Taylor dropped Waller from Oram's first delivery, Waller took ran for two and then a single of the next ball to tie the scores. Price was caught the very next ball and the batsmen crossed over while the ball was airborne allowing for Waller to complete the innings with a single.

"It feels good to come out winning in this game. Taking it right through the end was very good, especially having Elton [Chigumbura] striking it the way he did. I was a bit nervous at times, but Elton took the pressure off with the big hits," said Waller, who was named Man of The Match. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 328/5 (50 overs; Taylor 119, Ncube 3/69), Zimbabwe 329/9 (49.5 overs; Waller 99*, Oram 3/44). Zimbabwe win by 1 wicket.
[Match report via ZC]

Spirited Zimbabwe Lose 2nd ODI by 4 Wickets

New Zealand sealed the Castle ODI series with a four wicket victory against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Saturday – the win gives the visitors a 2-0 lead with one match to be played in Bulawayo on Tuesday.

Centuries by Brendan Taylor and Martin Guptill were the highlights of the match which was a very entertaining match for the few thousands at the stadium. The good news was that Zimbabwe turned in their best batting performance of the New Zealand tour and the bowlers generally did their job well. This could have been a close match if not for the home side's fielding performance.

Zimbabwe made two changes, as Chamunorwa Chibhabha and injured Kyle Jarvis were replaced by Malcolm Waller and Keegan Meth. New Zealand however made three changes from their last starting line-up, as all-rounders Jacob Oram, Graeme Aldridge and batsman BJ Watling came in for Jesse Ryder, off spinning all-rounder Nathan McCullum and fast bowler Kyle Mills. New Zealand won the toss and opted to field, and the pitch did indeed help the bowlers early, and throughout the match had good bounce and carry. The New Zealand decision did mean that they ran the risk of having their middle-order batsmen inactive once again.

Hamilton Masakadza opened the batting with Vusi Sibanda, in the absence of Chibhabha, and both batsmen struggled to start with against tight bowling on a helpful pitch. Masakadza survived a close lbw appeal before a run had appeared on the board, and both batsmen played and missed at times, but perhaps the bowlers pitched a little too short on this type of pitch. The openers did well to put on 41 in 11 overs, but then both got out rather tamely in quick succession, Sibanda making 19 and Masakadza 20.

Brendan Taylor again looked solid, but needed a reliable partner. Tatenda Taibu was dismissed briskly, while Forster Mutizwa tried hard but could not find the form of the previous match; four wickets were down for 83 in the 25th over. The 100 came up in the 28th over. Waller was the first man to fill the job, showing some fine strokes as he ran to 42 off 43 balls. The pair added 86 in 12 overs and really turned the innings around. The 200 came up in the 41st over, but the bowlers tied Elton Chigumbura down, restricting his stroke play and removing him for 14.

Meth briefly gave his captain some good support with a rapid 20, but once again Taylor was the backbone and the Zimbabwe innings would have been a disaster without him. He had to race against the clock to reach his century before the overs ran out, but a leg glance for four in the final over made him the first Zimbabwean to score successive centuries in ODIs, this one off 103 balls. He finished unbeaten with 107 made it into the record books, matching Grant Flowers record as the only people ever to score consecutive ODI hundreds in a series; this was his sixth in total. Raymond Price pulled the last delivery of the innings for four to take the final total to 259 for eight. The most successful bowlers were Andy McKay with four wickets and Jake Oram with three.

Martin Guptill immediately went on the attack as New Zealand began their chase. Chris Mpofu was erratic and expensive, but Meth, swinging the ball both ways although only medium-paced, caused some trouble and had two close lbw appeals rejected. However he struck in the end, having Rob Nicol, who had been rather starved of the bowling, well caught at the wicket down the leg side for 9. For the first time on tour the New Zealand opening pair failed to register a century partnership; this one was a mere 49, in the eighth over.

Meth might also have dismissed Brendon McCullum without scoring, but a sharp low chance to short midwicket went down. New Zealand kept up the attack and the 50 came up in the tenth over. For a while Zimbabwe did a fine job in keeping McCullum under restraint, but just before the 100 came up (in the 21st over) Chigumbura missed a hard return catch from him. A few minutes later Waller put down another chance from McCullum in the deep. McCullum’s 50 took him as many as 75 balls, unusually slow for him.

