Black Caps win by Ten Wickets

Result: New Zealand won by ten wickets.

The New Zealand tourists easily won the first Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe , racing to 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.

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