Cricket:Spirited Zimbabwe Lose to Black Caps

Chamu Chibhabha led a thrilling assault on the bowling so that the home side could at least go down with all guns blazing and lose with honour.

Chibhabha’s 65 off 39 balls was, in its way, the best innings of the day. This was better bowling than the New Zealand batsmen had to face, and under more pressure, as Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill batted for their fifties.  It was a pity this fine match – 15 sixes were hit, some truly massive – was played before a comparatively small crowd, due to its being played on a weekday and suffering from unreliable weather.

Zimbabwe played Chris Mpofu instead of Regis Chakabva, while Forster Mutizwa kept wicket.  They won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat, understandably after the disappointment on Saturday.  Unfortunately this did not help them as the knocks given to the bowling this time was, if anything, more intense this time.

It was the first of many sixes in the New Zealand innings, reduced to 18 overs due to a rain shower.  McCullum and Guptill found the gaps, picked up balls off a good length for six, and left the Zimbabwe bowlers quite helpless even to contain them.  McCullum took 31 balls for his fifty and Guptill 37.  Zimbabwe finally got a wicket when McCullum was bowled attempting a scoop off Jarvis; his 64 came off only 37 balls and he hit two fours and six sixes.  The opening pair had put on 120 in 11 overs.

So well did the innings continue that New Zealand must have entertained hopes of reaching 200, but the bowlers did manage to pull it back a little at the end.  Guptill made 67 and Jesse Ryder 30 not out, the final total being 187 for three off the 18 overs.  Jarvis took both wickets to fall to the bowlers for 36, but no bowler went for less than eight and a half an over.  Utseya got the most blows from McCullum that his three overs went for 45 and he completely lost his pitch.  At the fielding was fairly good, with no catches dropped.  Zimbabwe needed to score at more than ten runs an over to win.

Zimbabwe’s batsmen, however, had learned something since Saturday’s game.  They lost their two best batsmen, Hamilton Masakadza (9) and Brendan Taylor (1), early on, but then Chibhabha and Elton Chigumbura launched a thrilling assault on the bowling, mainly by powerful driving.  For a while it was the New Zealand bowlers who felt the cosh, as the pair added 57 in six overs.  Chigumbura led the way with 39 off 22 balls, a better rate of scoring than any of the New Zealanders had managed, before falling to a fine return catch by Nathan McCullum. 

Charles Coventry fell to a soft dismissal, but Mutizwa proved a good partner for Chibhabha, who ran to his fifty off 34 balls.  He then launched into the bowling of Nathan McCullum, hitting him for two big sixes, but the bowler responded well, having him stumped by his brother in the same over for 65, with four fours and five sixes.  The required rate was now over 15, but Mutizwa continued the fight until a hesitation over a third run led to his dismissal for 22.  Utseya, having a bad match, was involved in two run-outs in successive balls, following which the last two batsmen, hitting out, both went first ball to Doug Bracewell.  The last four wickets thus fell remarkably in four balls with the total remaining on 154, but at least some of Zimbabwe’s top batsmen had done their team proud on this occasion.