Zimbabwe finally asked serious questions of the BLACKCAPS who found the answers just in time in the second Twenty20 international at Hamilton tonight.
Following a series of underwhelming performances through the test and one-day series the tourists discovered their mojo to score a Zimbabwe Twenty20 record 200 for two after opting to bat first at Seddon Park.
New Zealand squeezed home with five wickets and two balls to spare thanks to a brilliant cameo from Kane Williamson which enabled them to win the series 2-0.
Williamson swatted 20 not out off five balls, with one six and three fours, after the hosts found themselves needing 27 runs off the last two overs.
By the time Williamson strode to the middle the equation was 21 off nine balls, not that he looked unduly anxious before teeing off to telling effect.
Fourteen runs were still needed when seamer Shingirai Masakdaza began the final over and after Andrew Ellis took a single off the first ball the stage was left to Williamson, who promptly hit the bowler over extra cover for four, cleared the boundary over long on and sealed the win by depositing the ball to the fence again behind point.
Williamson’s brief fireworks followed a fine opening stand of 103 between Rob Nicol and James Franklin.
Nicol made 56 off 37, with four fours and as many sixes, while left-hander Franklin showed his hitting power to make 60 off 37, highlighted by five sixes and three fours.
Skipper Brendon McCullum then contributed 38 off 24 but his dismissal in the 19th over left the outcome in the balance before Williamson settled the issue.
The Zimbabwe innings was a breath of fresh air after their earlier disappointments on tour, powerful half-centuries to captain Brendan Taylor and opener Hamilton Masakadza propelling them past their previous best Twenty20 total of 186 for seven scored against South Africa.
They were aggressive from the outset, with Masakadza and Stuart Matsikenyeri unsettling the bowling attack as they planted the foot to put on an opening stand of 76 in seven overs.
They both scored freely until Matsikenyeri was caught at long off for a three-six two-four 32 off 19 balls, but Zimbabwe did not relent as Masakadza and Taylor maintained the pressure.
The New Zealanders were guilty of a few fielding lapses while their bowlers delivered too many full tosses, which allowed these two to free their arms.
Masakadza, who scored 53 in his team’s opening Twenty20 loss at Auckland, again found his touch to strike 62 off 42 balls, with four sixes and three fours, before left-arm quick Michael Bates had him caught at long on in the 14th over.
Masakadza had reached his 50 off only 26 balls, the quickest in his country’s Twenty20 history when he struck debutant Andrew Ellis over mid wicket.
Once he went Taylor upped the ante with Elton Chigumbura as he hurried to his fourth Twenty20 international half-century off only 32 balls before finishing with a career best 75 not out 43 with three sixes and six fours.
Chigumbura ensured all of the top order enjoyed their stays as he ended unbeaten on 29 off 16 with five fours.
Brendon McCullum was a busy man marshalling his troops as he used eight bowlers and made 15 bowling changes in a vain bid to stem the flow.