Williamson breaks Zimbabwe's hearts
They gave their all and came so close, but in the end Zimbabwe had to settle for second best yet again as Kane Williamson's late blitz broke their hearts.
They gave their all and came so close, but in the end Zimbabwe had to settle for second best yet again as Kane Williamson's late blitz broke their hearts and sealed a five-wicket win for New Zealand.
The result meant that Zimbabwe lost the Twenty20 series 2-0 and ended the tour without a win, but they saved their best performance for last as they posted 200 for two and came within two deliveries of defending it.
Going into the final two overs New Zealand required 27 runs, and looked set to achieve that when Brendon McCullum swung Kyle Jarvis' full toss over backward square leg for six.
However Jarvis struck back with the wickets of both McCullum and his brother Nathan to send the Black Caps into the final over requiring 14 to win.
Twenty20 debutant Andrew Ellis managed a mere single from Shingirai Masakadza's first ball, but Zimbabwe's hopes were dashed when Williamson (20 from five balls) took boundaries from the next three deliveries – including a six over long-on – to see New Zealand home with two balls to spare.
The chase had been perfectly set up by a century stand in 10 overs between openers Rob Nicol (56) and James Franklin (60), which was only parted by the introduction of Elton Chigumbura.
The allrounder had Nicol caught by deep cover, breaking New Zealand's momentum, before Franklin was brilliantly run out by a direct hit from boundary rider Keegan Meth.
Zimbabwe-born Colin de Grandhomme was bowled by Chigumbura as the tourists fought back to set up a thrilling finale, only for Williamson to have the final say.
Despite the result, Zimbabwe will at least leave New Zealand with a scrap of dignity restored. Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor both struck meaty half-centuries in a first innings that brought 10 sixes in total and turned the tables on the Black Caps.
New Zealand had spent the past couple of days looking ahead to the visit of South Africa, but Zimbabwe sent a reminder that they were still in the land of the long white cloud.
Masakadza's fifty on his return to the side in the first T20 had gone in vain, but he carried that form into this clash and found support in the recalled Stuart Matsikenyeri.
The pair put on 76 for the first wicket in just seven overs – the first decent opening partnership Zimbabwe managed all tour – which provided the platform for captain Taylor and Chigumbura to continue the big hitting in the second half of the innings.
There was a new boldness about Zimbabwe, who had nothing left to lose after a miserable tour, and it paid off as early boundaries breathed new confidence into the side.
After Matsikenyeri had fallen for 32, Masakadza went to fifty in just 26 balls and eventually holed out for 62. The positive position led Zimbabwe to promote Chigumbura, who provided a good foil for Taylor as the Zimbabwe skipper stroked his way to 75 from just 43 balls.
An inexperienced New Zealand failed to deal with the pressure, all of their eight bowlers going for runs until Kyle Mills added an air of calm in the final over.
Taylor will wonder whether he should have given the final over of the match to Chigumbura, who was 2 for 23 from his three overs. Just one of the many 'what ifs' that will accompany Zimbabwe on their flight home.
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