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November 8, 2011
Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand left-arm spinner, has said he enjoyed playing his first Test since resigning from the captaincy after the 2011 World Cup. Vettori has also retired from ODIs and Twenty20 internationals, so he joined the squad in Zimbabwe after the limited-over series. He took eight wickets in New Zealand's 34-run win in Bulawayo and said missing the one-dayers may have had a role in his performance.
"The reason I made the decision [to quit limited-overs cricket] was to spend a little bit more time at home and hopefully freshen up my bowling," Vettori told Cricket365.com. "I came into this series feeling pretty fresh, and a two-day warm-up game is enough to get ready for a Test match. Sometimes it's a good thing if batsmen haven't seen you for a while and you haven't played the one-day series, so hopefully that played a part in my performance as well.
"Not being captain takes a bit of stress off my performance, with the fact that I can just worry about myself and hopefully help out some of the younger guys."
Ross Taylor was appointed Vettori's successor and Vettori said he was impressed with Taylor's captaincy during the Test. "Ross understands my game and how to use me. I've enjoyed stepping back and just helping him out rather than having to be the driving force in most situations. He did things that I wouldn't have done and they really worked well - the Guptill wicket [part-time offspinner Martin Guptill dismissed Tino Mawoyo on the fifth day] I thought was fantastic."
Zimbabwe came very close to chasing down the 366-run target in Bulawayo thanks to a century from their captain Brendan Taylor. Only a late collapse of six wickets for 44 runs denied them victory. Vettori said he was not surprised by the fight that Zimbabwe, who only recently returned to playing Tests, put up, particularly because he knew Brendan Taylor was in supreme form.
"We knew we would have a tough time getting through their top order, particularly with [Brendan] Taylor there. We saw how well he played in the one-day series and the innings that he played [in Bulawayo] would rival any innings that the best batsmen in the world could play. We realised what a special innings it was, and that's what put us on the back foot. There aren't that many guys in world cricket who can play that well, and it took that sort of innings to take the wind out of our sails early on, but fortunately we hung in there and produced when it counted."
Zimbabwe's decision to go for the runs rather than play for a draw made for an intriguing final day and Vettori said it had been a great Test thanks to Zimbabwe's attacking attitude. "They kept having a go which put us under pressure but in some ways it probably opened the door for us as well. I think if they'd shut up shop early on that wicket it would have been difficult for us to get wickets, but good on them for trying. I think everyone would have sat back and said that this was a great Test match; for it to go into the final six overs, people want to see those sorts of Tests. "You could see the crowd develop over the day thinking there was a victory in the offing for Zimbabwe, but I think they'll go home saying it was a really good Test match"
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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