New Zealand in Super Eights after easy rain-hit win
New Zealand 36 for 1 beat Zimbabwe 84 (McCullum 3-16, Styris 3-5) by seven runs by D/L method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe came into the tournament as one of the form teams after shocking Pakistan and Australia in the warm-ups, but they subsided to one of the lowest Twenty20 totals against New Zealand to become the first team to bow out of the competition. After making a sprightly start, they collapsed spectacularly - losing eight wickets for sixteen runs - to ease New Zealand's path to the Super Eights.
With rain hampering play in Guyana for the second day in a row, Zimbabwe's entire campaign in the West Indies lasted only 48.2 overs. Though the end was not as farcical as the near-darkness climax to the 2007 World Cup final, they was plenty of confusion before the match ended: after play was initially halted 8.1 overs into the chase, the teams came back onto the field an hour and a half later, expecting to play a couple of overs and complete the game. The players stood around for a few minutes before officials decided no more play was possible, declaring New Zealand winners.
On the field, Nathan McCullum was the hero for New Zealand again. After his all-round heroics against Sri Lanka on Friday, he swept through the Zimbabwe middle-order to collect his second successive Man-of-the-Match award. The quick offspinners of Scott Styris also scooped up three wickets in an over to hasten the end of the innings.
Such a limp finish didn't seem likely after Zimbabwe's openers defied New Zealand on a Providence pitch offering plenty of turn. At 57 for 1 in the seventh over, things were looking good for Zimbabwe, but a sharp bit of fielding from Jacob Oram and Gareth Hopkins started the slide. Hamilton Masakadza, one of the biggest-hitters in the Zimbabwe line-up, swung the ball towards deep square leg, where Oram moved quickly to his left and fired in a slightly wayward throw; Hopkins collected yards in front of the stumps and under-armed it to catch a diving Masakadza short.
There was no resistance after that: Andy Blignaut, playing his first international game in five years, had started confidently after being pushed up to No. 3, but made a mess of a slog sweep to be bowled by Vettori.
Nathan McCullum's next over dealt the killer blows, as he nipped out three wickets with his loopy offbreaks. Elton Chigumbura slammed the first ball straight to long-on, Charles Coventry punched loosely back to the bowler two balls later, and Craig Ervine didn't get near the ball after charging out of the crease to be stumped off the final delivery. Zimbabwe had sunk to 63 for 6 after nine.
After Timycen Maruma and Greg Lamb watchfully played out a few overs, Styris scalped three in four deliveries in the 13th over to erase Zimbabwe's hopes of reaching triple-digits. Vettori returned to finish off the innings by bowling Ray Price which meant Zimbabwe had been bowled out with nearly five overs to spare.
It was the second shortest completed innings in Twenty20s, and marked a total reversal of fortunes from the strong position they were placed in by Tatenda Taibu and Masakadza. Taibu dominated the partnership with a combination of nifty footwork and improvised strokeplay, such as the bent-knee carve over backward point for four off Shane Bond after making plenty of room. He fell slapping a short ball straight to square leg, but Masakadza kept the run-rate high with typically muscular strokes before his run-out sparked the slide that sent Zimbabwe out of the competition.
Their exit was confirmed by some sensible batting from New Zealand, who were always mindful of the Duckworth/Lewis machinations during their chase. Brendon McCullum powered a couple of midwicket fours and there was a trademark scoop for three, but the rest of runs were mostly made in calm singles.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo