ODI 2 at Harare Sports Club: ZIMBABWE 235-9 in 50 overs (Chibhabha 42, Raza 100*, Panyangara 33; Sodhi 3-38) lost to the BLACKCAPS 236/0 in 42.2 overs (Guptill 106*, Latham 110*) by 10 wickets
An inspired bowling performance and a massive unbeaten 237-run opening stand against Zimbabwe from Martin Guptill and Tom Latham have seen the BLACKCAPS coast home to level the One-Day International Series in Harare.
Under pressure following the seven-wicket loss two days ago at the same venue, the BLACKCAPS rallied with a much stronger performance for a record 10-wicket win in the 43rd over.
It was the BLACKCAPS' seventh 10-wicket win in ODIs but the first when chasing down more than 200. Their final tally of 236-0 was also the highest target successfully chased in all ODI history without losing a wicket. The previous world best was 230 by Sri Lanka against England at Colombo in 2011.
Once Guptill and Latham got going, the win never looked in doubt as the BLACKCAPS cruised to the total with the joint men of the match (Guptill 116* off 138; Latham 110* off 116) delivering a risk-free partnership of stylish shot-making to stun the usually rowdy crowd.
Their effort was the highest stand by any ODI side in a 10-wicket victory, and the third-highest partnership in ODI cricket for the BLACKCAPS against all teams, behind only James Marshall and Brendon McCullum (274 v Ireland, 2008 and still standing as the overall first wicket record) and Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi (267* v Sri Lanka, 2015).
Guptill recorded his eighth ODI century for New Zealand in the 36th over, while Latham brought up his maiden ODI ton three overs later.
Guptill also joined an elite club as only the fourth New Zealander to go past 1000 ODI runs in the calendar year, following Roger Twose (2000), Kane Williamson (2015) and Ross Taylor (2015) — and he became just the 10th BLACKCAP to go past 4000 ODI runs in a memorable day for the 28-year-old from Auckland.
Latham delivered on his long heralded promise in this format as he went past his previous high score of 86 and showed a full range of shots in an innings that included six fours and two sixes.
Earlier, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura had won the toss and opted to bat first, but his side was soon under pressure from the BLACKCAPS' bowling attack; the hosts reeling at 68-5 in the 18th over.
However, Zimbabwe recovered superbly thanks to a record ninth-wicket partnership of 89 runs and a third ODI century from Sikandar Raza (100* off 95 balls), making it to three figures just in time as Zimbabwe posted 235-9 in their 50 overs.
But the second ODI in the three-match series would belong to New Zealand.
While the batting was the talking point at the end of the day, the improved bowling performance will have pleased BLACKCAPS coach Mike Hesson just as much, although the attack, and fielding, unravelled somewhat as the Zimbabwean innings escalated.
Ish Sodhi (3-38) went from taking his maiden wicket to becoming the first New Zealand legspinner to claim three wickets in an ODI, while Grant Elliott (2-27), Nathan McCullum (1-38) and Mitchell McClenaghan (1-55) all contributed to the all-round effort.
McClenaghan set the tone at the top of the innings when he charged in like a man possessed to upset the Zimbabwean openers.
His aggression was rewarded when he cramped Hamilton Masakadza and had the opener who had so impressed in the opening match caught at second slip by Latham for a duck.
Elliott continued the momentum when he claimed two quick wickets; bowling the hero of the first ODI, Craig Ervine (12), and then getting the edge of the skipper Chugumbura (5) to put the BLACKCAPS on top.
Sodhi claimed his first wicket in ODI cricket when he trapped Chakabva (2) in front in 14th over, and would add Chibhabha and Cremer in a mesmerising spell of spin bowling.
Zimbabwe would recover in the final stages with Raza (100* off 95 balls) and Tinashe Panyangara (35 from 39) combining for a Zimbabwe record ninth-wicket partnership of 89 runs.
Raza and Panyangara had broken a record that had stood for more than 30 years; bettering the effort of Kevin Curran and Peter Rawson of 55 runs against the West Indies in Birmingham in 1983.
But it was the only bright spot for Zimbabwe on a day that was dominated by the BLACKCAPS.
The series is now set up for a decider at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.