Second Test

Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2005-06

Special Correspondent

At Bulawayo, August 15, 16, 17, 2005. New Zealand won by an innings and 46 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debut: K. M. Dabengwa.

On one of the world's friendliest pitches for batsmen, at Queens Sports Club, Zimbabwe twice passed 200, and also dismissed New Zealand for under 500 - but were still totally outclassed as they went down to their fourth successive innings defeat. Admitting that they had no better players available, Zimbabwe replaced opening batsman Ferreira with a fifth bowler, slow left-armer Keith Dabengwa. New Zealand retained their winning team and, this time, Bond reaped the reward for his outstanding pace bowling: ten for 99 in the match.

Despite the conditions, Bond moved the ball in to the right-hander at pace, and grabbed wickets in each of his first three overs. Six were out by lunch - five to Bond - despite a typically plucky innings by Taibu. His main supporter was Mahwire, an aspiring all-rounder; they added 88 for the eighth wicket by determination and adherence to the basics before Taibu hooked himself to destruction.

On the face of it, Zimbabwe did not do too badly on the first day. After scoring 231, they removed both Marshall twins before the close. But the second day delivered glorious weather, a placid pitch and wayward bowling, although Streak did test the New Zealanders early on: Fleming was perhaps fortunate to survive a confident lbw appeal on 18.

Centuries seemed to be there for the taking, but Fleming and Vincent fell soon after lunch, briefly giving the bowlers heart. Only Astle applied himself sufficiently to reach three figures, batting in more dedicated style than usual; it took him 154 balls. He was still there at the end of the third day, with New Zealand on 454 for seven and looking for more, but the last three wickets fell in 11 overs next morning. Streak and Mahwire had toiled manfully and Dabengwa, though unthreatening, was at least tidy. The others failed badly.

Zimbabwe's downward spiral continued, with two wickets gone before lunch. It was a strange innings, with fine strokeplay alongside some naive dismissals (there were three foolish run-outs), and dour patches interspersed with big hitting, including six sixes on a large ground. Taylor looked well entrenched at tea, when Zimbabwe were 134 for four, but the wheels came off quickly once Bond's slower ball deceived him into giving mid-on a simple catch. The exception was Mahwire, who hammered eight fours - four of them off Bond - and two sixes for a maiden Test fifty in 34 balls, the fastest-ever for Zimbabwe. But Mahwire's feat sped the match to a bizarre conclusion which, as at Harare, involved Mpofu. Mahwire reached his fifty with a single, after playing a ball on the leg side; Mpofu completed the run and then, without waiting for the ball to be returned from the field, jogged back down the pitch to congratulate his partner, and was easily run out. It was a farcical end to a farcical series.

Man of the Match: S. E. Bond. Man of the Series: S. E. Bond.

© John Wisden & Co.