Zimbabwe v New Zealand, only Test, Bulawayo, 1st day November 1, 2011

Guptill, Taylor put NZ in control on flat pitch

New Zealand 275 for 3 (Guptill 109, Taylor 76*, Williamson 49) v Zimbabwe
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

New Zealand's batsmen had the opportunity to dominate Zimbabwe on a lifeless Bulawayo surface but a cautious approach against restricting lines and fielders in run-saving positions limited their first day of Test cricket since January 2011 to a good one. With the bowling mostly as flat as the pitch, a gifted wicket in each session - including that of centurion Martin Guptill - let Zimbabwe escape from having a fruitless day, though they didn't help themselves by not taking the rare tough chances.

That New Zealand were three men down was due to Brendon McCullum's impatience, Kane Williamson's slowness in getting back into his crease and Guptill finding midwicket off a long hop. Ross Taylor and BJ Watling survived some close moments against the second new ball - the only time Zimbabwe's seamers created any sort of pressure - to end a solid, if unspectacular, day for their side.

Guptill and Taylor did not look like getting dislodged as they worked the bowling around in a 132-run stand for the third wicket, both men unwilling to do anything extravagant. Guptill batted with care, going without runs for prolonged periods as the Zimbabwe seamers bowled straight with either a short mid-off or short mid-on in place after lunch. With Ray Price bowling a leg-stump line from over the wicket, the onus was on New Zealand to either unsettle the bowling or make a mistake. They did neither, waiting for loose deliveries and putting them away.

After a quiet period, Guptill skipped out of the crease to loft Price inside-out over long-off for six to move to 99. A pulled boundary off a long hop gave him his second Test hundred but he was out soon after, pulling a similar one from Hamilton Masakadza straight to midwicket.

Guptill's dismissal was similar to the way his two team-mates had fallen before him. After Taylor opted to bat in friendly conditions, McCullum threw away the opportunity to make a big score when he dragged an attempted pull off Kyle Jarvis onto his stumps.

Williamson and Guptill carried on unfettered but Zimbabwe had another gift coming their way when Williamson was run-out after lunch in freakish fashion. He tried to avoid a throw to the wicketkeeper from the bowler Ray Price but ended up being just short of his crease as he dragged his foot back.

The placidity of the wicket was on display as early as the second over when consecutive deliveries from Njabulo Ncube - one of five debutants in the game - bounced in front of Regis Chakabva, keeping wicket as Tatenda Taibu played as a specialist batsman. Guptill soon warmed up with three fours in Jarvis' third over, the second of which flew on the up between backward point and gully.

Zimbabwe had a couple of chances against Guptill; once when a powerful drive off Price went through the bowler's hands at head height just before lunch and again when Price could not get down in time at short mid-on as a punch went through his legs. With the three fast bowlers failing to get anything out of the surface, Price bowled a lot of overs and even part-timers Masakadza and Malcolm Waller were pressed into action.

How easy it was for the batsmen was evident when Guptill just plonked his front foot out and smashed Price for a straight six. Williamson looked a lot more fluent than Guptill, using his feet to loft Price for consecutive boundaries and timing the ball into the gaps off the seamers till he became the second New Zealand batsman to give it away when no bowler looked like getting him out.

In his first Test as captain, Taylor batted safely, going hard only at the cut when offered width and driving pleasingly through the off side. He was fortunate when Chakabva missed a sharp diving chance down the leg side off the second new ball. Watling became the next man to be let off as stumps approached when neither of Price and Chakabva went for a thick edge off the persevering Jarvis as it flew between them.

On such an unresponsive pitch, the excellent over-rate was the only thing going for Zimbabwe as New Zealand dictated the flow of proceedings, albeit at a leisurely pace.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 2, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    I think a middle order collapse from NZ today is the only way Zimbabwe can have a winning chance otherwise they will have to bat long for a draw on a deteriorating wicket, with the Vettori probe to deal with..Fascinating contest brewing at the QSC...

  • Dummy4 on November 2, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Well today it's pouring with rain, wonder if that'll make any difference

  • Stefan on November 2, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    Not a bad effort. From a Kiwi perspective, I'm just hoping we don't collapse to a middling score of 350 odd. Need to push on to 500+.

  • Andrew on November 1, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    Well, I knew when NZ won the toss that it woild be uphill from there. They get the best of the batting conditions in which to get a huge first innings score, and get the best of the bowling conditions on days 4 & 5 to bowl Zim out. So we will have to play very very well to salvage something. I need to ask one question: Why do they insist on giving Price important catching positions like first slip? His technique is terribly wrong and he is not agile at all. In the 3 tests so far, he has lost us about 5 chances that a proper slip would have taken. Something desperately needs to be done about this. Having said that, credit to his quick thinking to run out Williamson. At least that helped a bit.

  • Bryton on November 1, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    @Gerald, based on current season in the Test arena, coming into this game, he had 7wkts, which was tied highest with Jarvis, at a better average of 26.71 to Jarvis' 32, and more economic, 3.4 compared to Jarvis' 3.64, and the best strike rate of 47.1 aside from pat timer Hami's 42...dismally failed? Then everyone in the camp has failed.

  • Steven on November 1, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    Good to see NZ taking their time for a change, we don't get many tests so make the most of it. Slow and steady, with a few fireworks to finish, not the other way round! Bar Macca of course, that guy is in a world of his own.

  • Dummy4 on November 1, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    well zimbabwe has defeated nz in odis but it would be a uphill task to repeat it in tests. i dont find any quality cricketer in zim squad like andy flower,heath streak, andy blignaut

  • Dummy4 on November 1, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    @Gerald, you will realise that Mpofu has been the only seamer with decent pace for quite some time. Seam attacks work in pairs and no matter how good you are you will not have an impact if your bwling partner on the other end is not keeping up the pressure. The coming in of the new seamers (Vitori, Jarvis, Ncube) is a welcome relief and means that our bowlers just like batsmen can have a partnership. You may be right about Mpofu though.... its figures that speak after all, and his aint that good.

  • Dummy4 on November 1, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    guys lets be honest ,why mpofu in the squad ,its time to give others a chance ,he has failed dismally all the time ,

  • No featured comments at the moment.