Although Zimbabwe will not go into the second match of the one-day series against New Zealand as favourites in spite of having won the first match, they will be high on confidence following the adrenaline-pumping win. Zimbabwe put up a magnificent batting show to easily overhaul a challenging total put up by the Kiwis. They will thus be keen to continue their good work, and seal a series-clinching win, which would be a massive achievement. After all, they are still an underdog side in international cricket. They competed well against India, even winning the last T20. A series win over New Zealand will be a step forward.
Undoubtedly, it was Zimbabwe's batting that stood out in their effort on Sunday. Right from the start of the chase, they seemed in complete command. Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha gave the side a solid start to set the ball rolling. Masakadza has been key for the team with his experience while Chibhabha has been consistency personified even while maintaining an impressive strike rate. Of course, the victory couldn't have been achieved without the splendid efforts of Craig Ervine. His stupendous hundred was growing proof of his prowess with the bat.
It is in the bowling that Zimbabwe have weak links. Tinashe Panyangara was the only one who impressed. He kept things tight at the start, getting the ball to move around and showing good control. Even in the death, he bowled cunningly. But, the rest were easily taken apart for runs. They started reasonably well on Sunday, but had lost control by the time the middle overs came around, and were totally thrashed in the last 10 overs. Christopher Mpofu went for 84 from his 10 overs in the first match and his performance, in a sense, typified Zimbabwe's shoddy overall bowling effort.
Poor bowling was also New Zealand's bane on Sunday. They clearly missed Tim Southee and Trent Boult, as the other pacers in the team could not make any sort of impact. Both Matt Henry and James Neesham were completely off colour, and the Zimbabweans found the going easy against him. Mitchell McClenaghan also had a poor outing. In fact, New Zealand's bowling unit as a whole failed to make any kind of an impact on the Zimbabweans. Nathan McCullum was the only wicket-taker for the Kiwis in the opening match. He bowled with guile to make an impression on the batsmen.
New Zealand do not have any such problems with their batting. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson have played themselves into tremendous form following a poor World Cup, and both seem to be making up for some lost time. They looked in no sort of trouble at all as one crossed another hundred, and the other narrowly missed out on one. If anything, New Zealand will want their batsmen to score at a faster pace since 300 is no longer a safe score. They would also like big runs from Martin Guptill in the absence of Brendon McCullum. Also, Tom Latham must grab his opportunity at the top. It's a must win match for the Kiwis, so they need to raise their game.
-- By A Cricket Analyst