HARARE: Captain Kane Williamson's steady knock and an assured performance from the New Zealand bowlers saw the tourists secure a 38-run victory in Friday's third one-day international against Zimbabwe and wrap up a 2-1 series win.
Williamson recorded his sixth straight score of 50 or more as his 90 guided New Zealand to 273 for six, and although Zimbabwe's opening stand gave the World Cup finalists a scare, the bowlers held their nerve to restrict the hosts to 235 all out.
New Zealand therefore completed a come-from-behind series victory, having lost the first ODI by seven wickets.
"It certainly wasn't easy today, so the way that the boys stuck in it and put up a competitive total was a really good effort," said Williamson, who was named man of the match and man of the series.
"We thought it was a very good total until Zimbabwe came out and played the way they did and put us under a lot of pressure, but full credit to our boys for learning from that first game and pulling it back nicely."
On a dry wicket, New Zealand's batsmen were tested by Zimbabwe's spin duo of Graeme Cremer and John Nyumbu, who took five wickets between them.
Off-spinner Nyumbu made the initial breakthrough when he dismissed Tom Latham, and after New Zealand rebuilt to 100 for one, Cremer had Martin Guptill caught at slip for 42 and then spun one through the defences of Colin Munro.
Williamson added 70 for the fourth wicket with Grant Elliott, but New Zealand were pegged back when Cremer dismissed Elliott for 36, and Williamson was brilliantly caught on the boundary for 90 off Nyumbu's bowling.
Although James Neesham and Nathan McCullum boosted the New Zealand total with an unbroken stand of 50 from 25 balls, Zimbabwe were on track to chase down the target when Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha put on 97 for the first wicket.
It required a timely intervention from Mitchell McClenaghan to pull things back as he bowled Chibhabha for 32, before Masakadza struck a short ball from Williamson straight to deep midwicket and departed for 57.
A budding partnership between Craig Ervine and Sean Williams was then snaffled out by Ben Wheeler's sharp fielding off his own bowling, and although Williams went on to hit 63, McClenaghan returned to grab two more wickets and finish with figures of 3 for 36 as New Zealand won comfortably enough.
"Our batting let us down -- I thought it was a reasonable score to chase," Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said.
"We had the foundation, but myself and a few other batters failed to put runs on the board. It's something we can learn from."
The two teams will meet again at Harare Sports Club on Sunday for a one-off Twenty20 international, when New Zealand will once again be without Ross Taylor.
The batsman missed Friday's match and was ruled out of the remainder of the tour -- which includes two Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals against South Africa -- when he suffered a blow to the groin in training on Thursday and required minor surgery.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