Test & ODI Matches

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New Zealand Complete ODI Series Whitewash

Zimbabwe-born substitute fielder Colin de Grandhomme helped heap further humiliation on his former countrymates in the 3rd and final ODI between Zimbabwe and New Zealand, as Zimbabwe slumped to a 202-run loss - the largest margin of the series. Led by Brendan McCullum's 88-ball 119, the home side reached a massive 373/8 in their 50 overs, treating the Zimbabwean "attack", further blunted no doubt by the demoralising effect of this series, with complete disdain. In reply, Zimbabwe could muster only 171 before they were bowled out, with Brendan Taylor (65) being the only stand-out performance in another pitiful display. de Grandhomme played a part in three of the wickets, catching both Taylor and Tatenda Taibu and contributing to the run-out of Malcolm Waller. Zimbabwe's players and fans will be glad the ODI portion of the tour is over - but there are still two T20 Internationals to come, which could yet heap further ignominy on the side. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 373/3 (50 overs; M McCullum 119, Jarvis 2/58), Zimbabwe 171 (44 overs; Taylor 65, Williamson 2/13). New Zealand win by 202 runs.

New Zealand Seal ODI Series With 2nd ODI Win

The Blackcaps sealed the three-match series against Zimbabwe with a game to spare. Ignited by a high quality 146 from opener Rob Nicol, the New Zealanders racked up a formidable 372 for six at Cobham Oval in Whangarei before completing victory by a crushing margin of 141 runs. The third highest one-day score on record for the New Zealanders proved far too much for Zimbabwe, who responded with 231 for eight as the Blackcaps took a 2-0 lead into the third and final match at Napier on Thursday.

After rain delayed the start by 35 minutes Zimbabwe had the better of the early exchanges when only 10 runs came from the opening five overs. But that was as good as it got for the tourists because it was then all New Zealand as Nicol and Martin Guptill set the tone with an excellent first wicket stand of 131 inside 24 overs. Guptill was in imperious touch before his fourth consecutive one-day half-century ended on 77 when he drilled a ball from spinner Ray Price to mid wicket where Shingirai Masakadza took a fine catch on the run just inside the boundary rope.

Guptill was again clinically efficient as he dominated the early scoring to such a degree that the team’s 50 came with Nicol on nine, but the latter began hitting his straps then had the luxury of biding his time when the home side promoted Jacob Oram from No 8 to first drop and called for the batting power play from overs 25 through 29. The 33-year-old left-hander responded with his first half-century since the 2009-10 season, striking 35 of the 44 runs scored during the power play before reaching his 50 off only 23 balls. He performed his pinch hitting role to perfection to plunder 59 off 28, with five fours and four sixes, before holing out seeking more after having delivered a blunt reminder of his enduring quality with bat in hand.

Nicol, in just his fifth one-day international, raised his second century at the top level during an excellent fifth wicket stand of 92 with 19-year-old Tom Latham before hitting four more sixes to lift his haul to six to go alongside 10 fours. Two of the maximum strikes were audaciously played, when he fetched a ball well outside off from Elton Chigumbura and planted it over square leg, which was the same destination for a sweetly timed flick off his pads. With runs flowing at the other end for a large portion of his 134-ball stay Nicol rotated the strike and paced his innings nicely before departing when on the charge in the 49th over with the fifth highest one-day score by a New Zealander.

Latham, too, prospered after being dropped on 14, and showed impeccable timing and an ability to invent as he hit five fours and two sixes in a 28-ball 48 before falling in the final over. The last five overs produced 86 runs, 25 of them coming in the 48th from seamer Kyle Jarvis.

Zimbabwe, who lost the opening match of the series by 90 runs in Dunedin, were always up against it despite Cobham Oval presently an excellent batting strip offering consistent pace and bounce. The exercise quickly became an academic one as Zimbabwe’s top order frailties were again exploited, with Kyle Mills, Tim Southee and Oram combining to immediately extinguish any hopes the tourists had of at least challenging the hosts.

Just as he did in Dunedin, Mills collected two top order wickets, including captain Brendan Taylor, who fell to a top edge as the visitors took another walk down Struggle Street at 17 for three after 6.5 overs. They could not find their way to safer ground either as Oram backed up his performance with the bat to remove Regis Chakabva leg before wicket and Malcolm Waller to an edge behind. At 62 for five, Zimbabwe were out of the contest, which they acknowledged as Tatenda Taibu and Chigumbura contented themselves with pitch occupation as the 100 was raised in the 30th over before Taibu found the boundary for the first time after facing 67 deliveries.

