New Zealand

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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]

Zimbabwe in New Zealand Itinerary Released

Following the recent confirmation by the New Zealand government that they would not prevent Zimbabwe touring the country, New Zealand Cricket have posted an itinerary for Zimbabwe's scheduled tour, due to take place at the beginning of 2012. The tour includes one Test, 3 ODIs and 2 Twenty20 Internationals. Here are the dates:

26-30 January 2012     Only Test           McLean Park, Napier
3 February 2012        1st ODI             University Oval, Dunedin
6 February 2012        2nd ODI             Cobham Oval, Whangarei
9 February 2012        3rd ODI             McLean Park, Napier
12 February 2012       1st T20I            Eden Park, Auckland
14 February 2012       2nd T20I            Seddon Park, Hamilton

That'll be our first Test outside Zimbabwe in a loooong time...
[Source: New Zealand Cricket]

Full 2011 International Fixtures List

Just done a monster update to our Fixtures page, with full schedules for the following series:

Triangular 'A' Series (Australia 'A', South Africa 'A', Zimbabwe XI)
Australia 'A' in Zimbabwe
Bangladesh in Zimbabwe
Pakistan in Zimbabwe
New Zealand in Zimbabwe

That list includes three Test matches - 2 in Bulawayo, 1 in Harare - and I have to say it felt good typing them in.

Zimbabwe Lose to New Zealand By 10 Wickets

Zimbabwe's fragile top order batting cracked under pressure once as they crashed to a resounding 10-wicket defeat against New Zealand in their third match at the ICC Cricket World Cup at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Friday. Having been reduced to a shocking 46-5 in the 15th over Zimbabwe faced the prospect of suffering a similar fate to the one which befell co-host nation Bangladesh against the West Indies later in the day but, instead of being bowled out for 58 they recovered well to reach 162 all out. The total was no match for the Black Caps, however, and openers Martin Guptill and Brendan McCullum raced to victory in untroubled and emphatic style with unbeaten scores of 86 and 76 respectively.

Two late withdrawals from the first-choice starting XI set Zimbabwe off on the back foot and an extraordinary umpiring decision against captain Elton Chigumbura made a bad day worse but none of them made a material impact on the result, such was the gulf between the teams on the day.

Chris Mpofu failed to recover from a side strain in time to lead the bowling attack and left handed batsman Sean Williams as well was did not recover from a thumb injury. Tinashe Panyangara was drafted in to replace Mpofu while Reggie Chakabva came in for Williams. Chigumbura, meanwhile, had hopes of digging his team out of early trouble at 46/3 when he joined the excellent Brendan Taylor who finally found his best form during an innings of 44 from 57 balls. The captain used his feet to good effect - or thought he had - when he double-stepped down the wicket to opposite number Daniel Vettori and was hit on the pads.

Zimbabwe now travel to Sri Lanka on Saturday morning where they face two games against the home side on March 10 and Pakistan on March 14, both in the northern town of Pallekele close to the city of Kandy. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 162 (46.2 overs; Taylor 44, Southee 3/29), New Zealand 166/0 (33.3 overs; Guptill 86*, B McCullum 76*). New Zealand win by 10 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Three Tests Included in ZC's 2011 Schedule

Newsday reports that ZC have released their 2011 playing calendar, which includes three Test matches - against Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand - as well as a number of other fixtures to make for a busy year. The playing schedule apparently has the blessing of the ICC, and will also see Zim playing their first home day/night ODIs, against Bangladesh. Here're the details:

July 1-10                       Triangular Series: Australia A, South Africa A, Zimbabwe XI
July 13-23                      Australia A v Zimbabwe XI: 2 unofficial Tests
August 1-21                     Bangladesh v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 5 ODIs
August 28 - September ??        Pakistan v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
September 21 - October 3        South Africa v Zimbabwe: 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
October 21 - November 14        New Zealand v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

Busy year ahead, then, and ZC seem to be sticking to the 'phased return' plan. The 'A' series provide a good warm-up for the later full series, with the rest of the year making sure that lack of match experience shouldn't be an excuse for anyone. All we need now are some good results...
Newsday - Busy schedule for Zim cricket team

New Zealand 'A' Win 3rd Unofficial Test

New Zealand A ran to victory in the third unofficial Test match at Country Club by nine wickets, a win that from the Zimbabwean point of view was disappointingly easy.

