New Zealand seamer Kyle Mills has warned against underestimating Zimbabwe, after the tourists suffered heavy defeats in the one-off Test and the first one-day international (ODI).
Ahead of the second ODI in Whangarei, Mills said he expected Zimbabwe to be better acclimatised with the seamer-friendly conditions and be more competitive in the remaining games.
“There’s no doubt they are going to come back a lot better, harder and stronger in Whangarei,” Mills told Fairfax NZ News.
“That’s the general theme in most series around the world. The waters are tested in the first game, but as the series progresses, both teams get a better read on each other and what they’re trying to do and get a better understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses.”
Zimbabwe lost the Napier Test by an innings and 301 runs within three days, their worst ever Test defeat. They were rolled over twice on the same day, for scores of 51 and 143.
The Test finished on the third day, with a bulk of play on the second day lost due to rain. The team fared marginally better in the first ODI in Dunedin, bowling out a new-look New Zealand for 248, but the batsmen failed yet again, scoring 158.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor top-scored with 58, but the next-highest was Raymond Price’s unbeaten 26 at No 10.
During New Zealand’s tour of the country last year, the hosts pulled off a surprise win in the dead-rubber third ODI in Bulawayo, successfully chasing down 329 in a thrilling climax.
A victory in Whangarei will give New Zealand the series, with one match to go, but Mills said the hosts are capable of bouncing back to keep the series alive.
“It’s a must-win game for them and they did that up in the series in Zimbabwe as well — they progressively got better,” Mills said. “It’s really important we stay on our game in Whangarei because there’s no doubt they will be a lot stronger and mentally prepared for it.”