And they cruised to an emphatic 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first match of the two-match Econet T20 series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Setting an easy target of 124, the New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (40 not out) and Brendon McCullum (81 not out) slammed the Zimbabwe bowlers to all corners of the ground on their way to sealing the crushing win after reaching the target in 13.3 overs of their allotted 20 overs.
New Zealand got off to a flying start with a first wicket stand of 127 runs between McCullum and Guptill who both benefited from some shoddy fielding from Zimbabwe.
McCullum was the first to be given a new lease of life after being dropped at midwicket by Taylor on 27 runs in the sixth overs before Guptill was also put down by Waller three overs later on when he was on 24 runs.
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor who was making his debut as captain won the toss and elected to field a decision that paid off in the end as Zimbabwe’s measly score never looked like it would test the tourists.
The Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor fought a lone battle with an unbeaten half century (50 off 46 balls) as to help the hosts post a paltry 123 for eight in their allotted 20 overs.
No other Zimbabwe batsmen managed to reach 20 runs with the Black Caps’ seamer Kyle Mills and spinner Nathan McCullum finishing as the pick of the bowlers with two wickets apiece.
There was an early setback for the hosts, who lost two of their most experienced players Tatenda Taibu and opener Vusi Sibanda just before the match.
Sibanda missed the match following the death of his mother Jessy Sithole yesterday morning due to heart and respiratory complications while Taibu suffered an injury.
This saw wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva replace Taibu while Hamilton Masakadza promoted up the order to open the batting with Chamu Chibhabha.
Masakadza hit one fine six in the second over before perishing the very next over after he was caught at deep extra cover off the bowling of Mills for just nine runs.
Just as Zimbabwe were aiming to recover, Chibhabha was caught behind for just nine runs at the start of the fifth over again off the bowling of Mills.
Forster Mtizwa, who made the second highest contribution of 16 runs, combined with Taylor to stabilise the Zimbabwe innings after adding 28 runs for the third wicket.
Mtizwa’s dismissal signalled the end of any Zimbabwe resistance as they could not form any meaningful partnership.
The hosts’ batsmen could not convert their good starts into big scores with Malcolm Waller (10) and Charles Coventry (10) and Chigumbura (140 all good examples.
Zimbabwe now trail the two match series 1-0 and will be hoping for a better performance in the next match at the same venue tomorrow.