Harare: Kane Williamson struck a fluent 90 and Mitchell McClenaghan picked up three wickets to help New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by 38 runs in the third One-Day International at the Harare Sports Club here on Friday and clinch the series 2-1.
Put in to bat, the visitors scored 273/6 in 50 overs; in reply Zimbabwe were bowled out for 235 in 47.4 overs.
Chasing a challenging score of 273, the hosts got off to a good start scoring at a healthy run rate. Openers Hamilton Masakadza (57) and Chamu Chibhabha (32) took the hosts close to the 100-run mark but their 97-run partnership halted in the 23rd over.
Some tight bowling by the visitors forced Zimbabwe to commit errors while attempting big shots and they continued to lose wickets.
The home side's hopes lifted again when Sean Williams and Craig Ervine put on 45 runs for the fourth wicket. But Ervine's dismissal in the 33rd over when he backed up too far only for bowler Ben Wheeler to effect a direct hit sent Zimbabwe towards a freefall.
McClenaghan (3/36) and Sodhi (2/47) were the pick of the New Zealand bowlers.
Earlier in the innings, New Zealand got off to a modest start, with their first fifty runs coming off 76 balls - their second slowest in ODIs against Zimbabwe since 2001.
Although the Kiwis lost openers, Williamson along with Grant Elliott, helped New Zealand cross the 200-run mark. But their dismissals in successive overs nearly derailed the visitors.
Their scoring, however, received a leg-up through some late hitting from James Neesham and Nathan McCullum, who raised 50 runs in 4.1 overs for an unbroken seventh-wicket stand.
They pushed the visitors' score beyond 260, as New Zealand muscled 54 runs in the last five overs. Those strikes proved decisive in the end.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 273/6 in 50 overs (Williamson 90, Guptill 42, Cremer 3/44) vs Zimbabwe 235 in 47.4 overs (Williams 63, Masakadza 57, McClenaghan 3/36).