Meth returned with the shine gone from the new ball and immediately went for 16 in his first over – though this would not have been the case had Waller not dropped an identical chance, again from McCullum, to the one he spilled earlier. Guptill reached a well-earned century, but McCullum, who must have thought by now that any aerial shot was safe, was well caught by Sibanda at backward point, cutting, off Meth. He made 87, and Zimbabwe’s chances had all gone by now with the score 206 for two.

All this time Guptill had been plugging away responsibly at the other end, playing a sound game and aiming to be there at the finish. However, just after losing Ross Taylor for 11, he had a lapse of concentration and was bowled aiming a big hit at a ball from Waller and yorking himself for 105. He faced 121 balls, hit nine fours, and left with the score on 222 for four. Meth took the best figures of two wickets for 52 runs. Zimbabwe managed to compete with New Zealand in batting and bowling in this match, but the fielding was a big let down. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 259/8 (50 overs; Taylor 107*, McKay 4/53), New Zealand 261/6 (48.2 overs; Guptill 105, Meth 2/52). New Zealand win by 4 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Black Caps Win Castle Challenge Opener

The first ODI in the Castle Challenge between Zimbabwe and New Zealand resembled, for Zimbabwe, an unpleasant one. There was one superb partnership under high pressure between Brendan Taylor and Forster Mutizwa that rescued Zimbabwe from a truly disastrous start to their innings, only for their bowlers to follow it with another poor performance that allowed the opposition to make light of their target yet again.

Taylor’s outstanding fighting century was in vain, although at least it did prolong the match and saved Zimbabwe from what could have been a low total.

Zimbabwe welcomed back Vusi Sibanda and Tatenda Taibu to the team, while New Zealand were without Jake Oram due to illness. Zimbabwe’s decision to bat on winning the toss caused some comment, given the fact that the team batting second at Harare Sports Club has a much better victory record than those going in first. In good sunny weather on a shaven pitch, it would have been a fair enough decision, as long as the batsmen were mentally up to it.

The first two overs quickly showed that Zimbabwe’s top order was not mentally attuned to the task this time. They seemed incapable of handling very accurate bowling that included many deliveries outside the off stump, which the batsmen could choose either to attempt to score from or to leave. The preference was for leaving, which Chamu Chibhabha and Sibanda did to excess, with the result that the batting stagnated. At one stage the score was 7 for two wickets after six overs; when Taibu lashed a ball to extra cover with faulty footwork, to be brilliantly caught by Kyle Williamson, the score was 21 for four off 11 overs. Doug Bracewell had three of them very cheaply.

Zimbabwe managed to find two men who responded to the crisis magnificently in partnership. Brendan Taylor, perhaps aware of his need to put right his decision at the toss, was the first batsman to show initiative and the ability to handle the situation, and he began to get the score moving through some good shot selection and running. He found the ideal partner in Forster Mutizwa. He settled in to play with calmness and skill, and in a remarkably short time the whole aspect of the game had changed and the batsmen were in control.

As the runs flowed at about five an over, the first cracks began to show in the hitherto almost faultless tourists. Taylor was dropped twice in quick succession, a return catch to McCullum when on 48 and at long-off at 52, the ball bursting through the fielder’s hands and going for six. The only other fault of the pair was the lack of good running at times, partly because Mutizwa tended to be very cautious. The stand finally came to an end when Mutizwa, with 69 off 98 balls, reached for a wide half-volley from James Franklin and edged it to the keeper. The pair had put on 152 in 31 overs and, apart from the sheer number of runs, the way they saved a disastrous situation makes this one of finest partnerships in international cricket. Sadly, it was to be in vain.

Taylor soon lost Elton Chigumbura, but he went on the reach his fifth ODI century off 108 balls in the 47th over; this one competes with that against South Africa for his best. He then felt free to go for his strokes; Bracewell, seemingly invincible at the start of the innings, went for three sixes in four balls, 21 off this the penultimate over. He finished with an unbeaten 128 off 120 deliveries, with seven fours and five sixes. The total was 231 for six, an amazing turnaround from 21 for four. Bracewell still finished with the best figures of three for 55.