They made light of their target, thanks to a fine opening partnership and an uninspired bowling and fielding performance from the home team. They thus took the three-match series by two victories to none, with one match drawn.

The day began with New Zealand A starting the final innings of the match, needing 168 for victory. The odds were in their favour, but the hope was that the Zimbabweans would put up a good fight – and a surprise victory was not impossible. Unfortunately, it was clear almost from the start that the Zimbabwean seamers, who had bowled so superbly only twenty-four hours earlier, were quite unable to test the batsmen in the same way this time round. The batsmen forsook their team’s usual policy of defending grimly against the new ball for half an hour, especially at the start of play, and were on the lookout for runs right from the start. It helped that Tinashe Panyangara and Mike Chinouya were unable to find line and length, and produced a great many balls the batsmen were able to attack without difficulty. Peter Ingram in particular indulged in some lofted drives and even the normally circumspect Tim McIntyre pulled a ball from Panyangara for six. Trevor Garwe was the only bowler able to keep the batsmen in check, but he couldn’t do the job single-handed; after ten overs the score was 43 and 51 was on the board in an hour. A few instances of indifferent fielding did not help Zimbabwe A’s cause.

Both batsmen reached their fifties, Ingram off 64 balls and McIntosh off 78. The 100 came up in the 23rd over, and at lunch the score was 115 without loss. The match was virtually in the bag, and there was a chance of one of the batsmen reaching a century. Soon after lunch, though, Ingram fatally hooked a short ball from Chinouya and hit it straight to the fielder in the deep, departing for 63; the opening stand had put on 122.

The new batsman Martin Guptill was not in the mood for hanging around. He quickly got stuck into Chinouya with a series of lofted drives, and then swung a ball from Timycen Maruma over midwicket for six, to finish with 25 not out off only 19 balls. McIntosh was unbeaten with 76 off 109 balls, and the tourists’ victory was convincing and well deserved. The Zimbabwean team showed promise and good cricket at times, but the greater experience and also determination of the tourists was decisive. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 186 (55.1 overs; Waller 39, Martin 4/41) & 189 (43.5 overs; Mawoyo 62, Arnel 3/47), New Zealand 208 (68.3 overs; Hopkins 69, Chinouya 3/44) & 168/1 (35.4 overs; McIntosh 76*, Chinouya 1/36). New Zealand 'A' win by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

NZ 'A' Claim 10-Wicket Win in 2nd 'A' Test

First-innings tons by Kiwis How (115) and Hopkins (100), plus a rather poor display by the home side, saw New Zealand 'A' claim a 10-wicket win in the 2nd 'A' Test between the two sides, played at Zimbabwe Cricket Academy in Harare. The visitors posted first-innings total of 526/8 before declaring, having had little trouble dealing with Zimbabwe's bowlers - Njabulo Ncube took 3/87, but it was an unthreatening attack that the Kiwis treated accordingly.

Unfortunately, New Zealand didn't return the favour - Zim were bowled out for 256 in their first innings and were forced to follow on (Franklin's 5/22 being the pick of the bunch then, and were similarly dismissed for 287 in their second, with Arnel taking a hugely impressive 8/82 along the way, leaving New Zealand chasing a paltry 18 runs to win in their second innings - a result that was never in doubt. The only real bright spot in the Zim innings was Timycen Maruma's 62 not out in the first, but beyond that the game was mostly a series of starts that didn't push on. After the far closer opening match, this was a disappointing affair, and leaves the Kiwis eyeing a series victory in the next match. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 526/8d (141.3 overs; How 115, Ncube 3/87) & 18/0 (4.2 overs; How 12*, Ncube 0/3), Zimbabwe 256 (66.4 overs; Maruma 62*, Franklin 5/22) & 287 (f/o; 102.1 overs; Marillier 50, Arnel 8/82). New Zealand 'A' win by 10 wickets.

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