George Worker made a half-century on international debut to set up a crushing win for New Zealand over Zimbabwe in the only T20. The left-hander formed two swift partnerships of 49 each with Martin Guptill and Luke Ronchi to boost New Zealand to 198 for 5 after the visitors were inserted on a flat pitch. Zimbabwe went down without any fight in the chase, managing 118 for 8 after being roughed up by Adam Milne and co.
The only time Zimbabwe seemed to compete was when their slow bowlers slowed down New Zealand’s charge briefly and picked up a couple of wickets in the middle overs. Barring that, the hosts were thoroughly outplayed with both bat and ball, with Sean Williams’ 3 for 28 from four overs of left-arm spin the only performance of note.
Kane Williamson had kickstarted the game with three successive fours off Prosper Utseya in the opening over before he went to a sharp take in the deep from Craig Ervine. Even as the No. 3 Worker struggled to get his first international run, Guptill kept the score moving with powerful pulls and drives.
Worker needed eight balls to get off the mark, but slowly found enough rhythm to hurt Zimbabwe. He swung four sixes over his preferred leg side, reaching his half-century off 33 deliveries with the fourth hit off Graeme Cremer.
Zimbabwe had got rid of Guptill and Grant Elliott but Worker pushed on till the 16th over, when he was bowled by Williams for 62 off 38.
Ronchi, Colin Munro and Nathan McCullum ensured New Zealand did not falter at the death, as they muscled boundaries to take 56 off the last four overs. Chris Mpofu had bowled a couple of tight overs, but had his figures spoiled in the last over of the innings when McCullum hit him for three successive boundaries.
An asking-rate of ten an over for a side with a highest successful T20 chase of 141 was always going to be difficult. Plus they had the extreme pace of Milne to contend with. Playing his first international match since the World Cup quarter-final against West Indies in March, Milne sped in smoothly, generating sharp bounce and taking out Hamilton Masakadza and Regis Chakabva with shortish deliveries.
Chamu Chibhabha heaved and missed James Neesham’s first delivery and a Mitchell McClenaghan lifter took care of Sikandar Raza. When Elton Chigumbura lifted McCullum to long-on, Zimbabwe had been reduced to 34 for 4 from seven overs.
Ervine was put down first ball by Ronchi off Milne, who later pinged the hapless batsman on the back of the helmet. Ervine stuck around to make 42, but he also consumed 46 deliveries. No one else made more than 16.