AUCKLAND - Martin Guptill's continued domination of the Zimbabwe bowling steered New Zealand to a seven-wicket win with 19 balls to spare in the opening Twenty20 match at Eden Park Saturday.
The New Zealand opener has seldom been troubled by the Zimbabwe attack and his 91 was his fifth successive half-century against the tourists following 51, 70, 77 and 85 in the Test and three one-day internationals.
His partnership with Williamson put on 137 for the third wicket after New Zealand made a shaky start to their run chase. In an eventful second over, the first two deliveries from Kyle Jarvis were dispatched to the boundary by Rob Nicol before the bowler dismissed both Nicol and Brendon McCullum in two legitimate balls separated by a wide.
New Zealand were then in trouble at two for 15 but Zimbabwe were unable to cash in on the pressure and it was to be another 15 others before they were able to take a third wicket.
After 10 overs, New Zealand were 101 for two and the outcome was already assured. There was no sign of any respite for Zimbabwe in a nightmare tour where they have been thrashed in the one-off Test and three ODIs. Guptill raced ahead hitting five fours and six sixes while a more circumspect Williamson reached 48 before he was run out taking an unnecessary single when New Zealand were then only eight runs short of their target.
Two balls later and the game was over with Guptill belting a six and a two leaving debutant batsman Colin de Grandhomme to have a brief time in the middle and not face a ball.
Jarvis was the only successful Zimbabwe bowler taking two for 32 after his side had won the toss and posted what should have been a competitive 159 for eight.
Hamilton Masakadza blasted 53 off 36 balls at the top of the innings and Elton Chigumbura finished off at the tail with 48 off 24 deliveries to contribute the bulk of the Zimbabwe runs.
Zimbabwe also had a rocky start to their innings with Brendan Taylor bowled by New Zealand debutant Michael Bates for three in the second over and Forster Mutizwa followed in the next over without scoring to be two for 16. Bates, who also claimed Chigumbura in the final over, finished his first international bowling spell with an impressive three for 31 while Kyle Mills took two for 32.
The second Twenty20 match, and the final match of the Zimbabwe tour, will be played in Hamilton on Tuesday.
B Taylor b Bates 3
H Masakadza c Franklin b Williamson 53
F Mutizwa c Guptill b Mills 0
T Taibu c Bracewell b N. McCullum 27
M Waller c Guptill b Mills 11
E Chigumbura c Guptill b Bates 48
S Masakadza b Hira 8
K Meth not out 6
P Utseya c Franklin b Bates 0
R Price not out 0
EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 1, nb 1) 3
TOTAL: (8 wickets; 20 overs) 159
FOW: 1-5 (Taylor), 2-16 (Mutizwa), 3-78 (H. Masakadza), 4-88 (Taibu), 5-106 (Waller), 6-135 (S. Masakadza), 7-156 (Chigumbura), 8-157 (Utseya)
BOWLING: Mills 4-0-32-2, Bates 4-0-31-3, Bracewell 4-0-47-0 (1nb), N. McCullum 2-0-11-1, Hira 4-0-22-1 (1w), Nicol 1-0-9-0, Williamson 1-0-6-1
R Nicol b Jarvis 12
M Guptill not out 91
B McCullum c Chigumbura b Jarvis 0
K Williamson run out (S.Mazakadza) 48
C de Grandhomme not out 0
EXTRAS: Extras (b 0, lb 0, w 9, nb 0) 9
TOTAL: (3 wickets; 16.5 overs) 160
FOW: 1-14 (Nicol), 2-15 (B. McCullum), 3-152 (Williamson)
BOWLING: Meth 4-0-34-0 (2w), Jarvis 3-0-32-2 (4w), S. Masakadza 2.5-0-26-0 (2w), Price 4-0-34-0, Utseya 2-0-18-0 (1w), Chigumbura 1-0-16-0