Second Test Match

Zimbabwe v New Zealand

Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debut: D. G. Sewell.

Alistair Campbell shook this game from its torpor and made a dent in Zimbabwe's reputation as a dull team with one of the most unexpected Test-match declarations since Garry Sobers allowed England to win a game and a series in Trinidad almost 30 years earlier.

The first four days were dominated by the bat on a pitch that was too good to produce a result by normal means. And Zimbabwe seemed to be batting with little urgency on the final morning, suggesting they believed a declaration could only benefit New Zealand. Then suddenly Campbell hit out, and set New Zealand 286 in a touch over two sessions. The batsmen took up the challenge and, as Zimbabwe turned to their leg-spinners to keep them in the game, a win for either team became possible. Fleming looked capable of seeing New Zealand home until he was run out in the final push. When Vettori was also run out, leaving 11 to get in four balls with two wickets left, they finally shut the door on a match that, in the end, was almost as exciting as England's draw on the same ground nine months before. Neither side, however, had done enough in the series to prove themselves conclusively superior.

The first half of the contest had belonged to Guy Whittall, who grabbed the opportunity to establish himself as Zimbabwe's No. 4 by scoring an unbeaten 203, with 22 fours and two sixes. He was dropped on five, then stayed for 453 minutes and 359 balls, scoring two-thirds of the runs while he was at the crease. There was already 148 on the board when he came in because the openers Rennie and Grant Flower had carried on where they left off in Harare, with Flower falling 17 short of a third successive century.

New Zealand's bowlers simply lacked the penetration required on such a welcoming batting strip, and the left-arm seamer David Sewell - whose inclusion instead of Davis was as much a punishment for Davis's no-balling as anything else - had a harsh introduction to Test cricket. But the left-arm spinner Vettori was rewarded with four wickets for his perseverance through 58 overs.

For a time on the third day, Zimbabwe had a chance to take a grip: at 162 for six, New Zealand were still 100 short of avoiding the follow-on. But Astle, playing his best innings of the tour, put on 97 with Harris before losing his head, and his wicket, four short of a century. Harris then added a further 112 with Vettori, who scored 90 with remarkable resilience - his previous best in all first-class cricket was 29 not out. Huckle and Paul Strang shared nine wickets, exploiting New Zealand's traditional weakness against leg-spin. Huckle took six for 109, and in the second innings made his match figures 11 for 255, giving him 16 in his first fortnight of Test cricket, and making him the first to take ten or more wickets in a Test for Zimbabwe. He had previously played four first-class matches, three of them in the early 1990s before going to university in South Africa.

Man of the Match: G. J. Whittall. Man of the Series: G. W. Flower.

Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 263-4 (G. J. Whittall 66*, D. L. Houghton 4*); Second day, New Zealand 23-0 (C. M. Spearman 14*, B. A. Pocock 7*); Third day, New Zealand 268-7 (C. Z. Harris 35*, D. L. Vettori 5*); Fourth day, Zimbabwe 152-3 (G. J. Whittall 41*, A. D. R. Campbell 19*).

© John Wisden & Co
 
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