Harare, Oct 15: New Zealand cruised to a 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club here today. New Zealand's disciplined bowling attack set the tourists on their victory path after restricting Zimbabwe to 123-8 inside 20 overs.
Seamer Kyle Mills and spinner Nathan McCullum took two wickets each as New Zealand's attack kept Zimbabwe's batsmen off balance throughout. Captain Brendan Taylor top-scored for Zimbabwe with an unbeaten 50. In pursuit, openers Martin Guptill (40 not out) and Brendon McCullum (81 not out) immediately went on the attack, taking advantage of Zimbabwe's inaccurate bowling and poor fielding.
The touring side romped home with 39 balls to spare. "We didn't play well at all, we were not even close to our best, we didn't hit the ground running today," Zimbabwe captain Taylor said. Mills' accurate bowling was marked by good line and length as Zimbabwe struggled to score freely off him. He ended with figures of 2-15. He removed both openers, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha, for 9 to peg back the hosts.
First to go was Masakadza, who fell to a full delivery that was caught at mid off by Nathan McCullum. Chibhabha drove straight to Brendon McCullum. Forster Mutizwa, who scored 16, was Zimbabwe's second-best scorer as wickets fell at regular intervals. Zimbabwe's batting lineup was weakened after in-form top order batsman Vusi Sibanda pulled out of the team just before the start of the game after learning of the death of his mother.
Former captain Tatenda Taibu also withdrew after injuring his finger while batting in the nets. The second and final game of the Twenty20 series is on Monday before three ODI matches and a one-off Test.