On many occasions, Zimbabwe’s chase of 274 mirrored their effort in the first ODI on August 02, 2015. They had a victory target of 304 but Craig Ervine muscled his way and successfully chased it to give the home side a 7-wicket victory. Batting first in the third and final ODI on Friday, New Zealand found that scoring had become difficult at times and they ended up at 273/6. Only Grant Elliott and James Neesham could reach the run-a-ball average. Regardless, it was another marvelous effort from Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, who ended up with his sixth consecutive fifty-plus score. Count of Kane Williamson’s failure to reach the century mark after getting into nineties is going up and it reminds us of Sachin Tendulkar, who used to get out in the nervous nineties. Be that as it may, Williamson’s contribution of 90 runs proved extremely valuable. When they began their chase, Zimbabwe looked like repeating their first ODI show as Hamilton Masakadza thrashed New Zealand bowlers. With Chamu Chibhabha lending Masakadza good company, the opening stand almost reached the three-figure mark. But the fall of 3 wickets in the space of 17 runs and Craig Ervine’s unfortunate run out in the 33rd over snuffed the fight out of Zimbabwe. Although Sean Williams created a late scare with his 62-ball 63, he didn’t have support from the other end as asking rate kept going up. In the end, New Zealand cruised to a comfortable 38-run victory to win the ODI series 2-1.
Elton Chigambura won the toss and asked New Zealand to bat first. The visitors were without star player Ross Taylor, who suffered a groin injury during training on Thursday and was ruled out. James Neesham came in Taylor’s place and Ben Wheeler replaced Matt Henry. The pitch was hard and Zimbabwe began with a maiden over. Tinashe Panyangara and Nevill Madziva kept a good line and didn’t allow many scoring opportunities. With Tom Latham and Martin Guptill also avoiding risky shots, New Zealand just trudged along. For the last power-play over, Chigumbura brought in off-spinner John Nyumbu. Zimbabwe earned their first wicket, when Latham charged down and tried a cross-batted heave off Nyumbu. The turn on the ball took it to midwicket, where Graeme Cremer took a sharp catch. Latham was getting frustrated after scoring just 16 off 29 balls and that perhaps resulted in his downfall. Skipper Kane Williamson joined Guptill and together they carried the score to 100 before Guptill fell to an outside edge to a flighted ball from Cremer. Colin Munro was next to go but Williamson continued from one end. The captain had a good partnership with Grant Elliott as the two of them added 70 for the fourth wicket. But Elliott and Williamson departed in a space of 4 runs with New Zealand score reading 202/5 in the 41st over. Useful contributions from James Neesham and Luke Ronchi in the last 10 overs took New Zealand to 273/6 in 50 overs.
For Zimbabwe, the victory-target of 274 was not insurmountable, after they had chased down 304 a week ago. They began well with a 97-run opening stand by 23rd over. With Hamilton Masakadza looking in good touch and plenty of batsmen to follow, Zimbabwe looked on course. However, they lost 3 wickets for just 17 runs in the next four overs to slump to 114/3. Craig Ervine and Sean Williams looked like changing the course of the match and scored briskly. At the score of 159, however, Ervine fell as a run-out victim to a brilliant piece of fielding by Ben Wheeler. After Ervine’s departure, Sean Williams continued with his barrage of shots but wickets kept tumbling at the other end. With the asking rate mounting, even Williams 63 off 62 balls couldn’t help Zimbabwe as their innings folded at 235 all out in the 48th over. For New Zealand, Mitchell McClenaghan took 3/36 and Ish Sodhi 2/47 as the visitors finished with a 38-run win that gave them a 2-1 ODI series victory as well.
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