September 13, 2000

Accomplished start for Kiwi tourists in Bulawayo

So slow was Zimbabwe's progress on day one of the first Test with New Zealand, there is only one way the Test can be won by the tourists.

Achieving that will be a measure of where the New Zealanders are at in terms of their advance through the cricket ranks.

Dismissing Zimbabwe as quickly as possible on the second day on what, at the moment, is a benign pitch, building a massive first innings lead by positive, but not foolhardy, batting and then attempting to utilise the skills of spinners Daniel Vettori and Paul Wiseman to head off Zimbabwe has to be the ploy.

That requires a particular mindset from the Black Caps. Batting sessions, making the most of opportunities and breaking the Zimbabwe spirit has to be the key.

That hasn't always been an asset the Kiwis have enjoyed, but it will be the requirement right throughout this summer.

However, the inability to breakthrough on the first day confirms the impressions that coach David Trist had that his bowlers would face the toughest task in the Test.

Left-arm spinner Vettori's influence on the first day had to be encouraging. His flight, and his use of his own height to extract bounce, caused tentativeness in the batsmen, which will be hard to shake in the remainder of the series.

Wiseman's ability to persist while under assault also has to be a strength and an indication of how he is developing on the international front.

Shayne O'Connor's tidiness in good batting conditions has to be a bonus while the touted improvement in the speed of his bowling, may well have to wait until more suitable conditions to be fully assessed.

Without being earth shattering, New Zealand's start was accomplished and a hint that the requirements for victory have not been lost on all concerned. That has to be a credit for the tourists.