Riding on the heroics of Craig Ervine, eleventh-ranked Zimbabwe pulled off a stunning seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the 1st ODI at the Harare Sports Club on 2 August.
The minnows were never expected to pose much of a challenge for a team ranked third in ODIs, but the blistering knock by middle-order batsman Craig Ervine ensured Zimbabwe notched up New Zealand's mammoth total of 303 runs with five balls to spare.
The 29-year-old Zimbabwe batsman smashed an unbeaten 130 runs off 108 balls enroute to his maiden hundred, decorated with 11 fours and five sixes. The entertaining knock also ensured Zimbabwe took a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.
New Zealand, who were playing in the absence of their star players, amassed 115 runs in the final 10 overs to post an imposing total on board against the hosts. Ross Taylor (112*) and stand-in skipper Kane Williamson (97) anchored the innings while Grant Elliott's cameo of 32-ball 43 provided the much-needed boost to the tourists.
Zimbabwe replied with a solid foundation of 74 runs for the first wicket before Chamu Chibhabha (42) was cleaned up by Nathan McCullum. Hamilton Masakadza (84) and Ervine added 120 runs for the second wicket, but the dismissal of the former in the 35th over left the hosts facing the possibility of a late meltdown.
However, against the popular perception, Ervine didn't crack under pressure and anchored the run-chase to secure Zimbabwe's third ODI win in 15 games this year. Sean Williams (7) scored the winning runs for the hosts in final over off McCullum.
Zimbabwe will be looking to extend their lead when they take on New Zealand in the remaining two ODIs on 4th and 7th August.