New Zealand secured a dramatic five-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the final Twenty20 international Tuesday to condemn the visitors to a winless tour.
Kane Williamson (20) scored 14 runs in the final over to seal the win with just two balls to spare after half centuries from openers James Franklin (60) and Rob Nicol (56).
The result capped a dismal tour for Zimbabwe, who proved competitive in two T20 matches but were outclassed by New Zealand in a one-off Test and three one-day internationals.
The tourists saved their best performance for the final match, choosing to bat after winning the toss and scoring 200 for two, their best ever T20 score, at Hamilton's Seddon Park.
Celebration time: New Zealand team celebrate the fall of a Zimbabwean during the final T20 international. Pic/AFP
Determined to finally break the shackles, opener Hamilton Masakadza (62) and captain Brendan Taylor (75) anchored the innings but fell just short after Williamson, in only his third T20 international, steered the Black Caps home.
"Obviously it's bitterly disappointing but I think our boys can hold our heads high," Taylor said.
"If we're going get that type of total we're going to be a lot more competitive in the future."
Taylor said he was pleased not to lose early wickets as Hamilton Masakadza and Stuart Matsikenyeri made a 76-run opening partnership, the first time the tourists' openers have managed a stand exceeding 50 runs in the entire tour.
Zimbabwe's bowlers also produced a much improved performance, with Kyle Jarvis taking two wickets in two balls in the penultimate over and Elton Chingumbura finishing with figures of two for 23.
In contrast, Michael Bates and Ronnie Hira were the only wicket takers for New Zealand but both proved expensive, with Bates leaking 47 runs off four overs and Hira going for 31 off three.
New Zealand's batting proved too strong as makeshift opener Franklin, promoted up the order after the in-form Martin Guptill was rested, produced a man-of-the-match display.
New Zealand began their run chase tentatively, taking seven overs to bring up 50.
But the Black Caps then stepped up the pace and plundered 49 runs from the next three overs before Chigumbura dismissed Nicol for 56 with his first ball to break the 103-run partnership.
Franklin was growing in confidence and looking threatening before falling to a superb run out from Keegan Meth, who hit the stumps side-on from the boundary as the batsman scrambled for a second run.
Chigumbura slowed New Zealand's momentum further when he skittled Colin de Grandhomme for eight, leaving the home side needing 41 off 20 balls.
The tourists looked set for an upset win when Jarvis dismissed New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and his brother Nathan to bring debutant Andrew Ellis to the crease with the final over looming.
But Williamson secured the strike and hit a four off the second ball of Shingi Masakadza's over, following up with a six then ensuring victory with another boundary.
New Zealand will face a tougher challenge against the touring South Africans this week, with the first T20 scheduled for Wellington on Friday.
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