Ervine ton stalls dom­i­nant New Zealand

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

Zim­babwe 305 for 6 (Ervine 115*, Moor 71, Chib­habha 60, Sant­ner 2-102 trail New Zealand 582 for 4 (Latham 136, Tay­lor 124, Wil­liamson 113) by 277 runs

ZIM­BABWE cel­e­brate their he­roes on Au­gust 8, and in Craig Ervine they cer­tainly found one. His maiden Test ton and 148-run sixth-wicket stand with debu­tant PJ Moor took Zim­babwe to within 78 runs of avoid­ing the fol­low-on. Per­haps more cru­cially, he frus­trated a New Zealand at­tack that now has a max­i­mum of two days — could be lesser if the vis­i­tors have to bat — to take 14 wick­ets and on a flat Queens Sports Club sur­face.

In their favour is the fact that New Zealand have dis­cov­ered the best way to break through — re­verse swing. With the sec­ond new ball that is more than 30 overs old, they may start look­ing for it again early on fourth morn­ing. When they found it with their first ball, they made life un­com­fort­able for the Zim­bab­wean line-up, who were suf­fo­cated with close fields to the spin­ners.

With just eight Tests un­der his belt, Ervine, the most ex­pe­ri­enced of Zim­babwe’s line-up go­ing into this match, played the way a se­nior should. His ap­proach com­bined cau­tion with clever stroke­play and en­sured the score­board kept tick­ing over. Zim­babwe scored 250 runs on the day, 120 in the fi­nal ses­sion alone. The dis­missal of Moor for 71 in the last half hour lifted the morale of the vis­i­tors, who were run ragged after a spir­ited start.

Ervine was needed after Zim­babwe’s open­ers — Chamu Chib­habha and Tino Ma­woyo — gave the team their best start in 13 Tests, over five years, with a 65-run stand. Chib­habha was lucky to sur­vive a con­fi­dent shout off a Trent Boult de­liv­ery that tailed back in late. There was a bat-pad noise which may have put um­pire Paul Reif­fel off.

His open­ing part­ner Ma­woyo ap­peared to be bet­ter equipped to play de­fen­sively and bullishly. He fronted up to Neil Wag­ner’s short-ball strat­egy be­fore in­sid­eedg­ing a drive onto the stumps.

After they were sep­a­rated, Sikan­dar Raza, bat­ting at No. 3 in place of the in­jured Hamil­ton Masakadza, squan­dered an op­por­tu­nity to present his case fur­ther. By then, a spell of un­cer­tainty had been wo­ven into the Zim­bab­wean mind­set. For 9.3 overs, Raza looked to have put away his ag­gres­sive streak but then drove lazily at a wide Wag­ner de­liv­ery with no foot move­ment to give Kane Wil­liamson at gully a present on his 26th birth­day.

Chib­habha, for all his fid­get­ing, had shown abil­ity to oc­cupy the crease. He fought his way to fifty and looked like he would see out the open­ing ses­sion. But Wil­liamson’s de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce spin in the form of Mitchell Sant­ner paid off as Chib­habha drove with hard hands to find short cover.

New Zealand could have had one more in the open­ing ses­sion when Southee tempted Ervine to drive, only to see Ross Tay­lor grass an op­por­tu­nity in the slips. In­stead, they had to wait un­til after the break when Prince Mas­vaure brought about his own dis­missal as the ball bounced back off a half-hearted de­fence to hit leg stump.

That brought Zim­babwe’s most as­sured pair of Ervine and Sean Wil­liams to­gether. While they were watch­ful, they also cashed in when the bad balls came their way. Wil­liams, fresh off a cen­tury in the pre­vi­ous Test, was in sparkling form till he was ad­judged lbw off a pre­med­i­tated re­verse-sweep against Ish Sodhi.

After a pe­riod of set­tling in, Moor scored freely, es­pe­cially off the sec­ond new ball, which be­came avail­able with 25 min­utes left in the ses­sion. But Wil­liamson, who waited un­til there were only 10 overs left be­fore tak­ing it, may need to wait a lit­tle longer be­fore it brings re­wards. — ESPNCricInfo

Craig Ervine cel­e­brates his cen­tury dur­ing the 2nd test be­tween Zim­babwe v New Zealand in Bulawayo. Pic: ESPNCricInfo

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