Zimbabwe v New Zealand, only Test, Bulawayo October 31, 2011

Injury-hit teams face off in Bulawayo


Match facts

Zimbabwe v New Zealand, November 1, Bulawayo
Start time 1000 (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

New Zealand have not played a Test since the home series against Pakistan ended in January 2011. They haven't won a Test since beating Bangladesh at Seddon Park in February 2010. They haven't beaten a top-flight side since the victory against Pakistan in Dunedin in November 2009. Tests series and successes have been few and far between for them in recent times and the one-off match against Zimbabwe is their only game ahead of the tour of Australia in December.

New Zealand are presently No. 8 on the ICC's Test rankings and need every victory they can get to try and bridge the gap between them and West Indies.

Zimbabwe's re-entry to the Test fold is only two matches old. They won the first against Bangladesh, and enjoyed the limelight of that comeback win, but lost the second to Pakistan, after which a succession of limited-overs defeats has highlighted the shortcomings of their cricket. Zimbabwe, however, had a strong first-innings performance against Pakistan in Bulawayo. A second-innings collapse caused a sudden defeat. Zimbabwe have had several impressive individual performances since them - most of them from their captain Brendan Taylor - and the challenge is to produce a compelling collective effort.

Zimbabwe managed one such collective effort in the ODI series, after it had been lost. They pulled off a record chase by gunning down a target of 329 in Bulawayo with one wicket in hand and a ball to spare. While their batsmen will take confidence from that effort into the Test, Zimbabwe's bowlers won't. They've struggled to strike and contain New Zealand's batsmen all tour, and unless they produce an extraordinary turnaround in form, the best Zimbabwe can hope for is a draw.

Form guide

Zimbabwe: LW (most recent first)
New Zealand: DLLDD

In the spotlight

New Zealand's squad has been strengthened by the addition of Daniel Vettori, who doesn't play limited-overs cricket anymore. He eased into the tour by taking 3 for 35 and scoring 19 and 32 not out in the warm-up game against Zimbabwe A. Vettori's ability to out-think his opponents and to bowl long spells of accurate left-arm spin will test the skill and patience of Zimbabwe batsmen. His plucky lower-order batting will also add depth to a line-up that Zimbabwe have struggled to get through.

Can Brendan Taylor continue his outstanding limited-overs form in the one-off Test? He scored back-to-back centuries in the first two ODIs and 75 in the third. All of those innings lifted Zimbabwe out of adverse situations and were superbly paced. The rest of the batsmen play around Taylor and Zimbabwe's fortune in the Test will be closely tied with that of their captain's.

Team news

Zimbabwe have two players injured ahead of the Test. Tatenda Taibu, one of their best batsmen, sustained a finger injury, while Brian Vitori, the fast bowler who has 12 wickets from five ODIs and five wickets in two Tests, did not recover from a shin problem that sidelined him from the limited-overs games against New Zealand. Allrounder Elton Chigumbura also had a knee problem, though, he hasn't been ruled out. Malcolm Waller, who scored a match-winning 99 in the third ODI, could make a debut, along with either Njabulo Ncube or Keegan Meth.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Tino Mawoyo, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt), 5 Forster Mutizwa (wk), 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Malcolm Waller, 8 Njabulo Ncube/Keegan Meth, 9 Ray Price, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Chris Mpofu.

Injuries to Kyle Mills and Jesse Ryder reduced New Zealand's squad from 15 to 13 but no replacements were called up on such short notice. Mills tore an abductor muscle and Ryder strained his right calf. There was more bad news for the visitors on the eve of the Test, with fast bowler Andy McKay down with a stomach bug, which means they may have only 12 fit players to choose from. Unless New Zealand decide to play two spinners, Jeetan Patel will be the one to miss out.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 BJ Watling, 6 , 7 Reece Young (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Andy McKay/Graeme Aldridge/Doug Bracewell, 10 Andy McKay/Graeme Aldridge/Doug Bracewell , 11 Chris Martin.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch in Bulawayo is expected to be batting friendly. The forecast is clear for the first day, but some rain is predicted on the second and third, after which it is fair once again.

Stats and trivia

  • Brendan Taylor scored 310 runs in three ODIs against New Zealand at a strike-rate of 107 and was dismissed only once.

  • Zimbabwe have played 13 Tests against New Zealand, of which they've lost seven and drawn six.

  • Zimbabwe have won only one Test out of 18 at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. They have lost 10 and drawn seven matches. The solitary victory came against Bangladesh in 2001.


"Daniel Vettori's arrival is a big boost for them [New Zealand], but we'll look to bat long and if we can take the game deep into day five then anything can happen."
The Zimbabwe captain, Brendan Taylor

"That one-day game was 42 degrees and our bowlers struggled to bowl longer than three- or four-over spells, so we're going to have to try and get a little bit more out of our bowlers in terms of spells."
Ross Taylor on the challenge of playing in Bulawayo.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dennis on November 1, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Watling is picked as an opener , sure the batting order is Mc Cullum ,Watling Guptill at 3 ,followed by Taylor ,Williamson , Browlie ,Vettori ,Young and the pace bowlers who ever they are .

  • Andrew on November 1, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    NZ's wicketkeeper is Young, not McCullum.

  • Luke on November 1, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    I think it's more likely that Young will be keeping, not McCullum.

  • Tichadi on October 31, 2011, 22:00 GMT

    @Nduru are you forgetting that the so called strongest Zim team that of Andy Flower never chased 300+ but this emerging Zim team did so. Same applies here mate don't right them off, the kiwis are a stronger side but they are beatable, just start by looking at thier current ranking.. That being said good luck Zim we do miss Cremer and probably need to try other top order batsmen like Ewing maybe bring back C Ervine too..

  • joe on October 31, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    bracewell should play ahead of aldridge, if aldridge is the future of our fast bowling then we are no chance. would have been an ideal tour to try out some of the young guys not 30+ guys whos careers are almost over before its began.

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    actually the probable above won't be right even though it's close. Queens will start turning after day1 so it's always two professional spinners in the team. probable will be 1 mawoyo, 2 sibanda, 2 masakadza, 4 taylor, 5 mutizwa, 6 waller, 7 meth, 8mushangwe/utseya, 9jarvis, 10price, 11mpofu. chigumbura won't play cos it's a turning wicket and his batting is not reliable that's why he didn't even bowl in A team. chakabva also does not bat consistently and ncube has not done enough for a test spot. good luck zim!!

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    go zim behind you all the way

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    May the best team win.... aww hell GO ZIM!!!!!

  • Andrew on October 31, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    Tough ask to win against New Zealand for the first time, especially if Andy Flower and co never managed it! But, I hope for a plucky performance, hopefully free from any batting collapses! Good Luck guys.

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    Going to be a good contest with kiwis facing the zambabwe at their truf.

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