Zimbabwe v New Zealand, only Test, Bulawayo, 2nd day November 2, 2011

Zimbabwe steady in reply to NZ's 426

Zimbabwe 82 for 1 (Sibanda 53*) trail New Zealand 426 (Guptill 109, Taylor 76, Brownlie 63, Mpofu 4-92) by 344 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Zimbabwe ran through the lower half of the New Zealand batting, limiting the damage that Daniel Vettori and Dean Brownlie threatened to do in a brisk sixth-wicket partnership which had given the stalled innings the move-on it needed. Chris Mpofu and Ray Price took five wickets for 25 runs as New Zealand stumbled from 401 for 5 with Vettori and Brownlie in charge. Vusi Sibanda led a cautious, but solid, reply as the New Zealand bowlers failed to improve on their Zimbabwe counterparts in getting much out of a pitch which remained largely placid.

Vettori's positive approach with the bat quickened the tempo of the innings considerably and also rubbed off on debutant Brownlie, who had gone nowhere in the company of BJ Watling in a sleepy first session which brought only 52 runs at less than two an over.

Ray Price, who had tied New Zealand down with his line outside leg from over the wicket, was whipped for four between mid-on and midwicket second ball after lunch. Vettori took Price on again in his next over, chipping him for a six over mid-on. He then square-drove, pulled and cut Njabulo Ncube for fours. Brownlie warmed up to Vettori's method and charged out to Price to drive him for a straight four. He was now a transformed batsman, punching Kyle Jarvis for boundaries and soon bringing up his debut fifty.

New Zealand went past 400 with a Vettori flick-pull off Jarvis over square leg. The partnership was growing at well over four an over but Price's line outside leg finally brought him reward when Brownlie edged an attempted slog-sweep to slip. Mpofu had Vettori edging to slip five overs later for a 40 that was worth much more in terms of its impact. The tail caved in with Chris Martin getting his 30th Test duck and Mpofu ended with his best figures, 4 for 92.

Vettori's effort was put in perspective by the way New Zealand had stalled in the morning after gifting the fourth wicket of their innings to Zimbabwe. Ross Taylor departed in the second over of the day without adding to his 76, chasing a wide delivery to give Ncube and wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva their maiden Test dismissals. Watling and especially, Brownlie, struggled to find runs as Zimbabwe repeated the strategy which had kept New Zealand in check yesterday - bowling straight with run-saving fields.

A start delayed by 45 minutes due to rain meant there was some nip off the otherwise lifeless surface for the first hour, and Jarvis and Ncube used it to keep the batsmen cautious. Jarvis and Ncube made way for Mpofu and Hamilton Masakadza but Watling and Brownlie were not allowed to get away. Brendan Taylor put men at short mid-on, short extra cover and short midwicket which made run-scoring even more difficult against the lesser pace of Masakadza and Mpofu.

New Zealand settled into a pattern of playing out maidens before a short Mpofu delivery kicked at Watling and took the edge for Chakabva to take a diving catch. Price now began to bowl outside leg from over the stumps, further squeezing the almost non-existent run-flow. Brownlie cut Mpofu just before lunch for the first four in almost 15 overs but Zimbabwe had already won their first session of the game before Vettori and Brownlie got into the act.

Zimbabwe were in no hurry to push on with the bat with Hamilton Masakadza appearing to be playing for stumps all along. Doug Bracewell bowled six consecutive maidens on Test debut but the new ball didn't do much for the New Zealand seamers. Vettori got the breakthrough in his second over, trapping Tino Mawoyo leg-before with an arm ball after a couple of close appeals in the same over.

Sibanda pulled eagerly as usual - for three fours - and almost got into trouble when one attempt landed in front of a not-so-deep square leg. He reached his fifty with a worked four off Vettori in the last over of the day and will be key tomorrow in Zimbabwe's attempt to get close to New Zealand's total.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments