Sean Williams’ unbeaten 76 off 65 balls helped Zimbabwe to a four-wicket win over the United Arab Emirates in their first World Cup game since 1996.
At 167-5 chasing a target of 286 to win, Zimbabwe were in danger of becoming the first top-tier side to ever lose an ODI to the UAE but an 83-run partnership between Williams and Craig Ervine (42) rescued things.
It will be a disappointing defeat for UAE who impressed throughout, particularly with the bat - posting their highest ever ODI score - Shaiman Anwar top-scoring with a 50-ball 67.
Having been put into bat on a good batting surface at Saxton Oval in Nelson, the UAE innings was well constructed and well-paced, with all but two of their batsmen passing 20.
43-year-old Khurram Khan (45) - the oldest ever World Cup player - and Krishna Chandran (34) produced an 82-run partnership for the third wicket but both fell within three overs of other - Khan to the pick of the bowlers, Tendai Chatara (3-42).
That brought Anwar to the crease in the 31st over with the score at 134-4 and his innings - his highest ever ODI score - helped the UAE to a testing total.
When he fell to Williams - who took 2-43 in an impressive all-round display - Amjad Javed (25 off 19 balls) and Mohammad Naveed (23 off 17) combined well in a quickfire unbroken stand of 53 to fire the UAE to 285-7 at the end of their 50 overs.
Zimbabwe started positively in response with opener Sikander Raza striking 46 off 44 balls before another 43-year-old, UAE captain Mohammad Tauqir, dismissed him in the 13th over with the score at 64.
Wickets continued to fall at crucial times, none more so than the dismissal of Brendan Taylor (47) who, looking to up the scoring rate, was struck low on his front pad when attempting to sweep a full delivery from Nasir Aziz.
He was given out but reviewed the decision only for technology to show the ball would have hit the middle stump - that left Zimbabwe 144-4 in the 28th over.
And their struggles deepened when Solomon Mire fell cheaply for nine, four overs later.
But Williams and Ervine’s partnership rescued the side and by the time the latter was bowled by Krishna Chandran, only 36 runs from seven overs were required.
Williams saw them over the line in style with three straight fours to win the game in the 48th over to end Zimbabwe's losing streak of seven matches stretching back to their three-wicket win over Australia in Harare last August.
They next play the West Indies in Canberra on Tuesday, while the UAE face Ireland in Brisbane a day later.
Sky Sports pundit Matt Prior: "You could tell that the captain was slightly disappointed. That was their chance to get a win - their first time back in a World Cup for almost 20 years.
"They were so close, 286 was a good target, but it could so easily have been 300 plus. They just couldn’t quite get over the line."
Watch highlights of Zimbabwe v UAE on Sky Sports World Cup (channel 403) at 9am, 11am, 3pm, 5pm and 8pm.