Bulawayo: Zimbabwe chased down more than 300 for the first time in a one-day international for a record-breaking one-wicket win over New Zealand at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday.
Malcolm Waller hit 99 not out — his highest ODI score — and Zimbabwe made the highest second innings total ever in a one-dayer at the Bulawayo ground to overhaul New Zealand's imposing 328-5 with a ball to spare.
Waller's match-winning innings, after Zimbabwe appeared to be down and out at 183-5 after 30 overs, came off just 74 balls. The 27-year-old right-hander hit 10 fours and a six in a stunning fightback to give the Zimbabweans their first win of the tour — and first win in an ODI in eight attempts.
It was easily the most memorable chase by a Zimbabwe team, beating out their brave effort in Perth in 2001 when they scored 301-6 batting second but lost by one run to Australia.
Waller — the son of former Zimbabwe batsman Andy — raced past his previous best international score of 63, sharing a 112-run partnership with Elton Chigumbura (47) to take the home team toward an unlikely victory.
Even then, Zimbabwe had to scramble in a thrilling finish. They lost four quick wickets near the end — including Ray Price in the last over — before Waller held his nerve in a pressure situation to force a single off the penultimate ball to win with Zimbabwe's last two batsmen at the crease.
To add to the drama, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor dropped Waller twice off the first two balls of the last over.
New Zealand still won the three-match series 2-1, but the fighting victory will give the Zimbabweans much heart heading into the one-off Test next month.
Earlier, Taylor and Kane Williamson both made aggressive centuries as New Zealand racked up 328 and looked set for a 3-0 series sweep.
The pair shared a powerful 195-run partnership for the fifth wicket, punishing Zimbabwe's lackluster bowling to seemingly continue New Zealand's dominance. The Black Caps had won every game of the tour before Tuesday, taking the Twenty20 series 2-0 and an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series.
Williamson reached just his second one-day hundred off the last ball of the New Zealand innings, which had to be re-bowled after seamer Njabulo Ncube was taken out of the attack on his international debut for a second no-ball above waist height.
Chigumbura delivered the extra ball, which Williamson lofted over mid-off toward the boundary to scramble the three runs needed for his century.
Ncube was still Zimbabwe's best bowler with 3-69, but the centuries by Taylor and Williamson and 53 from Jesse Ryder appeared to be more than enough to secure another victory for New Zealand.
Zimbabwe lost Vusi Sibanda for a duck off the second ball of their reply, and despite half-centuries by captain Brendan Taylor (75) and former skipper Tatenda Taibu (53), they were struggling until Waller and Chigumbura launched their counterattack.
Chigumbura hammered three fours and three sixes but Waller's composed innings under great pressure took Zimbabwe to one of their most famous one-day wins.
Jacob Oram had 3-44 off 9.5 overs to lead the New Zealand bowlers but he couldn't stop Waller at the death.