New Zealand played the first T20 of their tour to Zimbabwe today. Earlier this year Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh in their one off test and thee matches to two in their ODI series. Then they were hammered by Pakistan in all formats. New Zealand should, of course, be rather closer to Pakistan than Bangladesh, but one can never be sure with teams that don’t play a lot. Their performance today, however, suggests that they are very much the stronger side.
New Zealand won the toss and bowled on a pitch that looked to have something in it for the quicks. Zimbabwe never really got going, and lost wickets at regular intervals. They ended up limping to 123-8, a possibly competitive total in the FLT20, but not so much in an international. Such is the nature of T20s though, that no chase is certain – Ask England, who chased 126 with five overs and ten wickets remaining one day, only to collapse to 88 all out chasing 114 two days later. New Zealand, helped by some poor Zimbabwean fielding, emulated the former performance. Zimbabwe dropped two catches after the powerplay ended. It probably didn’t change the result, but Brendan McCullum in paricular set about making Zimbabwe pay for their sloppiness. He scored 81 not out off 54 deliveries with five fours and six sixes. New Zealand won by ten wickets with 6.3 overs to spare.
Zimbabwe have been out of the international fold for a while, but they must do better than that. Still, it was only a T20 and as we saw with England one merciless thrashing does not a series win. The second and final T20 is on Monday and Zimbabwe could certainly bounce back.
I wonder how many in NZ actually watched a match that started around 01.00 Kiwi time. The All Blacks play the Wallabies tonight (New Zealand time, tomorrow morning UK and US time) and I suspect it’s receiving slightly higher billing in the antipodes. The All Blacks need to win because a France v Australia final would be too much.