Rob Nicol this time opened the New Zealand innings with Martin Guptill, rather than Brendon McCullum, but the product was the same – free strokes and swift run-scoring. They took 51 off the first six overs, mainly from Kyle Jarvis, who kept straying to leg and paid the penalty; his six eventual overs cost 59 runs. In fact none of Zimbabwe’s seamers bowled particularly well, unable to put any pressure on the batsmen by consistent line and length, and the batsmen climbed in to capitalise. This was the third successive century opening partnership in three matches by New Zealand against Zimbabwe, and it proved to be the highest, ending only on 153 when Guptill failed to clear the long-on boundary and was caught there for 74 – off the occasional medium-pace of Masakadza, who thus took more wickets in the match than he scored runs.

Brendon McCullum was hardly the man Zimbabwe wanted to see coming in next, and once again he was in prime form. The next landmark was recorded by Nicol, who achieved the rare feat of a century in his first ODI. This follows his century for Mashonaland Eagles against Mid-West Rhinos in Kwekwe last Saturday. As victory approached the scoring rate dropped, as Nicol became very cautious on the verge of his century and McCullum tried to give him the strike and support to help him over the line. Finally he swung a ball from Mpofu over midwicket to reach the landmark, and from there New Zealand sped to victory with almost seven overs to spare. Nicol was unbeaten with 108, McCullum with 39. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 231/6 (50 overs; Taylor 128*, Bracewell 3/55), New Zealand 232/1 (43.3 overs; Nicol 108*, Masakadza 1/13). New Zealand in by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Zimbabwe Go Down Fighting in 2nd Twenty20

It was a batsman's day at Harare Sports Club for the second and final Twenty20 match and, when Zimbabwe looked likely to suffer another heavy defeat, Chamu Chibhabha led a thrilling assault on the bowling so that the home side could at least go down with all guns blazing and lose with honour. Chibhabha's 65 off 39 balls was, in its way, the best innings of the day, as it was made off better bowling than the New Zealand batsmen had to face, and under more pressure, well as Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill batted for their fifties. It was a pity this fine match - 15 sixes were hit, some truly massive - was played before a comparatively small crowd, due to its being played on a weekday and suffering from unreliable weather.

Zimbabwe played Chris Mpofu instead of Regis Chakabva, while Forster Mutizwa kept wicket. They won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat, understandably after the disappointment on Saturday. Unfortunately this did not help them as the knocks given to the bowling this time was, if anything, more intense this time.

It was the first of many sixes in the New Zealand innings, reduced to 18 overs due to a rain shower. McCullum and Guptill found the gaps, picked up balls off a good length for six, and left the Zimbabwe bowlers quite helpless even to contain them. McCullum took 31 balls for his fifty and Guptill 37. Zimbabwe finally got a wicket when McCullum was bowled attempting a scoop off Jarvis; his 64 came off only 37 balls and he hit two fours and six sixes. The opening pair had put on 120 in 11 overs.

So well did the innings continue that New Zealand must have entertained hopes of reaching 200, but the bowlers did manage to pull it back a little at the end. Guptill made 67 and Jesse Ryder 30 not out, the final total being 187 for three off the 18 overs. Jarvis took both wickets to fall to the bowlers for 36, but no bowler went for less than eight and a half an over. Utseya got the most blows from McCullum that his three overs went for 45 and he completely lost his pitch. At the fielding was fairly good, with no catches dropped. Zimbabwe needed to score at more than ten runs an over to win.

Zimbabwe's batsmen, however, had learned something since Saturday's game. They lost their two best batsmen, Hamilton Masakadza (9) and Brendan Taylor (1), early on, but then Chibhabha and Elton Chigumbura launched a thrilling assault on the bowling, mainly by powerful driving. For a while it was the New Zealand bowlers who felt the cosh, as the pair added 57 in six overs. Chigumbura led the way with 39 off 22 balls, a better rate of scoring than any of the New Zealanders had managed, before falling to a fine return catch by Nathan McCullum. Zimbabwe were then 84 for three in the tenth over. Amid the assault the New Zealand bowlers and fielders kept their heads and eventually broke through.

