Late strikes keep New Zealand on course for victory
Zimbabwe 362 (Ervine 146, Sodhi 3-60) & 58 for 3 (Mawoyo 31, Southee 2-18) need another 329 runs to beat New Zealand 582 for 4 decl. and 118 for 2 (Williamson 68*, Taylor 67*)
NEW Zealand have 90 overs to take seven wickets after they set Zimbabwe a target of 387 runs in a contest that bears an uncanny resemblance to the one these teams tussled in five years ago at the same venue.
Then, Zimbabwe went into the final day having lost two wickets. This time, they are another man down and without Brendan Taylor or Tatenda Taibu. Worse, the men who will bat in their places are both carrying niggles. Craig Ervine was hit on the knee during his first innings 146 while Prince Masvaure sprained his ankle during Tuesday morning’s warm-ups. Masvaure may not bat but Ervine should be able to.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult managed to get late movement and prey on the less experienced batsmen but Ervine has showed he has the ability to front up to them. He took Zimbabwe close to avoiding the follow-on in their first innings. His carefully crafted, career-best score had its most impressive moments on the third day but he did his best to marshall the tail on the fourth morning.
He did not have much support and Zimbabwe lost their last four wickets for 43 runs to concede a deficit of 220, but Kane Williamson decided New Zealand would extend the lead.
With a licence to attack, Tom Latham and Martin Guptill began aggressively but both fell on their swords early on. Donald Tiripano found Latham’s edge in the sixth over to give wicketkeeper Peter Moor his first Test catch. Guptill cut Michael Chinoiya to John Nyumbu in the gully. New Zealand were 26 for 2 and Zimbabwe had bought themselves some time. Only eight runs came in the next seven overs as Williamson and Ross Taylor treated the opening bowlers with respect.
New Zealand upped the ante against Chamu Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer. Williamson brought up his third fifty-plus score in the series and cut loose after tea. The pair smashed 48 runs in four overs and Taylor, with his unbeaten 67, now has 364 runs in the series without being dismissed.
Williamson’s declaration 25 minutes into the third session left New Zealand with 116 overs to bowl Zimbabwe out. They would have thought that was enough when in the third over Chamu Chibhabha had a nibble at a ball that moved away late and edged it. The bowler Southee looked his second slip Guptill, who had to reach to his right but could not hold on.
Chibhabha was a mixture of feistiness and trepidation. He had a life in the third over, pulled and drove the aggrieved bowler Southee fours and went fishing in the off-stump corridor against Boult.
As was the case in the first Test, Neil Wagner troubled Zimbabwe most. His short-ball strategy from around the wicket tested Tino Mawoyo’s defences. The batsman eventually grew comfortable with that line of attack, forcing Wagner to go back over the stumps and he had a close shout for caught-behind.
Mitchell Santner, brought on in the 10th over, found turn and drift to leave Chibhabha particularly puzzled but it was Wagner who got the reward. He got one to move away and take the edge to Guptill at second slip.
Stumps was nine overs away, Southee and Boult returned for their final bursts and Zimbabwe grew tense. Mawoyo held out until the penultimate over, when an inswinger from Boult had him lbw Two balls later, Southee trapped Raza with a similar delivery to end the batsman’s first Test at No.3 with just three runs to his name.
Zimbabwe lasted 108.1 overs in 2011 against the same team, at the same venue and very nearly beat them. They’d dream of going a step further tonight, while New Zealand would prefer a less nerve-wracking experience on the final day. — Cricinfo.
Michael Chinouya dismissed Martin Guptill early in New Zealand’s second innings, Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bulawayo, 4th day, August 9, 2016