HARARE - Zimbabwe's rollicking chase in Sunday's first ODI was the ideal start to the series. It heaped pressure on the favourites, New Zealand, and showed that the gap between the two sides, particularly in Zimbabwean conditions, wasn't as wide as originally perceived.

For New Zealand, the defeat revealed a possible lack of depth in bowling resources. While Tim Southee and Trent Boult are world-class new-ball operators in most parts of the world, Sunday's second-string seam attack looked a little one-note and lacking in guile on a surface without too much help for the quicks. They will have learned a few things from the loss, though, and the second ODI is an opportunity for them to reveal a couple of new tricks.

Otherwise, there isn't too much wrong with this New Zealand side. Their batting is full of class and experience, and will test Zimbabwe's bowlers again. Zimbabwe's performance with the ball on Sunday - a good start with the new ball, a struggle for wickets in the middle overs, and a complete loss of control at the death - was a repeat of the pattern that has troubled them all year, and solutions still remain elusive. If anything, the exploits of Craig Ervine and Hamilton Masakadza deflected attention away from the issue.

But the win validated the statement the team management has made on multiple occasions recently, that Zimbabwe are only a couple of steps from translating their potential into more consistent performances. On Sunday, their batsmen kept their heads, trusted their methods, and handled the crunch moments brilliantly. Zimbabwe's fans will hope they can do all those things a lot more often.

Having sat out the last two ODIs and the one-off T20 against India, Tinashe Panyangara slotted back into the Zimbabwe side and bowled with impressive control on Sunday. He moved the new ball, and bowled intelligent lines at the death even while the other bowlers leaked plenty. In a bowling attack that often lets teams off the hook after strong starts, there will be pressure on Panyangara to maintain his level of performance and keep New Zealand in check.

Nathan McCullum was New Zealand's only wicket-taker in the first ODI, and his dismissals of the Zimbabwe openers showed off his craft and guile perfectly. He will want more support from the rest of the attack, but he will continue to shoulder a large part of the wicket-taking burden on a Harare surface that always has something in it for the spinners.

Christopher Mpofu went for 84 from his 10 overs in the first ODI, and his place in the Zimbabwe attack might be under threat from Neville Madziva, who picked up six wickets in two ODIs against India.

James Neesham's seam-up looked ineffective in the first ODI, and while his batting is his primary skill, New Zealand might be tempted to go with an extra spin option and choose George Worker ahead of him. Matt Henry looked out of rhythm too, and Adam Milne could take his place.


ZIMBABWE: Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Tinashe Panyangara, Christopher Mpofu, Neville Madziva

NEW ZEALAND: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, James Neesham, George Worker, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi.