BRENDAN Taylor led the way with an unbeaten 87 as Zimbabwe senior players finally came to the party with a comfortable eight– wicket win in their second warm–up match against the Northern Districts XI, at the Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne, New Zealand, yesterday.
Responding to the Northern Districts XI’s 266 for six, the Zimbabwe openers Chamu Chibhabha (62) and Sikandar Raza (63) shared an opening stand worth 133 to set the touring side on their way to a convincing win.
Raza’s second half century came in just 53 balls and included five boundaries and two sixes while Chibhabha made a strong case for a slot at the top of the order in the World Cup.
After the pair’s dismissal in a space of three overs Taylor, whose 87 came off just 72 balls led Zimbabwe over the line after an unbroken 138-run stand with Hamilton Masakadza missing out in the first match, Masakadza was in to form as he finished unbeaten on a run-a-ball 41 as Zimbabwe sealed a comfortable win in the 41st over for the loss of only two wickets.
Zimbabwe has tended to do well in crucial matches when key players take more responsibility by leading from the front and they will be pleased to see Masakadza and Taylor getting some confidence boosting runs.
Earlier, Zimbabwe’s bowling department had put on an all-round display to restrict the hosts to a gettable target.
With seamers Tinashe Panyangara and Tawanda Mupariwa bowling just 11 overs between them, Zimbabwe’s spinners did the bulk of the work with Sean Williams, Prosper Utseya, Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Raza Butt claiming a wicket each.
However, Williams was the most economical spinner on display with figures of one wicket for 43 runs in nine overs.
Zimbabwe plays against the same opponents in the last unofficial warm–up game on Friday before their official warm–up games against Sri Lanka and New Zealand starting on Monday.