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The Report by Andrew Fernando
January 27, 2012
New Zealand 392 for 5 (Watling 52*, Bracewell 11*) v Zimbabwe
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Only 15.2 overs were bowled on the second day of the Test between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at McLean Park before light, but persistent, rain set in to make further play impossible. BJ Watling shone through the gloom of the curtailed morning session to consolidate his side's dominance with a bright fifty, his second in Tests. Watling finished unbeaten on 52, having helped his side advance to 392 for 5, with a large first-innings score becoming ever more critical following the loss of two and a half sessions of play.
New Zealand managed to waltz through unscathed on the scorecard, but sustained an injury to overnight centurion Ross Taylor, who retired hurt before being taken to hospital with a suspected calf tear. It may mean today's modest gain of 61 runs proves a potentially pyrrhic victory for the hosts, with South Africa, the home summer's main event, due in the country in two weeks.
Watling passed his first Test as wicketkeeper-batsman by producing the kind of innings the selectors signed him on for in his first dig in the new role. Watling began the morning with a pair of liquid drives through the off side, and rarely allowed a half-volley to go unpunished. With an abnormally docile Ross Taylor's sights seemingly set on long occupation on day two, it fell to Watling to provide the early impetus, and he responded with a brace of runs square of the wicket, even as his partner's start starved him of the strike.
As in the morning session on day one, Zimbabwe's bowlers were guilty of straying too often, particularly on the pads, and despite the already-slow outfield becoming ever more sluggish as drizzle set in, Watling's timing ensured wayward bowlers paid due penance.
The visitors also lacked intensity on the field, again much as they had for in the opening day, with Brendan Taylor positioning a solitary slip instead of pressing for early breakthroughs under some cloud cover. Ross Taylor was happy to allow the bowlers come to him, dealing in languid singles instead of militant strokeplay, with his counterpart seemingly content to leave enough gaps to allow him his leisurely approach.
Ross Taylor's plan to build patiently struck an abrupt roadblock when he pulled a calf, setting off for his 122nd run. Unable to summon a runner under the new rules, the New Zealand captain was forced to leave the field.
Zimbabwe's woes were then both epitomised and compounded by perhaps the worst drop in Tests so far in 2012. Doug Bracewell toed a sitter to Forster Mutizwa at cover, handing the debutant a chance not even worthy of being called catching practice. Mutizwa shelled the opportunity, and a few overs later, Watling edged through vacant first slip to reach his fifty before the rains came down.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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