Napier: Captain Brendon McCullum hit a commanding century as New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by 202 runs in the third one-day international on Thursday, sweeping the three-match series.
McCullum's 119 was his fourth one-day international century and came after a 153-run opening partnership between Martin Guptill and Rob Nicol that propelled New Zealand to 373-8 - their third-highest total in one-day internationals.
Kane Williamson, Nathan McCullum and Tarun Nethula then shared six wickets as New Zealand bowled out Zimbabwe for 171 in 44 overs. Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor top-scored with 65 from 68 balls.
Zimbabwe's chances of challenging New Zealand's giant total all but disappeared when openers Tinotenda Mawoyo and Stuart Matsikenyeri fell with the total at 14. Taylor and wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu (26) put on 77 for the third wicket but when Taibu departed in the 21st over Zimbabwe was on a pedestrian 81-3 and the game was effectively over.
Williamson took 2-13 from three overs, Nathan McCullum 2-21 from three and leg-spinner Nethula 2-41 from 10.
Nethula bowled an outstanding spell, dropping onto a perfect line and length and challenging all batsmen with flight and turn. When he made his debut in the previous match at Whangarei he was the first leg-spinner to play a one-day international for New Zealand in 10 years.
Fast bowler Michael Bates, who was the most recent of six players to make their New Zealand debuts in the series, took 1-24 from eight overs.
Earlier, McCullum built on the foundation laid by Guptill (85 from 69 balls) and Nicol (61 from 63), who shared their second-straight century partnership and their third in one-day internationals.
The skipper reached his century from 79 balls and took his 119 runs from 88 balls before falling to the last ball of the innings.
"It was nice to come in with a few overs to go and to be able to build a good innings," McCullum said. "The way both Martin and Rob batted was great and they've been magnificent for us all series."
Both openers capitalized on reprieves. Nicol was judged lbw to Brian Vitori but the decision was overturned on replay and Guptill was dropped off Vitori's bowling when he was on 4 and New Zealand was 17-0.
The openers fully capitalized on the let-offs. Guptill reached his half century from 38 balls and the pair raised their century partnership in the 15th over before falling to successive deliveries.
Nicol was trapped lbw by off-spinner Prosper Utseya with the last ball of the 22nd over and Guptill was bizarrely stumped off a leg-side wide bowled by left-armer Ray Price with the first ball of the 23rd.
The ball lodged in the crook of wicketkeeper Tatendu Taibu's arm. Guptill did not see it there, and stepped out of his crease as if to take a single. Taibu retrieved the ball and whipped off the bails as Guptill desperately tried to retrieve his ground, doing the splits and ending up spread-eagled on the ground.
McCullum then took charge, hitting seven fours and five sixes in a relatively restrained innings which still punished Zimbabwe for some wayward bowling. Vitori (1-105) was particularly expensive, continually bowling full tosses on a ground famous for its short square boundaries.
McCullum was not overly aggressive early, but picked up the pace, htting his second half century from only 27 balls as New Zealand accelerated its run rate. He reached his hundred in the 48th over, from 107 balls and with five fours and four sixes.
New Zealand won the first match by 90 runs and the second by 141 runs.
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