First Test Match

Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2000-01

Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: D. T. Mutendera; M. H. Richardson.

When New Zealand's first innings was still struggling for parity at lunch on the fourth day, a draw looked inevitable. But that afternoon their bowlers swung the match with five wickets; next morning, Cairns sent back Campbell and Nkala in the third over and swept aside the tailenders to finish with his tenth five-wicket return in Tests. On the opening day, his 161st Test wicket (Andy Flower) had moved him ahead of Danny Morrison as New Zealand's second-highest wicket-taker. Sir Richard Hadlee's total of 431 looked unthreatened. But just as important as Cairns's pace were Wiseman's off-breaks, which claimed five wickets in Zimbabwe's long first innings and another three in their second. With two and a half sessions to score 132, New Zealand's batsmen put their side ahead in the series.

A slow pitch and cautionary batting produced dull entertainment on the first three days. Campbell took 307 balls over his 88, his first fifty in 17 Tests since making 56 in Zimbabwe's last series against New Zealand, in February 1998. Horne batted a similar time for New Zealand, just over five and a half hours, though needing 30 fewer balls to score 110, his second hundred against Zimbabwe. Once again, however, New Zealand owed their eventual position, just 12 in arrears, to their lower order, after earlier tentative batting against leg-spinner Paul Strang. Out of Test cricket with a wrist injury since March 1998, Strang kept the visitors on a tight rein with six for 78 on the third day. His final return, eight for 109, bettered Streak's six for 87 - against England at Lord's in May - as Zimbabwe's best Test figures. By then, however, New Zealand's last four wickets had added 158. Their fighting spirit was typified by Vettori, who batted for two hours, with a runner, in spite of the back injury that ended his tour.

For all its longueurs, the match was not devoid of drama. Even before it began, controversy surrounded Zimbabwe's selection of the young fast bowler, David Mutendera, who had attended the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. Guy Whittall, claiming Mutendera's inclusion was politically motivated and at the expense of Wishart, withdrew from the side - whereupon Wishart was brought in. On the final day, as New Zealand were settling into their victory chase, Grant Flower was no-balled for throwing his slow left-arm deliveries and taken off. Umpire Hair at square leg called the second, fourth and sixth deliveries of his second over, the eighth of the innings, and Rennie completed the over.
Man of the Match: P. J. Wiseman.

© John Wisden & Co