Last chance for Zimbabwe to show fight
Match factsFebruary 14, 2012
Start time 1900 (0600 GMT)
With most people's attention already shifted towards New Zealand's home series against South Africa, which promises to be their real test of the summer, the final Twenty20 against Zimbabwe at Hamilton seems like a mere formality. Zimbabwe have barely put up a fight through the tour, a disappointment considering how competitive they were when they hosted New Zealand last year. Their bowlers have struggled to contain a rampaging Martin Guptill, who has five consecutive half-centuries in this series, and a set of newcomers, who're auditioning for the bigger challenge of the summer.
Zimbabwe's batsmen put up their best performance of the tour during the first Twenty20, at Eden Park. They may not have done full justice to the batting surface, putting up a par score of 159, but they showed some signs of improvement, at least in terms of staging partnerships. Unfortunately, the bowlers failed to back them up, despite getting two early wickets. They have one last chance to rectify their errors and possibly catch New Zealand off guard.
New Zealand WWWLW (most recent first)
In the spotlightNot many players get to play in cities they share a name with. Hamilton Masakadza will play his first international match at Hamilton's Seddon Park. Having flopped in the Test and ODIs, he found some form in Auckland, where he top scored for Zimbabwe with 53. He also became the first Zimbabwe opener to breach double figures in the series. He will need to bring his experience into play one more time.
With a run-up and action similar to Daniel Vettori's, Roneel Hira impressed in Auckland with his 1 for 22 in four overs. He could have had another wicket had Brendon McCullum not fluffed a stumping chance against Masakadza. He was the joint-leading wicket-taker in the 2011-12 HRV Cup Twenty20 with 14 wickets, and his performance will only increase the competition for the spinner's slot, with fellow newcomer Tarun Nethula also in the mix.
Guptill is likely to be rested for the final match and that should give Zimbabwe some respite. Jacob Oram will continue to sit on the bench. If Guptill sits out, it could leave space for an extra bowler. New Zealand might want to promote Colin de Grandhomme, considering he didn't face a ball at Eden Park.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Colin de Grandhomme, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 James Franklin, 6 Nathan McCullum, 7 Kyle Mills, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Roneel Hira, 11 Michael Bates
Zimbabwe could retain their XI from the previous game.
Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Brendan Taylor, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Forster Mutizwa, 4 Tatenda Taibu, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Shingi Masakadza, 8 Keegan Meth 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Ray Price, 11 Kyle Jarvis
Stats and trivia
- New Zealand have an unbeaten record in the three Twenty20s they've played at Seddon Park.
- It's been 11 years since Zimbabwe have won an international match in New Zealand. Since 1992, they've won a total of four international games in the country.
Quotes"We need to win again and we need to win well, in the fashion we've been winning so far in the series, with that emphatic nature and making sure that we don't reduce our standard in that final game."
Brendon McCullum is not taking the final game lightly
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo