New Zealand 236 for 0 (Guptill 116*, Latham 110*) beat Zimbabwe 235 for 9 (Raza 100*, Sodhi 3-38) by 10 wickets
Sikandar Raza Butt cracked an entertaining century for Zimbabwe yesterday, but New Zealand still breezed to a thumping 10-wicket win to ensure parity was restored in their one-day international (ODI) series ahead of the final match on Friday.
By Kevin Mapasure
It was Raza Butt’s third ton, but it’s one that many might have already forgotten about as it was drowned in the heavy defeat.
Zimbabwe’s 235-9, after they had won the toss, was a total that brought relief as things had threatened to go embarrassingly wrong with the score at 68-5 after 18 overs.
A final result of a 10-wicket defeat still doesn’t sound right though.
New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham were untroubled as they ran down that total in 42,2 overs with a record opening partnership at Harare Sports Club.
Guptill hit 116 not out while Latham hit an unbeaten 110.
For Zimbabwe, there were periods where it looked like they would fail to reach 100 runs as batsmen trooped back to the hut one after the other in quick succession leaving the fans in shock and disbelief.
Was this the same team that had batted so well on Sunday to run down 304? More questions begged for answers and the laymen wanted to know why Elton Chigumbura had decided to bat having been successful in the run chase on Sunday.
Zimbabwe lined up the same team that did duty on Sunday, yet only Chamu Chibhabha who scored 42 was recognisable.
Of course, New Zealand were always going to come back fighting. They were always going to go back and work on their shortcomings, after that seven-wicket defeat.
They lacked penetration on Sunday and yesterday, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ish Soshi and Grant Elliot provided that.
Sunday’s result had brought with it a lot of optimism going into this one for the hosts, but soon hopes of sealing the series in the second match were disappearing as the tourists bowled themselves right back into the series.
Openers Hamilton Masakadza and Chibhabha struggled to free themselves in the first overs, and the former never recovered as he perished for a duck, becoming McClenaghan’s only scalp with Latham completing the catch with just three runs on the board for Zimbabwe.
Chibhabha loosened up and delivered some lusty blows which lifted the score, but Craig Ervine at the other end was failing to settle in and soon it was 42-2 after the latter was bowled out for a 27-ball 12.
Things got even worse when Zimbabwe lost two more wickets for just 12 runs after Regis Chakabva was snared by Sodhi while Chigumbura was caught at slip by Ross Taylor off Elliot’s bowling.
New Zealand were reminding the local fans, how good a side they are and they were doing it in ruthless fashion.
Hopes for a huge score extinguished when Chibhabha perished at 42 with Zimbabwe’s total at 68 in the 18th over.
But, a 60-run partnership between Sean Williams (26) and centurion Raza Butt helped Zimbabwe recover and restore some respectability.
Unfortunately, there was no respectability on the final result.
Fears of a below 100 score were allayed, and the ninth-wicket stand that Raza Butt made with Tinashe Panyangara of 89 boosted the innings’ health and the bowlers would have been re-energised.
Zimbabwe toiled in the field all afternoon; Graham Cremer was the most expensive going for 60 runs in his 10 overs while Chris Mpofu had an economy of 5,28 in his seven.
Panyangara bowled six overs at the expense of 30 runs while Prosper Utseya bowled 10 overs and conceded 46 runs.
The two teams have two days to prepare for Sunday’s decider.