Zimbabwe put in an improved performance, but continued to suffer at the hands of Martin Guptill as New Zealand won the first Twenty20 international.
Zimbabwe put in an improved performance, but continued to suffer at the hands of Martin Guptill as New Zealand won the first Twenty20 international by seven wickets in Auckland.
Hamilton Masakadza made a welcome return to form as Zimbabwe posted 159 for eight after winning the toss and electing to bat at Eden Park, but after the Black caps had lost both Rob Nicol and Brendon McCullum to Kyle Jarvis early on, Guptill forged a massive 137-run partnership with Kane Williamson to craft a straightforward victory.
Guptill added a fifth half-century to his tally for the tour, meaning he has scored one in every innings, and finished unbeaten on 91 from 54 balls.
Williamson has been less successful of late, but made a breezy 48 before he was run out with the finish line in sight.
Guptill hammered the very next ball for six, before adding the two runs required to ease the Black caps home with 19 balls to spare.
The tourists had fielded first in all three one-day internationals, which they lost by ever increasing margins, leading captain Brendan Taylor to alter his tactics on Saturday.
Although Taylor fell cheaply after opening the batting, Masakadza went on to score 53 from 36 balls as Zimbabwe registered their first competitive total of the tour.
Tatenda Taibu chipped in with 27, but more impressive was Elton Chigumbura's power hitting as he struck four sixes in his 48, which came off just 24 deliveries.
New Zealand had a scare when Jarvis bowled Nicol and had McCullum stumped in the fourth over of the innings, but Guptill ensured that an upset would have to wait for another day.
<b>New Zealand:</b> Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Brendon McCullum (capt, wk), Kane Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Michael Bates, Ronnie Hira.
<b>Zimbabwe:</b> Brendan Taylor (capt), Hamilton Masakadza, Forster Mutizwa, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Shingirai Masakadza, Keegan Meth, Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Kyle Jarvis.
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