Craig Ervine scored an unbeaten © Getty Images
Craig Ervine scored an unbeaten © Getty Images

Zimbabwe were in a close encounter with New Zealand and it looked like they would throw away another good opportunity at victory, but they triumphed in the end by a mere margin of six balls to spare. Zimbabwe’s innings began quite positively with both the openers, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha playing good smart cricket and put on a 74-run first wicket partnership. They played the opening bowlers, Mitchell McClenaghan and Matt Henry, with surprising ease. Chibhabha was the first to depart after scoring a good 48-ball 42. Masakadza kept Zimbabwe in the game with sensible cricketing shots. LIVE BLOG: Zimbabwe vs New Zealand 2015, 1st ODI at Harare

The good thing was that the Zimbabweans didn’t go for extravagant shots and just stuck to their basics. After Chibhabha, Craig Ervine came to the crease and he was even better. Together with Masakadza he piled on the runs as Kane Williamson, the stand-in skipper for New Zealand, in place of a rested Brendon McCullum, ran out of ideas. ALSO READ: New Zealand play as Aotearoa in honour of Maori heritage

Nathan McCullum, who made the first breakthrough in form of Chibhabha was also responsible for breaking a 120-run partnership between Masakadza and Ervine. He bowled with smart variations and got Masakadza to edge one to the keeper on 84. Ervine continued the good job with the bat and kept the Kiwi bowlers under continuous pressure. Zimbabwe vs New Zealand 2015, Live Cricket Score: 1st ODI at Harare

Unfortunately for Zimbabwe however, Elton Chigumbura didn’t manage to get himself in and wasted too many balls. Still, Ervine kept the show going for Zimbabwe and soaked up as much pressure as possible with timely fours and sixes. Just when Chigumbura seemed to be coming into his own, he holed out to long off for a 31-ball 26 and became McCullum’s third victim.

Ervine was then joined by Sean Williams at the crease. Perhaps the over that firmly set the game in New Zealand’s favour was one from Jimmy Neesham in the 45th over, where he bowled successive yorkers and let the batsmen score just two of the over. Ervine still had an outside chance of taking his side home.

He went on to score his maiden ODI hundred but the job was not quite over at that point. In the final three overs, Zimbabwe required 34 and Ervine got the job done! He retained his cool till the very end and was supported well by Sean Williams who kept finding the strike-rotating singles and Ervine did the rest. This win will mean a lot to the African nation.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 303 for 4 in 50 overs (Kane Williamson 97, Ross Taylor 112*; Tinashe Panyangara 2 for 50) lost to Zimbabwe 304 for 3 in 49 overs (Hamilton Masakadza 84, Craig Ervine 130*; Nathan McCullum 3 for 62) by seven wickets.

FULL SCORECARD

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)