Whangarei, Feb 7: Rob Nicol scored 146 runs and veteran allrounder Jacob Oram added three wickets to a dashing half century as New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by 141 runs in the second limited-overs international Monday.
Nicol brought up his second century from only five one-day international appearances and the fifth-highest innings by a New Zealander in 50-overs matches, batting until the 49th over to anchor New Zealand's innings of 372-6.
The total was New Zealand's third-highest in one-day internationals after its 402-2 against Ireland in 2008 and 397-5 against Zimbabwe in 2005.
Oram chipped in 59 from 28 balls, batting at his highest position in the New Zealand order in 10 years, then took 3-29 as Zimbabwe was held to 231-8 in reply.
New Zealand now leads the three-match series 2-0.
"It was a much improved performance on what we put out in the first match (which New Zealand won by 90 runs)," captain Brendon McCullum said.
"To score 370 was always going to be a big ask for Zimbabwe and the boys bowled very well at the start of the innings, which was pleasing."
Zimbabwe had little chance of matching New Zealand's total when Kyle Mills and Tim Southee shared three wickets to knock the tourists' top order. Southee removed Hamilton Masakadza and Mills dismissed Stuart Matsikenyeri and captain Brendan Taylor to leave Zimbabwe 17-3 in the seventh over.
Elton Chigumbura made 63 from 69 balls and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu 50 from 76 balls in an 80-run, sixth wicket partnership which added some solidity to the Zimbabwe total. Shingirai Masakadza's 38 and Prosper Utseya's 27 not out ensured Zimbabwe batted through its 50 overs.
New Zealand's massive total was always unreachable. Nicol provided the framework around which the innings was built, batting for 199 minutes, facing 134 balls and hitting 10 fours and two sixes.
He was happy at first to be the foil for his opening partner Martin Guptill, who scored 77 of their first wicket partnership of 131, and for Oram, with whom he put on 77 for the second wicket, of which Oram scored 59.
But he then became the driver of the innings, forcing the run-rate, particularly in a 101-run partnership for the sixth wicket with 19-year-old Tom Latham who scored 48 from 28 balls. The pair helped New Zealand put on 86 in the last five overs.
Their scoring was helped by some wayward bowling by Zimbabwe and poor fielding which saw the tourists drop five catches.
"It's very disappointing but we were beaten again by a much better team," Zimbabwe captain Taylor said. "I just hope that my guys had the chance to watch how the Black Caps go about their business and try to replicate that, not so much in the skill department, but in their approach and their body language."
The start of Monday's match was delayed by 35 minutes by rain but no overs were lost and Nicol and Guptill made a circumspect beginning as they studied the pace of the pitch at Cobham Oval which was hosting a one-day international for the first time.
Guptill fell to the left-armer Ray Price in the 24th over when he was 77 and New Zealand was 131, giving the veteran of 101 matches his first one-day international wicket against New Zealand.
New Zealand then promoted Oram in the order, to bat at No. 3 for the first time in more than a decade and to take advantage of a batting powerplay while Zimbabwe's spinners were operating.
The tactic paid off handsomely as Oram smashed five fours and three sixes on his way to a half century from 23 balls. New Zealand took 44 runs from the powerplay, of which Oram scored 34.
The innings then belonged to Nicol who compiled the fifth highest total by a New Zealander in a one-day international after Lou Vincent's 172, Glenn Turner's 171, Brendon McCullum's 166 and James Marshall's 161.