New Zealand XI v Zimbabweans, Gisborne, 1st day January 21, 2012

Watling fights after visitors' seamers strike

ESPNcricinfo staff

Zimbabweans 39 for 0 (Mawoyo 23*, Masakadza 15*) trail New Zealand XI 272 for 7 dec. (Watling 84, Wells 65) by 33 runs

BJ Watling's focus in the tour game may be to prove that he is good enough with the gloves to be New Zealand's full-time Test wicketkeeper, but a stodgy 84 would not have hurt his confidence. Watling's innings was crucial to helping New Zealand XI recover from 59 for 4 to 272 for 7 declared. Watling stayed at the wicket for almost four hours, and forged partnerships with Daniel Vettori and Sam Wells, the allrounder from Otago.

Vettori counterattacked from one end, while Watling held up the order, and his 49 off 63 balls helped negate some of the early damage the Zimbabweans' medium-pacers had done. After Vettori was dismissed by Elton Chigumbura, Wells played the role of the aggressor, racing to 65 off 85 balls with seven fours and a six. Watling stayed firm at one end, but missed out on a century when he was run out, with the score on 272, at which point New Zealand XI declared.

Ross Taylor, the New Zealand captain, has been talking about a green pitch for the one-off Test in Napier, which he thinks will suit his fast bowlers. But it was the tourists' medium-pacers who found success with the new ball in Gisborne. Kyle Jarvis trapped Michael Bracewell lbw for a duck in the third over and Brian Vitori got Kruger van Wyk, who is competing with Watling for the keeper's position in the New Zealand Test side, to edge behind for 5.

The first and second change bowlers also found success: Keegan Meth bowled Ross Taylor, and Shingi Masakadza dismissed Kane Williamson caught behind. Ross Taylor has struggled for form with the bat lately, and volunteered to play the practice match to get into Test mode, after playing in the HRV Cup. However, he only lasted 11 balls in the first innings, before getting bowled for 7.

The Zimbabweans' openers got to 39 for 0 after the hosts declared with 14 overs still to play on the first day, perhaps in the hope that their top-order batsmen will get another chance in the three-day game.