Zim look to improve as Kiwis eye series win

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Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher emphasised the need for Zimbabwe to bat more positively and improve their fielding as the hosts clash with New Zealand in the second and final match of the Econet Twenty20 series at Harare Sports Club today.

The tourists won the opening match of their three-week cricket tour of the country on Saturday, securing a comprehensive 10 wicket victory with a massive 39 deliveries to spare.

“I thought we batted poorly, there were just too many dot balls and in the end 123 was never going to be enough to trouble New Zealand.

“Brendan Taylor batted well under the circumstances but he didn’t get the support that was required if we were to post a competitive score.

“It was also disappointing that we dropped a couple of straight foward catches again and it’s an area that we will keep working hard to improve,” said Butcher.

Zimbabwe were hit by the late withdrawals of two key players, experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Tatenda Taibu because of injury and batsman Vusi Sibanda, whose mother died early on Saturday.

The two were certain starters and had been selected in the team on the eve of the match and Butcher said their absence was strongly felt.

“In a way, their absence played some part in the poor performance. These are two of our most experienced players who had been named in the team that was supposed to play.

“Unfortunately, they ended up not featuring, which meant we had to look for other players who initially had thought they would not be playing a part in the match,” Butcher said.

The New Zealand bowlers set up the victory by restricting Zimbabwe to 123-8 in their 20 overs after being sent in, with home skipper Brendan Taylor the only batsman to shine, making 50 not out.

Opening bowler Kyle Mills and off-spinner Nathan McCullum, supported by some tight fielding, took two wickets each in a steady New Zealand bowling performance.

Openers Brendon McCullum (81 not out) and Martin Guptill (40 not out), assisted by some poor fielding by the hosts, made the target look ridiculously easy, needing only 13,3 overs to score the required runs.

McCullum thrashed six sixes and five fours off 46 balls as he confirmed his reputation as one of the world’s most destructive hitters in the shortest form of the game.

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor was delighted with the way his team played in their first competitive match since the World Cup in March.

“When you have been out of cricket for so long, the way we backed up the bowlers in the field was excellent. Brendon and Martin were outstanding with the bat,” said Taylor.

It was not clear whether Zimbabwe was going to make any changes to the squad that played on Saturday, but New Zealand are likely to keep faith in the squad that featured in the first match.