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Nicol to the fore as Black Caps cruise

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Martin Guptill

Martin Guptill flicks through leg en route to 70 in Dunedin. His innings helped New Zealand to 248, a total that proved well beyond Zimbabwe

Rob Nicol picked up four wickets to help a new-look New Zealand ease to a 90-run win over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international of three in Dunedin.

Nicol, an opening batsman and part-time off-spinner, was dismissed for a duck in the first over of the match as the hosts, who handed ODI debuts to three players, posted a modest total of 248 all out, having been invited to bat first on a green-tinged wicket offering appreciable seam movement. Martin Guptill’s 66-ball 70 was the only score of note.

Zimbabwe’s chase started badly, however, and their hopes soon evaporated once skipper Brendan Taylor, comfortably his side’s top scorer with 58, became the first victim for Nicol, who finished with 4-19 from 4.1 overs.

Seamer Kyle Mills returned 3-26 for the Black Caps, who will now hope to secure a series win with victory in the second ODI in Whangarei, which takes place on Monday.

A New Zealand win initially appeared in doubt this morning as Zimbabwe’s new-ball pairing of Keegan Meth and Kyle Jarvis each struck in their opening overs.

Meth had Nicol caught by Taylor at slip, while Jarvis trapped Brendon McCullum lbw with one that nipped back sharply.

A partnership of 88 between Guptill, who excelled through the off side, and Kane Williamson steadied New Zealand, although the former did receive a let-off on seven when he was dropped by Tatenda Taibu, immediately after the wicketkeeper had chosen to stand up to the stumps off Meth.

Williamson, who struck four fours en route to 35, fell in the first over after drinks, caught and bowled via a leading edge off Shingi Masakadza.

Guptill was then bowled by Elton Chigumbura as he attempted to drive one that kept a touch low, and teenage debutant Tom Latham was caught behind off the same bowler for 24.

When Dean Brownlie was run out by Regis Chakabva’s direct hit from backward point, New Zealand were reeling on 166 for six, but a stand of 57 between Andrew Ellis, another new cap, and Nathan McCullum frustrated the tourists.

Both were eventually bowled by Hamilton Masakadza, who - after Jarvis had accounted for Mills - wrapped up the innings by winning a leg before decision against Tim Southee.

It was not long before Zimbabwe slumped to 15 for three in reply, Mills dismissing Stuart Matsikenyeri, who played around a straight ball to be lbw, and Chakabva, caught at slip, either side of Ellis running out Masakadza.

Taibu made it to 20 before being caught at cover off Ellis, who then took a tumbling catch at long-off to account for Taylor as the batsman attempted to strike a second successive six off Nicol.

Zimbabwe offered little resistance thereafter, aside from Ray Price’s unbeaten 26, and Nicol sealed a convincing triumph for New Zealand by having last man Kyle Jarvis stumped.