Nicol leaves Zimbabwe in a pickle
Rob Nicol struck a majestic 146 as New Zealand took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the one-day international series against Zimbabwe.
Nicol, playing in his fifth 50-over game, hit 10 fours and six sixes in a belligerent knock which helped the Black Caps to an astonishing total of 372 for six and, in the end, a 141-run success at Whangarei.
In reply, the tourists got off to the worst possible start as they were reduced to 17 for three, which soon turned to 65 for five.
However, some lower-order resistance - which included half-centuries from Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura - reduced the margin of defeat.
After being put in by Zimbabwe, the hosts got off to a flying start as Nicol and Martin Guptill found the rope frequently.
It was the latter who was more fluent in the early overs, though Nicol signalled his intent in the 16th with a huge six over square-leg which ended up in the neighbouring rugby ground.
Guptill eventually fell for an 80-ball 77 with the score on 131, the powerful opener picking out Shingi Masakadza in the deep off Ray Price.
New Zealand opted to send in Jacob Oram at three in an attempt to keep the momentum - a move that paid huge dividends.
With the batting powerplay taken soon after his arrival, the left-hander produced a brutal knock of 59 from just 28 balls, including four enormous sixes over long-on.
The usually reliable Price came in for the most punishment, conceding 40 runs off three overs at one stage, a remarkable statistic given that just 27 came off his other seven.
Oram eventually fell to Hamilton Masakadza, allowing Brendon McCullum to score 20 in an 18-ball cameo.
After Kane Williamson departed for four, Nicol - who had played anchor for much of the innings - brought up his second ODI century, off 115 balls, with a scorching pull through midwicket.
He and Tom Latham then shared a brutal 92-run alliance, during which the boundary was cleared a further six times.
Both fell in the closing overs, but the damage was already done, with the Black Caps having amassed their third-highest one-day international total.
Zimbabwe’s chase was doomed from the start as they lost three wickets in the opening seven overs.
Hamilton Masakadza struck Tim Southee straight to point before Kyle Mills removed Stuart Matsikenyeri and had skipper Brendan Taylor caught behind.
Oram, who took 3-29, soon got rid of Regis Chakabva and Malcolm Waller as the tourists continued to falter.
Taibu and Chigumbura offered some resistance but, despite Prosper Utseya and Shingi Masakadza hitting 27 not out and 38 respectively, Zimbabwe were well beaten.