Kane Williamson’s tenure as stand-in captain for the tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa got off to a woeful start in Harare as he watched his hosts chase down a target of 304 in the first ODI.
Williamson is standing in for a weary Brendon McCullum, who is being rested, along with fast bowler Tim Southee, for the tour, while Trent Boult, Corey Anderson and Mitchell Santner are unavailable due to injuries.
Ross Taylor scored an unbeaten 112 in New Zealand’s innings of 303-4 but Craig Ervine and Hamilton Masakadza set up Zimbabwe’s second-highest successful ODI chase of all time to reach the target with seven wickets and an over to spare.
Masakadza laid the foundation with 84, before Ervine counter-punched with an unbeaten innings of 130 off 108.
They had been given a solid base by the openers. Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha put on 74 for the first wicke tin 15 overs, when Chibhabha was out for 42 off 48 balls.
The defeat continues a disappointing form-line for New Zealand since they reached the World Cup final in March – their only other ODI series since then was a 3-2 loss to England. New Zealand’s batting was solid in Harare but Taylor said the fielding was sub-standard, although he said Zimbabwe’s batsmen had played “outstandingly well” to chase down the target.
Playing their first ODI against New Zealand in over three years, Zimbabwe had won two of their previous 25 completed matches. The next match is on Tuesday.