File photo: Malcolm Waller looked in good touch through the series and exploded in the final ODI © AFP

From Zimcricket

By : Kelly

Final Castle ODI Challenge, at Queens Sports Club

Result: Zimbabwe won by one run, with one ball remaining

Malcolm Waller played the innings of his life which to led Zimbabwe to a one run victory with a ball to spare against New Zealand in the last match of the Castle ODI Challenge played at Queens Sports Club (QSC) on Tuesday. Although the victory concludes the series 2-1 in favour of the visitors, Brendan Taylor salvaged some pride from the team’s performance.

Brendan Taylor was named Man of The Series after two back-to-back centuries and a half century with a total of 310 runs in the series. “It is an awesome feeling and a nice way to end the way we did. We will salvage a bit of pride from it and we will take a lot out of this. We have a little bit of momentum now. From start to finish, the guys were positive in their approach. The crowd always turns up, this one is for them and everyone who has shown up in the past,” said the Zimbabwe skipper.

Black caps captain, Ross Taylor, powered his team to 328 runs with a well-deserved 119 runs from 126 balls after winning the toss and electing to bat on a typically flat QSC wicket. His knock which featured nine boundaries and three sixes, came just after Rob Nicol (14) and BJ Watling (0) were dismissed hastily in the innings. The pitch favoured the batsmen and the visitors made two land mark partnerships on it; the first being the 83-run partnership for the 4th wicket between big hitting Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor. Ryder was caught and balled by Malcolm Waller for 53 after facing 68 balls.

The second was the record fifth wicket partnership of 195 run between Taylor and Kane Williamson that took the team to such a massive total. The pair broke the New Zealand record of 148-runs for the fifth wicket set by RG Twose and CL Cairns against Australia in Cardiff in 1999. Williamson scored his second hundred in his ODI career, with an unbeaten 100 from just 94 balls. Njabulo Ncube was the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers with figures of three for 69 in 8.5 overs.

Zimbabwe required 6.6 runs an over to win, there was no other way of surpassing the huge total but to come out fighting –this time the men in red did so comprehensively. Openers Vusi Sibanda (0) departed in the first over. Fortunately and Zimbabwe was kept in the fight after the 100-run 2nd wicket partnership between Hamilton Masakadza (36) and in-form Brendan Taylor who chipped in with a quick-fire 75 from 65 balls. Mutizwa was also dismissed for a duck, but Tatenda Taibu’s 53 from 39 balls instantly made amends for it; Taibu was caught in the 30th over with Zimbabwe still well under the required run rate.

Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller put up a 112-run stand for the sixth wicket which set Zimbabwe right on course needing just 34 runs from the last six overs. Chigumbura was very aggressive punching three sixes and three boundaries for his innings of 47 off 43 deliveries. Waller played a career best innings of an unbeaten 99 from just 108 balls, hitting 10 boundaries and a six in the process.

Though Zimbabwe had a long tail, the bowlers managed to give Waller the help he needed to finish the job. Natsai M’shangwe (7) Waller’s bravery hit an indispensable boundary before Luke Woodcock had him bowled. Zimbabwe needed six runs from the last over. Jacob Oram assumed his usually role as the last man to bowl, his experience under these conditions has proved vital in this series. The crowd were on the edge of their seats when Ross Taylor dropped Waller from Oram’s first delivery, Waller took ran for two and then a single of the next ball to tie the scores. Price was caught the very next ball and the batsmen crossed over while the ball was airborne allowing for Waller to complete the innings with a single.

“It feels good to come out winning in this game. Taking it right through the end was very good, especially having Elton [Chigumbura] striking it the way he did. I was a bit nervous at times, but Elton took the pressure off with the big hits,” said Waller, who was named Man of The Match