NZ thrash Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in a one-sided affair
The Kiwis first bundled out Elton Chigumbura and Co. for a paltry 162 in 46. 2 overs on a good batting strip. It was a disciplined bowling effort by the Kiwis as Tim Southee (3/29), Kyle Mills (2/29) and skipper Daniel Vettori (2/25) shared the spoils.
New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum didn`t have any difficulty in chasing down the target as they accomplished the job in only 33.3 overs.
Guptill struck seven fours and two sixes in his unbeaten knock of 86 off 108 deliveries while McCullum slammed two sixes and six fours as he stayed undefeated on 76 from 95 balls.
Guptill set the tone of the Black Caps chase hitting Tinashe Panyangara,for couple of boundaries and a straight six in the first over in which 14 runs came.
Runs came comfortably for the opening duo against the spin-heavy Zimbabwe attack which didn`t have enough ability to defend a modest target.
Guptill raced to his half century in 68 deliveries with the help of three fours and two sixes before his senior partner followed suit to complete his individual half century in 74 balls, with three fours and a six in it.
Both teams now travel to Sri Lanka to resume their campaign in the seven-team group with New Zealand taking on tournament co-hosts Sri Lanka on March 8 at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy, two days before Zimbabwe are pitted against the home team at the same venue.
In earlier matches in the group, both teams had been comprehensively beaten by holders Australia.
Before this clash New Zealand had trounced Kenya, also by 10 wickets, while Zimbabwe had overcome Canada by 175 runs.
While today`s emphatic victory, their 20th over Zimbabwe in 29 ODIs, has clearly steered New Zealand into a good position for making it to the knock-out rounds, the defeat has left Zimbabwe with an uphill task of defeating title contenders Sri Lanka and Pakistan to enter the last eight.
Earlier, Zimbabwe`s top-order batsmen crumbled against the New Zealand attack before the tail wagged defiantly as the African nation managed a meagre 162 in 46.2 overs.
Barring experienced opener Brendan Taylor, who top scored with 44 (57 balls, 4×4) and rearguard action from Prosper Utseya (36) and Graeme Cremer (22), the top-order batsmen put up an insipid show to leave Zimbabwe tottering at 89 for 7 after 27 overs on a strip that was good for batting.
Apart from Taylor, who was the sixth batsman to be dismissed, only Craig Irvine (11) got into double figures among the top six against a determined and efficient New Zealand. The Black Caps` bowling was backed up by some splendid fielding.
Former captain Utseya who made 36 in 65 balls with the help of 3 boundaries showed more gumption than their more accomplished frontline batsmen barring Taylor.
Zimbabweans added 40 runs for the last two wickets as New Zealand were left to score the runs at an asking rate of 3.26.
In their six head-to-head meetings, New Zealand have won five times while one match didn`t yield any result.
Zimbabwe, opted to bat first received an early jolt when opener Charles Coventry was run out for a duck in the second over of the day.
Coventry drove a Tim Southee delivery to mid-on and set off for quick single. However Hamish Bennett showed brilliant anticipation as he hit the stumps with a smart under-arm throw as Coventry was still short of his ground.
The New Zealand bowlers then stuck to a disciplined line as the batsmen found it difficult to score runs. As Zimbabwe batsmen perished due to poor shot selection, it was Taylor who showed a lot of common sense in his approach before he was adjudged leg before off Scott Styris.
Wickets fell at regular intervals. Tatenda Taibu, who scored a fine 98 in their 175-run victory over Canada, was trapped leg before by an in-cutter from Southee as the batsman tried to play it down the leg-side. The wicket-keeper made just 8 in 18 balls.
Inside 25 overs, more than half of the side were back in the hut as Daniel Vettori`s men had firm grip over the proceedings.
New Zealand skipper Vettori grabbed two wickets in the space of three deliveries in his very first over to leave Zimababwe tottering at 46 for 5 inside of the first two Powerplays.
Prior to that Kyle Mills, had sent back Craig Ervine as the batsman slashed one straight to Jesse Ryder standing at backward point. Mills (two for 29) returned to the side to play his first match in the World Cup after recovering from his back injury that forced him to miss action for one month.
Greg Lamb was also run out after the addition of three runs, an excellent piece of co-ordination by Martin Guptill and bowler Vettori, to leave Zimbabwe gasping at 89 for 7.
A stubborn ninth wicket stand of 33 between Utseya and Cremer took Zimbabwe past the 100-run mark to give the total a semblance of respectability.
Cremer edged one to rival wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum while attempting to drive Mills to leave his team at a precarious 122 for 8 after 37 overs.
Utseya and Ray Price (11) then got together to add 35 runs, incidentally the highest for the innings, for the 9th wicket in seven overs to prolong the innings before the latter got trapped in front by Southee who also sent back Utseya and had figures of three for 29 to show for his efforts.
New Zealand did not even have to summon their second spinner Nathan McCullum into the attack till late into the innings. He was called on to bowl in the 38th over of the Zimbabwean innings.
Earlier, Zimbabwe made two changes from the eleven that played in their last match against Canada which they won, bringing in Chakabava and Tinashe Panyangara for the injured Sean Williams and Chris Mpofu.