Craig Ervine’s maiden century has upstaged Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson’s record-breaking exploits as Zimbabwe stunned New Zealand by seven wickets in the first one-day international at Harare Sports Club.
Taylor and Williamson continued their remarkable run of form on Sunday as New Zealand racked up 303 for four, only for Ervine’s dashing innings to carry Zimbabwe to victory with six balls to spare.
The 29-year-old left-hander’s previous best in ODIs was 85, but promoted to the No.3 position by coach Dav Whatmore, he finished unbeaten on 130 from just 108 deliveries as the hosts chased more than 300 for just the second time in an ODI.
“It has been a hard road for us, and it shows we are capable of winning games,” Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said.
Williamson, who is captaining New Zealand on the tour in the absence of the rested Brendon McCullum, believed their total would take them to victory.
“I thought 303 was enough. It wasn’t easy up front and I thought it was a good effort,” he said.
“They outplayed us in all areas though, so full credit to them.”
A Zimbabwean victory appeared highly unlikely after Taylor and Williamson added 137 for the third wicket to register their fourth straight century stand in ODIs.
Zimbabwe started well enough after winning the toss and electing to bowl, removing openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham in the opening 10 overs, but their inability to make further inroads left them exposed.
Williamson and Taylor had no trouble in recording their 10th century stand in ODIs – a new record for a New Zealand pair.
Taylor finished unbeaten on 112, his third ODI hundred in five matches and his 15th overall, and although Williamson missed out on an eighth ODI century, his controlled 97 was his fifth straight score above fifty in the format.
However, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha put on 74 for the first wicket in reply, and after Chibhabha fell to Nathan McCullum for 42, Masakadza added a further 120 with Ervine.
Masakadza was eventually caught behind for 84 off the bowling of McCullum, who also dismissed Elton Chigumbura for 26, but Ervine held his nerve to see Zimbabwe home with time to spare.