Taibu at least had the satisfaction of finding some form in making 50 off 76 balls while allrounder Chigumbura was more aggressive in making a 69-ball 63 containing seven fours and one six. These two collaborated in a face-saving 80-run partnership which was broken when Taibu slapped a long hop from offspinner Nicol straight to long off. Chigumbura followed soon afterwards when bowled by Oram, who completed an outstanding match double by taking three for 29 off his 10 overs.

Shingirai Masakadza, with a brisk 38, and Prosper Utseya, 27 not out, saw Zimbabwe past 200 with a stand of 64 for the eighth wicket but the only consolation for the visitors was the fact they managed to see out their 50 overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 372/6 (50 overs; Nicol 146, Utseya 3/71), Zimbabwe 231/8 (50 overs; Chigumbura 63, Oram 3/29). New Zealand win by 141 runs.
[Match report via ZC / NZC]

Zimbabwe Lose 1st ODI by 90 Runs

Zimbabwe would have been reasonably satisfied as their bowlers restricted New Zealand to 248 all out just short of their 50 overs thanks in the main to the lion hearted Shingirai Masakadza who used the over head conditions and changes of pace magnificently as he claimed a career best 4-46.

249 was always going to be a tall order on a bowler friendly wicket and losing the top three batsmen with just 15 runs on the board meant that Zimbabwe were always going to be hard pressed to get to a total of respectability and there is no doubt that some supporters would have had visions of another collapse similar to the first innings disaster of 51. However, Brendan Taylor continued his remarkable form against New Zealand as he passed 50 for the fourth consecutive time against New Zealand in one day international cricket before holding out to long on for a fluent 58, which included one of the biggest struck sixes seen at the ground.

But Taylor had no real support from the top and middle order as Tatenda Taibu got a start but then got out for 20 and when Malcolm Waller and Elton Chigumbura followed for 12 and 15 respectively, the writing was on the wall. Had it not been for Raymond Price who frustrated the black caps by scoring an unbeaten 26 batting at number 10, the visitor's total would have been appalling.

This was another disappointment for the men in red but one has to single out Shingirai Masakadza who's 'never say die' attitude along with a fierce desire to take wickets for his country shows that passion and pride are still a part of the team. One can only hope that the young man’s energy and enthusiasm will rub off on the rest of the team. It would also be well advised to seriously consider preparing pitches with more pace and bounce back home which will not only benefit and improve techniques of the countries batsmen, but will also encourage fast bowling instead of the flat and unresponsive pitches currently been used. It would be very disappointing to be in the same boat as teams from the sub-continent who thrive in their home conditions but more often than not flatter to deceive when going on tour. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 248 (48.3 overs; Guptill 70, S Masakadza 4/46), Zimbabwe 158 (41.1 overs; Taylor 58, Nicol 4/19). New Zealand win by 90 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Zimbabwe Slump to Record Loss

Zimbabwe recorded their largest-ever defeat in Tests against New Zealand at the weekend, losing by an innings and 301 runs on day three - after most of day two had been lost to rain. An innefectual bowling display allowed New Zealand to reach 495/7 before declaring early on day three; the hosts then went on to humiliate Zimbabwe by bowling them out twice in the remainder of the day, first for 51 in the first innings - a new Test low for Zimbabwe, "beating" the 54 they recorded against South Africa in their last away Test - and then for 143 in the second innings, where at least Regis Chakabva (63) discovered some fight to get the score into double-figures. Chris Martin led the bowling figures for New Zealand, taking a combined 8/31 in the match. A beaten and bruised Zimbabwe now move on to the ODI series, which starts at Dunedin on Friday. Full scorecard - which doesn't make for pretty reading - is below the cut.
New Zealand 495/7 decl (123.4 overs; Taylor 122, Watling 102*, Cremer 2/112), Zimbabwe 51 (28.5 overs; Waller 23, Martin 2/5) & 143 (f/o; 48.3 overs; Chakabva 63, Martin 6/26). New Zealand win by an innings and 301 runs.

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.

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]

Proficient Pakistan Seal Coca-Cola ODI Series

Pakistan celebrated a series whitewash with a 28 run victory over Zimbabwe, at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday. The visitors won all three matches in the Coca-Cola ODI series, in addition to the one-off Test match played in Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe made one change to their team, bringing in Kyle Jarvis for Chris Mpofu, while Pakistan made three, to give all of their squad a game with the series decided. Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first, bearing mind that the over 60% of the teams that decided to bowl first won their matches at Harare Sports Club. Superb batting saw Pakistan run up 34 runs off the first three overs, with Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat piercing the gaps for one boundary after another with ease. Then the bowlers tightened up, and the batsmen had to work harder until Hafeez pulled a ball from Brian Vitori to deep square leg to depart for 23 in the seventh over, with the score 45/1.

