| Tatenda Taibu jumps in joy to celebrate the dismissal of Robert Key during the tri-series opener at Trent Bridge Thursday. (AFP)
Nottingham: Grant Flower hit a gritty 96 not out as Zimbabwe beat England in a tense opening match of the tri- series Thursday.
Zimbabwe had lost their last nine ODIs in a row against England, but Flower mastered a dry, cracking pitch at Trent Bridge to steer his side home by four wickets with two overs to spare.
He made almost half his side’s runs, sealing the result with a four off Ashley Giles.
There was also cause for celebration for captain Heath Streak, who returned figures of two for 30 to become the first Zimbabwean to take 200 one-day International wickets.
The game was an unpredictable affair, England beginning superbly and finishing poorly to manage 191 for eight after being put in. Zimbabwe, outclassed in the Tests, began horribly but then fought back to win comfortably.
They looked doomed after collapsing to 15 for four in the 10th over against pacers Richard Johnson-Darren Gough, only for Flower to rebuild the reply with the dashing Stuart Matsikenyeri (44) during a 96-run stand.
Flower, who hit 10 fours, ran out Streak to leave the team on 143 for six in the 41st over, but there were to be no more alarms.
Andrew Flintoff had top-scored with 53 for England, while opener Marcus Trescothick hit eight fours in a run-a-ball 38. The rest of the England middle-order, looked bemused against some tight spin bowling.
South Africa are the other side in the tournament and open against England at The Oval on Saturday.