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The Report by Andrew Fernando
January 28, 2012
New Zealand 495 for 7 dec (Taylor 122, Watling 102*) beat Zimbabwe 51 (Waller 23) and 143 (Chakabva 63, Martin 6-26) by an innings and 301 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe fans waking up to check on the cricket might wonder if they slept through the entire weekend, after a rolling Zimbabwe collapse spanning sixteen wickets and 43 overs brought the one-off Test in Napier hurtling to an early close. The innings-and-301-run defeat is their worst ever, eclipsing the loss they suffered to the same opposition in 2005 by seven runs. And though Regis Chakabva resisted valiantly with a 63 from 119 balls towards the end, it was little compensation for a catastrophic first innings in response to New Zealand's 495 for 7 declared.
Chris Martin finished with 8 for 31 for the day, bringing the top order to its knees in both innings before his team-mates smelled easy blood and continued the mauling. Sharp and disciplined, the New Zealand attack made the most of uncomfortable bounce and modest movement available, on a day where they only had to keep putting the ball just short of a length and await the bounty.
Zimbabwe had succumbed for 54 against South Africa on their last away Test tour six years ago, but they trumped even that ignominy at McLean Park, with a 51 all out in the first innings that lasted a shade under 29 overs. Tino Mawoyo and Forster Mutizwa were the first dominoes to fall, flailing wildly at Martin indippers that went on to disturb their stumps. Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu continued the spectacular surrender, pushing hard outside off stump to provide the slips with a supply of edges.
The visitors might have hoped to breach the follow-on target of 295, but not only did that seem a fanciful pipe dream at lunch, the rate of implosion suggested they wouldn't even manage 40. New Zealand's stand-in captain, Brendon McCullum, employed no fewer than seven catching men in addition to the keeper at one stage, to ensure each gift Zimbabwe bestowed could be happily accepted.
Malcolm Waller offered the only resistance, when he managed 23 before edging Tim Southee to the slips. At least he made a double figure score - something that evaded each of his team-mates, who between them recorded three ducks, two twos and three threes. After Waller's demise, the tail bowed as meekly as those who had gone before them at the top of the innings, who in turn padded up again for the second time in two hours.
They were all heading back to the changing room soon after though, as the Zimbabwe batting conveyor belt resumed either side of tea. Martin snared both Zimbabwe openers and captain Taylor, before two wickets to Doug Bracewell in the first over after the afternoon break reduced Zimbabwe to 12 for 5, with the day's running total at 63 for 15.
Chakabva and Graeme Cremer came together for the seventh wicket, with the total at 37 and their side facing the heaviest Test loss since 1938. But the pair finally found the application that had evaded Zimbabwe for 40 overs and prevented further infamy with a 63-run association. Both men were understandably reticent to begin with, but began to score runs off loose deliveries eventually, with Chakabva even venturing two cleanly struck boundaries off a Trent Boult over that eased the nerves. The pair survived the seamers, who had reaped 14 wickets between them in two sessions and had McCullum turning to his part-timers before Cremer abandoned judgement and his wicket, chipping a Kane Williamson full toss lamely to mid-off.
Chakabva continued his defiance in the company of a more aggressive minded Shingi Masakadza, completing a dogged first Test fifty from 82 deliveries to force New Zealand to call on the extra half hour to complete the win. When at one stage it seemed Zimbabwe would not eclipse BJ Watling's first innings 102 with both team totals combined, Zimbabwe's lower order restored a modicum of credibility, but fell short of the 151 that would have ensured Harare, 2005 would remain their worst loss.
The third morning had begun well enough for the visitors when Brian Vitori found late swing to dislodge Bracewell off the third ball of the day. But their start would have been yet brighter had Shingi Masakadza not overstepped two balls later. Watling was given out lbw to a delivery angling in to him, but was handed his first life upon review - one of many costly misses for Zimbabwe in the field.
Tim Southee, on orders to partner Watling for as long as possible rather than wield his characteristic long handle, ended up doing both. He battled out the first twenty minutes risk-free before two straight fours off Kyle Jarvis signaled intentions to propel New Zealand towards 500. Greed ended his enterprising innings at 44, as he looked to slam a third consecutive boundary off Cremer over midwicket only for Waller to swallow his mis-hit.
Boult saw Watling through to his ton, which didn't come without drama. He was dropped in the gully off Jarvis at 90, and at 94, was hurried-up by the dressing room who granted one more over to reach three figures before the declaration would come. A slog to midwicket off the next ball he faced brought him four, and he was almost run out attempting an ambitious two to get his century, with Watling only able to celebrate the milestone after the third umpire ruled him home by a whisker.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?