The BLACKCAPS have moved into Tuesday's Videocon Triangular Series final after beating Zimbabwe last night in a match that was far closer than anticipated.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the New Zealanders lost the wicket of in the first over. When they reached 67 for the loss of four wickets, a total the size of the one they posted in the first match became increasingly unlikely.
Batting at number three, held the innings together as his partners came and went. After being dropped early, Astle was finally dismissed for 61. His runs were scored off 81 deliveries, the same number faced by Scott Styris, who made a valuable 63.
When Daniel Vettori entered the crease at seven for 149, it looked as though the BLACKCAPS may struggle to reach 200. But a quick-fire 47 by Vettori saw his team reach a respectable 238, before they were all out in the 50th over.
The Zimbabwe reply again started badly, losing their first two wickets for just five runs. At six for 93, the New Zealanders were well on top and in sight of another convincing victory.
But a seventh wicket stand of aggressive batting between Andy Blignaut (50 off 47) and Charles Coventry (35 off 21) took the score to 156 before Coventry's dismissal. The home team was finally all out in the 49th over for 211, giving the BLACKCAPS the victory by 27 runs.
Shane Bond was the main destroyer for New Zealand, taking four for 17 off eight overs. Jeetan Patel took his first international scalp when he had Stuart Carlyle out LBW for 30.
The BLACKCAPS face India at Harare on Friday night in a dress rehearsal of Tuesday's final.