Bowlers set the tone for the win - Guptill, Latham
New Zealand's openers, Martin Guptill and Tom Latham, who struck centuries to guide the side to a ten-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the second ODI, heaped praise on the side's bowlers, saying the efforts with the ball and in the field had set the tone for the match.
Going 0-1 into the second game of the three-match series, New Zealand's bowlers found assistance from the pitch to leave Zimbabwe in trouble at 68 for 5 after the hosts had opted to bat. Sikandar Raza's unbeaten 100 and his partnerships with the lower order hauled Zimbabwe to 235, before Guptill and Latham chased it down within 43 overs. Their 236-run opening partnership was New Zealand's biggest for the wicket in an ODI chase.
"We came in today wanting to win. We weren't good enough in the last game and we really stepped it up today," Guptill said. "The way we bowled and fielded as a unit is what we want to be in every game. That set the tone for the day, and Tommy and I had a great partnership to finish it off."
Latham praised the new-ball bowlers for their "intimidating" start and also said that the side's fielding had improved after a poor effort in the first ODI.
"I think the way we started at the top, I think the boys with the new ball set the tone. I think they were hard, intimidating and getting a wicket in the second over (sic) was nice. We did really well to get into that position," Latham said. "They played well towards the end of the innings but I think it showed what sort of wicket it was. The fielding was a lot better today and was close to where we usually are."
Latham was relieved at notching up his maiden ODI century in his 28th match, and credited Guptill for guiding him through the innings. Latham admitted that the first ten overs of the innings were challenging for the pair but was satisfied that once they established a scoring rate of around five an over, they maintained control over the chase.
"It was nice to finally get that monkey off the back," Latham said. "Played a few ODIs and hit one fifty, so it was nice to get a few runs today and Guptill was a big influence in keeping me level-headed. I was trying to knock it off ten runs at a time and it was nice to get a ten-wicket win.
"I think we withstood a little bit of pressure at the start. We both found it hard to hit a boundary in the first ten overs but once we got through the first ten overs, we managed to rotate the strike nicely and then the boundaries started to come. We managed to get the rate up to five and keep it there the whole time, and it was a fantastic partnership. "
Guptill also praised Raza, whose third ODI century ensured Zimbabwe had a challenging total to defend.
"In a way, it's [Zimbabwe's total] a little frustrating. But it's cricket," Guptill said. "Raza did bat very well to get his hundred there. That happens. We were able to restrict them to 230. They could have got away on us but I thought we bowled and fielded really well as a unit and we were able to restrict them to under 250."
The series decider will be played in Harare on August 7.