BLACKCAPS open series with seven-wicket win

Different format, same result.

That summarises the opening Twenty20 international of the National Bank Series between the BLACKCAPS and Zimbabwe at Auckland tonight which the hosts won by seven wickets with 19 balls to spare.

Coming off a resounding test win followed by an emphatic 3-0 clean sweep of the one-day series, the BLACKCAPS were again on the money as they comfortably chased down Zimbabwe’s 159 for eight at Eden Park.

Their principal banker was again in-form opener Martin Guptill, who scored a Twenty20 international career best 91 not out off 54 balls to soothe the nerves after the hosts were 15 for two in the second over.

Lucky to survive a good leg before wicket shout early in his innings, Guptill was simply brutal when hitting down the ground as he and Kane Williamson produced a record thick wicket stand against all nations of 137 to see the BLACKCAPS to the brink of victory.

Williamson fell shortly before the win was achieved when run out for 48 off 38 balls, a ``heady’’ contribution while Guptill hit out to his heart’s content at the other end.

Guptill ended with six sixes and five fours beside his name as he continued a rich vein of form against the tourists.

Zimbabwe had a spring in their step when seamer Kyle Jarvis removed Rob Nicol and Brendon McCullum in the second over and while they were much more competitive they were once again left frustrated by some unreliable work in the field.

Zimbabwe’s innings was highlighted by two pugnacious knocks from Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura.

Masakadza was at the non-striker’s end when the tourists lost their batting kingpin, Captain Brendan Taylor, bowled for three attempting to leg glance left-arm steamer Michael Bates in the second over.

He refused to allow the setback to unsettle him, though, as Masakadza proceeded to prove his hitting ability by lifting both Kyle Mills and Doug Bracewell over long on en route to a forceful half-century.

He ended with 53 off 36 balls, with three sixes and three fours, before becoming the third wicket to fall when offspinner Kane Williamson induced a mishit to deep mid wicket.

While Tatenda Taibu was handy in contributing 27 off 24 balls, it was Chigumbura who gave Zimbabwe some momentum late in their innings, striking 48 off 24 with four defiant sixes and three fours.

He was at his belligerent best when taking 14 off three successive balls, over long off, behind point and through extra cover, in the 17th over from Bracewell which went for 20 runs.

Chigumbura fell just short of his half-century when he was one of two wickets to fall in the final over from Bates, who finished with three for 31 on debut.

Another debutant to impress for the hosts was left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira, who also delivered his full complement of four overs to take one for 22.

The second and final match of the series is at Hamilton on Tuesday night.  

With Thanks To

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