This was the pattern of the Pakistan innings, with periods of great strokeplay followed by times when Zimbabwe managed to pull them back within limits, although the tourists always had their noses in front. There was some brilliant Zimbabwe fielding and catching, but it was not good enough to turn the match. A low catch in the covers removed Farhat for 37, but then came a stand of 97 in 19 overs between Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq, one of the three newcomers to the team. They did not take the attack apart, but worked the ball around the field seemingly almost at will, accumulating quickly and steadily. As long as they were together, Pakistan had hopes of reaching 300.

Asad was stumped for 51, but Younus went on to make 81 off 90 balls, although dropped twice. He and Shoaib Malik were both out to superb return catches by Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura respectively in quick succession, and this scuppered the team’s chances of 300. However, Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal kept the score moving to the eventual total of 270 for five. Chigumbura, keeping an admirable line and length, was Zimbabwe’s best bowler with two for 36.

"There were too many dot-balls at the start which made it tough for people coming in. Good teams make it tough for you to build on a platform, and Pakistan played the better cricket today. Our bowlers showed good heart in the middle and end overs, but they came out and made it difficult for us," lamented Zimbabwean captain, Brendan Taylor.

Zimbabwe struggled in the beginning against accurate bowling from Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan. Sibanda brought the chase to life, taking three fours off an over from Tanvir, and the pair stepped up a gear. Crucially, they kept their wickets intact, although there were a couple of difficult chances. They both played with much better judgment and the 100 came up without loss in the 24th over. The bad news was that the required run rate was now over 6.5.

Sibanda had just reached his fifty, which he celebrated with a six over midwicket, and then checked out for 59 with a catch straight to long-on. The opening partnership had put on 110 in 25 overs. Brendan Taylor had an early exit, nudging a catch to the keeper for 6. Chibhabha after reaching his 50 began to attack, but on 62 hit a catch to short extra cover, reducing Zimbabwe to 133 for three. With the required rate now almost eight, this put tremendous pressure on the new batsmen.

Tatenda Taibu made 27 off 26 balls before falling on the midwicket boundary to a superb catch by Younus Khan, and then Hamilton Masakadza miscued a pull to midwicket. Zimbabwe were now 179 for five, required rate over eight, and all hopes rested on Chigumbura, who had done it before. But as he settled in with Malcolm Waller the rate rose to ten for the last eight overs, a virtually impossible task even for Chigumbura, given the circumstances and the tight bowling attack. The former captain struck one four in anger and then holed out on the midwicket boundary for 9 off 15 balls, the final nail in Zimbabwe’s demise.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe have a chance to get a victory on Friday in the first of two Twenty20 matches lined up in the series.
Pakistan 270/5 (50 overs; Younis Khan 81, Chigumbura 2/36), Zimbabwe 242/9 (50 overs; Chibhabha 62, Aizaz Cheema 4/43). Pakistan win by 28 runs.

Pakistan Ease to 10-Wicket Win in 2nd ODI

Pakistan barely broke into a sweat as they eased their way to a massive 10-wicket win, and secured the series in doing so, in the 2nd ODI in Harare. The day got underway with a touch of farce as, after winning the toss, Brendan Taylor 'froze' and announced that Zimbabwe would bat - it later emerged that the intention had been to field. Put in the unenviable position of setting a target, Zimbabwe's problems with pacing an innings soon came to the fore, and on a pitch where 260 would have been a par score the side only managed 225. It wasn't for lack of wickets in hand, either - 6 were lost during the innings - but after the early losses of Vusi Sibanda (once again out to the pull shot) and Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor settled down to a lengthy 104-run partnership that was simply too slow for the conditions. When the pair finally departed, Zimbabwe also kept big-hitting Elton Chigumbura out of the game until it was too late for him to make much difference, sending Tatenda Taibu and Malcolm Waller in ahead of him.

The failure to set a par target meant that, come their turn to bat, Pakistan simply had to avoid taking any chances, and that's what they did. Chris Mpofu and Brian Vitori managed to get some early turn off the wicket but failed to make any breakthroughs; spin pairing of Prosper Utseya and Ray Price tried their best to choke the flow of runs but, faced with a low target to work with, couldn't do enough, and opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat carried their bats to complete the chase without the loss of any Pakistan wickets.

Not a good day at the office, then, and the result raises some questions over team tactics and the side selected for the day. There's one more chance for Zimbabwe to save some face, with the 3rd ODI, also in Harare, on Wednesday (14th September). Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 225/6 (50 overs; Masakadza 68, Sohail Tanvir 2/33), Pakistan 228/0 (42.1 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 139*, Imran Farhat 75*). Pakistan win by 10 wickets.

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