BLACKCAPS cruise past Zimbabwe

The BLACKCAP openers barely broke sweat as they coasted to a 10-wicket win over a disappointing Zimbabwe in their group A match at the cricket World Cup.

Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum put on 166 for the opening partnership -- a new record at the World Cup for New Zealand -- after a disciplined bowling effort had earlier dismissed Zimbabwe for an under-par 162 on a good batting wicket at Ahmedabad, India.

Guptill finished on 86 not out and McCullum was unbeaten on 76 as the BLACKCAPS avoided a potential banana skin and stayed on course for a place in the quarterfinals.

Guptill showed his intent by cracking 14 off the first over, before settling down with McCullum to get some valuable time in the middle ahead of Tuesday's match against Pakistan. He finished as he started, cracking the winning runs to the boundary midway through the 34th over.

The emphatic result was welcomed by captain Daniel Vettori.

"I think it's the performance that we're looking for and now it's up to us to replicate that against some of the bigger nations," he said.

The mediocre total they had to chase came about after a more convincing showing with the ball than what was evident in their seven-wicket hiding by Australia a week ago.

Three wickets to Tim Southee, supported by two each to skipper Daniel Vettori and the recalled Kyle Mills, and a solid fielding effort ensured the target would be well within their means.

The Zimbabwean attack, heavily reliant on its slow bowlers, was rendered toothless as the opening pair took toll of anything loose and were particularly severe on the seamers.

"A win like this is very good for the confidence," said McCullum, who chalked up his 19th ODI half-century.

Zimbabwe, who looked like the only team capable of preventing New Zealand making the top four in its group and thereby qualifying for the quarterfinals, started poorly after winning the toss and choosing to bat first.

They lost Charles Coventry after only eight balls after he underestimated Hamish Bennett's ability in the field. The fast bowler ran out the opener with a diving one-handed flick from mid-on.

Vettori dropped a catch off the dangerous Tatenda Taibu in the eighth over, but he was relieved to see Southee trap the same batsman lbw the next ball.

Taibu, who made a run-a-ball 98 Zimbabwe's last match, was soon joined in the pavilion by Craig Ervine. The left-hander, who had shared in a 181-run stand with Taibu in the win over Canada, slapped a ball from Mills to Jesse Ryder at point.

Vettori had success with his first ball to dismiss Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura lbw after he advanced down the wicket and two balls later Ross Taylor snared a sharp one-handed chance at slip to dismiss Regis Chakabva.

At that stage Zimbabwe had slumped to 46 for five with only Brendan Taylor holding the innings together, and when he missed a straight one from Scott Styris when on 44 they were struggling at 86 for six.

Prosper Utseya added glue down the order with an invaluable 36 and contributions from Graeme Cremer (22) and Greg Lamb (18) added some meat to the bones of a scorecard, but their total of 162 proved too small to threaten an upset.

* Image courtesty ICC/Getty

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