Martin Guptill played a magnificent innings of unbeaten 91 runs which led New Zealand to an easy victory in the first Twenty20 against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe set a target of 160 runs which was achieved by the Black Caps on the fifth ball of the 17th over.
Guptill was unanimously declared ‘Player of the match’ for his herculean innings which he demonstrated at Eden Park, Auckland, on February 11, 2012.
Earlier, Brendan Taylor won the toss, preferred to bat while opening the innings with Hamilton Masakadza and earned three runs in the first over. Taylor lost his patience in the very next over and lost his wicket for three runs which was a big setback for the visitors. The second wicket followed at the total of 16 runs and the things were looking difficult for Zimbabwe.
Tatenda Taibu joined with Masakadza who became more productive of the two by sending the ball out of the fence flying and rolling more often. They intensified the total with positive batting by taking the score to 78 runs in 10.2 overs and brought some stability in the innings.
Masakadza tried to force the pace and was caught at the midwicket boundary by James Franklin off Kane Williamson for 53 off 36 balls with three sixes and even fours. Taibu was the next batsman to follow for 27 runs as Elton Chigumbura took charge of the mission. He triggered the runs keeping in view the limited availability of the balls left as the wickets kept on plundering at the other end.
Chigumbura punched two consecutive hustling sixes as the 20th over begun but lost his wicket on the third ball for 48 off 24 balls which included four huge sixes and three fours. None of the late order batsmen got into double figures as Zimbabwe achieved 159 runs for the loss of eight wickets at the end of the 20th over.
Michael Bates took the honours of the day by getting three wickets, Kyle Mills held two as Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira and Williamson shared one wicket each.
The Kiwis lost two early wickets for mere 15 runs on board in 1.4 overs which included Rob Nicol on 12 and their Captain Brendon McCullum without opening his account. Williamson strengthened the position of the home side as Guptill became combative and his bat started showering boundaries. He dispatched 14 runs in the fourth over and the following few overs witnessed almost the same fate as Williamson continued with the rhythm at the other end.
The express batting from the duo smashed 137 runs for the third wicket when Williamson was unluckily run out for 48 off 38 balls aided with five fours. Guptill continued the assault as the target was achieved once he gathered two runs on the second ball of the 17th over. The dashing opener remained unbeaten for 91 runs off just 54 balls which comprised 6 towering sixes and 5 fours.
Kyle Jarvis was the only bowler who had some success by taking two wickets as none other was able to impress.
New Zealand won the match for seven wickets and continued their winning spree against the visitors who have yet to win a game on their present trip.