HARARE: Openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham both struck centuries as New Zealand crushed Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in the second one-day international on Tuesday to set up a series decider.
Chasing 236 to level the three-match series at Harare Sports Club, Guptill finished unbeaten on 116 while Latham was 110 not out as New Zealand achieved the target with almost eight overs to spare.
The pair set a new record for the highest successful chase in an ODI without losing a wicket, bettering the 231 that Sri Lanka managed in a 10-wicket win over England in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final, as they ensured that New Zealand bounced back from Sunday's shock seven-wicket defeat, in convincing fashion.
“It's great to have a performance like this in contrast to the one that we had in the last game. You can see a lot of learning there,” captain Kane Williamson said.
Zimbabwe were left to wonder whether they had made the right call at the toss, when Elton Chigumbura went against conventional wisdom and elected to bat first.
The decision backfired when the hosts crumbled in the face of some aggressive New Zealand bowling, losing their top five inside the first 18 overs.
While Grant Elliott used the swing on offer to dismiss Craig Ervine and Chigumbura, legspinner Ish Sodhi picked up his first wickets in ODI cricket on his way to figures of 3 for 38.
“I thought it was a good wicket to bat on, it's just that we didn't execute well,” said Chigumbura.
Zimbabwe were grateful to Sikandar Raza Butt for hauling them to a vaguely respectable score, with his 100 not out rescuing the home side from 68 for five and then 146 for eight.
He rebuilt the innings with a 60-run stand for the sixth wicket with Sean Williams, and an 89-run stand for the ninth wicket with Tinashe Panyangara, who made a career-best 33.
Raza enjoyed some fortune when he was dropped on 67, and reached his third ODI hundred off the penultimate delivery of the innings.
Zimbabwe needed early wickets if they were going to challenge, but the seamers lacked control up front and Guptill and Latham were allowed to settle.
The pair were never troubled as they set a new record for an ODI partnership in Zimbabwe, eclipsing the 228 put on by Pakistan's Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez in 2011.
While Guptill's century was his eighth in ODIs, Latham registered his maiden hundred in the format.
The series decider will take place at the same venue on Friday.