The BLACKCAPS have secured their spot in the Super 8 section of the ICC World Twenty20 after beating Zimbabwe by a Duckwork/Lewis calculated seven runs in a rain affected match at Guyana National Stadium in the West Indies.
Daniel Vettori won the toss and elected to bowl with the inclement weather influencing his decision and it proved to be the right one.
Zimbabwe got off to a steady start, taking 28 off the first four overs but the wicket Tatenda Taibu for 21 triggered a collapse that saw them bundled out for 84 in just 15.1 overs.
It was Southee who got the initial breakthrough with an impressive out field throw by Jacob Oram leading to the run out of fellow opener Hamilton Masakadza for 20, but it was the slow bowlers who did the damage.
Nathan McCullum took three for 16, winning him his second consecutive man of the match award, while spinning partner Daniel Vettori captured two for ten.
Scott Styris picked up three cheap wickets late in the innings to finish with the impressive figures of three for five off two overs as the Zimbabwean tail offered little resistance.
Speaking after the game Vettori said, “We had confidence in the middle stages and it’s something we’ve done pretty well for a number of Twenty20 games and we were pleased again today.
“After a tough start where Zimbabwe batted really well, we fought back in those middle stages, particularly Nathan McCullum and Scott Styris”
In reply, the BLACKCAPS lost Jesse Ryder in the third over for two, leaving Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill to ensure the BLACKCAPS were ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis calculation with rain looking imminent.
When McCullum scooped Prosper Utseya over the wicket keepers head in the fifth over he not only put the BLACKCAPS ahead but became the first player to score 1000 runs in Twenty20 internationals.
The pair worked the ball around for a few overs, eking their way to 36 off 8.1 overs when the heavens opened and play was stopped handing the BLACKCAPS the victory.
The win sees them safely through to the Super 8 section of the ICC World Twenty20 and travelling nicely after winning their warm up matches against Ireland and the West Indies before taking care of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe to go through the group stage unbeaten.
Vettori hinted that they are likely to stick with the same playing XI as the they head into the business end of the tournament.
“We’ve played the same team in both games and are pretty comfortable with the way most guys are performing,” said Vettori. “We know we are coming up against some tough opposition in probably South Africa first up. They play a different style of game to Zimbabwe so we’ve got to adapt and be ready and hopefully we’ve got the team to do that.”
“Having a deep batting order and that ability to get maybe six or seven bowlers in your line up is the real key because it can’t be everyone’s day. In the 20 over game you have the luxury to take a few risks and if you have a long batting order you can make that happen,” he concluded.
The BLACKCAPS go through as "B2" despite topping thier group an will play either South Africa or India on Friday 5:30am (NZ time).