New Zealand ease into final
New Zealand 238 (Styris 63, Astle 61) beat Zimbabwe 211 (Blignaut 50, Bond 4-17) by 27 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
As far as the result goes, a defeat by 27 runs, Zimbabwe lost their second clash of the Videocon Cup against New Zealand with honour, after two previous and humiliating defeats. It was not quite as impressive as it looked, though: it was clear from early in the Zimbabwe innings that they had little chance of victory, but a courageous flurry from the lower middle-order ensured that the margin of defeat was small.
Stephen Fleming decided to bat in good conditions, but Lou Vincent followed his 172 in the previous match with a duck, caught at the wicket off an away swinger from Heath Streak. Against much improved bowling and fielding from the home side, Nathan Astle then had to hold the top order together after Fleming departed for 23.
New Zealand were 67 for 4 before Scott Styris joined Astle to share a useful 62-run partnership. Astle (61) then edged an attempted slash outside the off stump and was well caught by Tatenda Taibu standing up. Wickets tumbled after that. Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum soon followed, all three wickets going to the offspinning allrounder Gavin Ewing, and New Zealand were in trouble at 149 for 7.
However, Daniel Vettori came in to partner the steadfast Styris and the two swung the match back in New Zealand's favour. They showed sensible aggression against a Zimbabwe attack that was disciplined, apart from the inconsistent Andy Blignaut. They put on 79 at five an over, a New Zealand record for the eighth wicket, before both fell in the 48th over, to Blignaut: Vettori for a run-a-ball 47 and Styris for 63 from 81 balls. Blignaut finished with the rather flattering figures of 4 for 46, while Ewing took 3 for 31.
Zimbabwe, chasing 239 to win, suffered another bad start. After eight overs they were 8 for 2, which said it all. Brendan Taylor (1 from 20 balls) and the debutant Chamu Chibhabha (0) were both caught at the wicket, but things were looking up when Vusi Sibanda, who so often wastes his talent, played himself in and was looking very good until he was carelessly run out for 21, attempting an unlikely second run to Jacob Oram.
Stuart Carlisle, who opened the innings, was playing solidly, intent on holding the batting together, though he was beaten regularly early in his innings. He was in danger of being arrested for loitering as he took all of 81 balls to score 30 runs, and the required run rate had soared to nine an over by the time he played on. He fell to Jeetan Patel who picked up his first international wicket.
Heath Streak drove Vettori for six, but two balls later was beaten and stumped. At 93 for 6, Zimbabwe were now doomed to another defeat, even with Andy Blignaut walking to the crease. After their recent batting disasters, they lacked the confidence even to tackle their target seriously.
Charles Coventry made an aggressive gesture, of sorts, by hitting Patel for two successive sixes, and actually dominated a stand of 63 in seven overs with Blignaut before falling for 35 off 21 balls. Blignaut went on to reach 50 from 45 balls, and it was good entertainment, at least, for the small but long-suffering crowd, even if the competitive element had long since gone. Shane Bond took the last three wickets to finish with 4 for 17.
How they were out
Lou Vincent c Taibu b Streak 0 (0 for 1)
Played forward to a perfect outswinger, thin edge to the keeper
Stephen Fleming c Blignaut b Ireland 23 (39 for 2)
Played too early, chipped a simple catch to mid-on
Craig McMillan c Taylor b Blignaut 5 (60 for 3)
Tried to nudge a ball to third man but edged a low catch to slip
Hamish Marshall c Chibhabha b Ireland 7 (67 for 4)
Uppercut a short ball straight to third man
Nathan Astle c Taibu b Ewing 61 (129 for 5)
Slashed at a ball just outside off stump, top edge well taken by the keeper
Jacob Oram lbw b Ewing 5 (147 for 6)
Adjudged lbw by umpire Tiffin despite bottom edge off an attempted reverse-sweep - two balls after being wrongly reprieved for a low return catch
Brendon McCullum c and b Ewing 2 (149 for 7)
Too much bottom hand on the drive, straightforward return catch
Daniel Vettori c Taylor b Blignaut 47 (228 for 8)
Excellent running and diving catch near the cover boundary off a slash
Scott Styris b Blignaut 63 (230 for 9)
Big swing, inside edge and ball just clipped off bail
Shane Bond c Utseya b Blignaut 5 (238 all out)
Mistimed a drive, holed out at long-on
Brendan Taylor c McCullum b Bond 1 (4 for 1)
Half-hearted drive outside off stump, simple catch to keeper
Chamu Chibhabha c McCullum b Mills 0 (5 for 2)
Superb ball swung in then moved away, took edge of bat
Vusi Sibanda run out (Oram) 21 (37 for 3)
Attempted second run to deep square leg, fine throw
Tatenda Taibu b Vettori 16 (69 for 4)
Did not read arm ball, bowled trying to force through off side
Stuart Carlisle b Patel 30 (87 for 5)
Diagonal bat dab outside off stump, played on via inside edge
Heath Streak st McCullum b Vettori 18 (93 for 6)
Down pitch but totally deceived by faster arm ball
Charles Coventry c McCullum b Mills 35 (156 for 7)
Moved across stumps and tried to scoop ball to fine leg but top edge towards square leg taken by keeper
Gavin Ewing c Oram b Bond 12 (188 for 8)
Caught off slog near cow corner boundary
Andy Blignaut c Astle b Bond 50 (211 for 9)
Slash caught near third-man boundary
Blessing Mahwire c Oram b Bond 8 (211 all out)
Mistimed drive caught by long-on running in