Charles Coventry fell to a soft dismissal, but Mutizwa proved a good partner for Chibhabha, who ran to his fifty off 34 balls. He then launched into the bowling of Nathan McCullum, hitting him for two big sixes, but the bowler responded well, having him stumped by his brother in the same over for 65, with four fours and five sixes. The required rate was now over 15, but Mutizwa continued the fight until a hesitation over a third run led to his dismissal for 22. Utseya, having a bad match, was involved in two run-outs in successive balls, following which the last two batsmen, hitting out, both went first ball to Doug Bracewell. The last four wickets thus fell remarkably in four balls with the total remaining on 154, but at least some of Zimbabwe's top batsmen had done their team proud on this occasion. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 187/3 (18/18 overs; Guptill 67, Jarvis 2/36), Zimbabwe 154 (16.5/18 overs; Chibhabha 65, N McCullum 3/23). New Zealand win by 34 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

New Zealand Cruise to Ten-Wicket Win

New Zealand easily won the first Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe, racing to a 10-wicket victory with 6.4 overs in hand at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe fell short of their visitors in all three departments, but the most visible was the catching. Although it did not make the difference between victory and defeat, the fielders dropped both New Zealand openers before they had reached 30, and should have avoided the humiliation of a margin of defeat as great as ten wickets.

Zimbabwe were without Tatenda Taibu, still not fully recovered from the injury he sustained during the Pakistan tour, and Vusi Sibanda, whose mother had passed away in the morning. New Zealand won the toss and put them in to bat, with the weather beautiful and the pitch slightly green and rather slow; the crowd was to grow to perhaps two or three thousand. Hamilton Masakadza drove a ball from the debutant Doug Bracewell for six over long-off in the second over, but this flattered only to deceive; in the next over he tried to do the same thing to Kyle Mills, but got a leading edge and was caught off a skier to mid-off for 9.

The rest of the innings was Brendan Taylor, accompanied by a series of batsmen who made starts but were unable to convert them to anything substantial; the next best innings was 16 by Forster Mutizwa. After ten overs the score was 57 for three; the 100 only came up in the 17th over. Taylor reached his fifty in the final over, off 46 balls; this is hardly a match-winning scoring rate in Twenty20 cricket, but he was in a difficult situation and had to hold the innings together in the absence of a durable partner at the other end. Mills and the off-spinner Nathan McCullum took two wickets each; overall the New Zealanders bowled well, with skilful variations, and gave nothing away in the field. Zimbabwe ’s 121 for eight was scarcely a defendable total.

Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill made light work of the target, helped by a few dropped catches. They played the first over or so fairly quietly before going on the attack with a vengeance. McCullum hit a big six over long-off off Kyle Jarvis in the third over, but when he had 24 he skied a catch to midwicket, where it was put down by Taylor . Guptill, for his part, was dropped at long-on by Waller when he had 22, so Zimbabwe should have had both the openers out. McCullum ran to his 50 off 36 balls, and continued the assault. They romped home with almost seven overs to spare, with only Raymond Price and Prosper Utseya (the latter had only two overs) of the bowlers escaping brutal treatment. Zimbabwe ’s ground fielding was generally good, but the seam bowling was not at par with the work rate on the field and variations were often picked up easily by the batsmen.

"We came here to win, and the way we started with the ball was pleasing, but we know Zimbabwe will come hard at us. When you have been out of cricket for so long, the way we backed up the bowlers in the field was excellent. Brendon and Martin were outstanding with the bat," said the Black Caps' skipper, Ross Taylor. The Black caps had last played international cricket five months ago at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and the victory is the first for the Taylor on his maiden tour as team captain. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 123/8 (20 overs; Taylor 50*, Mills 2/15), New Zealand 127/0 (13.3 overs; McCullum 81*, Guptill 40*). New Zealand win by 10 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

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