Worker's half-century on international debut powers team to 198/5 before bowlers restrict host to 118/8 in only T20I
A muscular half-century on international debut from George Worker helped New Zealand end the Harare leg of its African tour on Sunday (August 9) with an 80-run win over Zimbabwe in the one-off Twenty20 International.
Worker hit three fours and four sixes in his 38-ball 62 that laid the foundation for New Zealand's 198 for 5 after being put in.
Zimbabwe, which showed the stomach for a fight in the preceding One-Day International series, which it lost 1-2, was never in the hunt as one batsman after another got out to poor strokes with pressure of the asking rate telling on them.
Zimbabwe eventually finished with 118 for 8, with Craig Ervine's 42 reducing the margin of defeat that looked set to be much bigger at one stage.
Adam Milne impressed in his first international outing since the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to finish with figures of 2 for 10 off his four overs, while Mitchell McClenaghan, Milne’s new-ball partner, also contributed, ending with 2 for 33.
The start to the match was exhilarating, as Kane Williamson's sublime touch gave New Zealand three boundaries, all inside-out over cover, in the first over off Prosper Utseya, even as Martin Guptill played himself in under bright sunshine at the Harare Sports Club.
Williamson should have been run out for 18 when he was caught short of the crease, but the lack of an appeal resulted in a reprieve. Luckily for Zimbabwe it didn’t prove costly, as Williamson, who made 20, was brilliantly caught by Ervine at deep square-leg off Taurai Muzarabani, the medium pacer.
Worker, who strode in at No. 3, looked tentative initially and took his time to settle in, but the effervescence of Guptill, who upped the ante after Williamson's downfall, allowed New Zealand to chug along at a healthy rate.
Worker found his arc soon enough as he biffed Chamu Chibhabha over deep square-leg for a big six off the 12th delivery he faced to kickstart the party. He followed that up with a couple of beefy strokes through the off side as New Zealand continued to plunder runs.
The brutality of Worker’s stroke play meant that even Guptill’s dismissal for a well-made 33 went somewhat unnoticed. Worker then dominated during the course of a 51-run stand with Grant Elliott, whose contribution was eight. Worker eventually fell bowled by Sean Williams, his knock including three fours and four sixes.
Luke Ronchi (29), Colin Munro (23 not out) and Nathan McCullum (18 not out) then lent the final flourish as New Zealand made 101 runs in the last eight overs.
Zimbabwe came out aggressively, but lost its way soon enough. Hamilton Masakadza was found out as he was done in by Milne's extra pace in the third over. Four balls later, James Neesham bowled Chibhabha and the procession began.
Ervine tried to plug the holes by picking the occasional boundary, but the damage continued and Zimbabwe slipped to 34 for 4 in seven overs with Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura also back in the pavilion. Thereafter, Ervine’s fighting effort gave a festive Sunday crowd something to cheer about.
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