Malcolm Waller hit a single off the fifth ball of the last over to take Zimbabwe to a dramatic one-wicket win in the third and final one-day international against New Zealand at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday.
Waller finished on 99 not out off 74 balls as Zimbabwe chased down a New Zealand total of 328 for five which included centuries by Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson. It was Zimbabwe's highest successful run chase and ended a sequence of seven successive defeats for the home side.
New Zealand captain Taylor (119) and Williamson (100 not out) shared a fifth wicket stand of 195 off only 133 balls. It turned what seemed likely to be a respectable total into an imposing one, doubling the total by adding 164 runs in the final 15 overs, with the rampage starting in the batting powerplay taken after 35 overs.
But Zimbabwe got off to a brisk start with captain Brendan Taylor following centuries in the first two matches with 75 off 65 balls as he and Hamilton Masakadza (36) put on 100 for the second wicket.
Tatenda Taibu hit an aggressive 53 but it was a swashbuckling sixth wicket stand of 112 off 85 balls between Waller and Elton Chigumbura that put victory within reach for Zimbabwe.
Waller and Chigumbura got the target down to 34 off 36 balls when Chigumbura was bowled by Jacob Oram, trying a big shot. In a nervy finish, three more wickets fell and with four needed off the last over, Waller was dropped twice by Ross Taylor at midwicket.
Two runs were scored off the first miss and one off the second. Then Ray Price skied a catch and was caught with the scores tied but the batsmen crossed and Waller had the strike and clinched the match.
"Brendan Taylor and Waller batted very well," said Ross Taylor, who took the blame for dropping Waller. "When you drop catches you lose matches," he added.
While Taylor accelerated after a slow start in which he scored his first fifty off 83 balls before reaching his century off 115 deliveries, Williamson was in superb form from the start, hitting his century off 69 balls.
"It was an outstanding effort. It was disappointing for Kane that we couldn't get the win," said his captain.
Waller paid tribute to Chigumbura. "Having Elton there striking it so well was a real help. We had nothing to lose and we came out and played really well."