Zimbabwe v New Zealand, only Test, Bulawayo, 4th day November 4, 2011

Zimbabwe face tall target on final day

Zimbabwe 313 and 61 for 2 (Mawoyo 27*, Bracewell 2-17) need 305 runs to beat New Zealand 426 and 252 for 8 dec. (Taylor 76, Williamson 68, Jarvis 5-64)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Zimbabwe will chase a daunting 305 on the final day with eight wickets in hand, after Doug Bracewell made two crucial breaches in an intense start to the fourth innings in Bulawayo. Bracewell's double-strike, including a wicket in the final over of the day, left Zimbabwe hamstrung at the end of a day when they had fought admirably for the most part.

Earlier, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor struck contrasting half-centuries to provide the ballast for New Zealand, who had to overcome a combative bowling display led by Kyle Jarvis before declaring 365 ahead.

Jarvis' effort forced New Zealand to spend more time than they would have wanted at the crease, but they took the field energised in the final session. Chris Martin got the new ball to buzz in at pace, giving both the openers, Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda, sore toes. Bracewell too hunted for wickets, with conventional seam movement either way. He trapped Sibanda with one that came in, before Hamilton Masakadza gifted his wicket with an avoidable cut, leaving Zimbabwe at a jittery 61 for 2.

The frustrated faces on the Zimbabwean balcony as the players trooped in exemplified just how drastically their day had unravelled. Zimbabwe had enjoyed what were in isolation a good couple of sessions in the field thanks to Jarvis, who chipped away at the middle order with his sprightly inswingers. Jarvis' breakthroughs came after New Zealand had laboured to 83 runs in the 30 overs before lunch, though Williamson and Taylor stepped on the gas thereafter.

With the sun out and the pitch offering little assistance, Zimbabwe's seam trio stuck to disciplined lengths in the morning. Their effort was initially aided by New Zealand's surprisingly defensive outlook, engendered by their use of a nightwatchman on the third day. Jeetan Patel's prolonged presence at the crease would have benefited Zimbabwe more than New Zealand, but four overs into the day he was cleaned up by Jarvis.

Zimbabwe's deficit, however, meant they couldn't afford to attack for long. Njabulo Ncube settled into a monotonous spell where he was consistently well wide of off stump, with a packed field in the covers. Williamson led New Zealand out of the mini-crisis, cover-driving languidly every time he was offered width, and defending well when he wasn't. The lack of movement meant Ray Price was introduced early, and Taylor checked in comfortably against his quick-arm flat deliveries. The odd ball that he spun in the morning, such as the ripper that veered away from leg stump in the 20th over of the innings, did too much to take the edge.

Taylor tried to force the pace in the second hour of play, but nearly perished in the process. He steered Ncube behind point for four before edging another wide ball past slip. Ncube then trapped him palpably in front with an indipper, convincing everyone except the umpire Marais Erasmus that it was out. Inevitably, Price too switched to a negative line from over the stumps, but that didn't faze Williamson. When he wasn't padding Price away or receding into the crease to glance him fine, he was trotting out to the flight and going over the top.

Price's leg-stump trajectory was straight up Taylor's alley, and he unleashed his patent slog-sweep to take the lead past 200. The acceleration continued into the middle session, with Williamson nudging Chris Mpofu to the fine-leg boundary to reach his half-century. He celebrated the landmark by sweeping Price for a six and a four, forcing the last of the close-in fielders into the deep. Taylor brought up his own fifty in more subdued fashion, before swat-flicking Jarvis over midwicket for a furious six as Zimbabwean shoulders began to slump in the mid-afternoon heat.

Jarvis wasn't to be discouraged, though. He kept bustling in with intent, bounding close to the stumps and getting every other ball to jag in sharply off the seam. Both Williamson and Taylor were caught by surprise when Jarvis sneaked indippers onto their pads. In between those two lbws, Price got a leading edge out of BJ Watling to carry to slip. Brendan Taylor dropped Daniel Vettori in the slips, but the miss didn't extend Jarvis' wait for his maiden five-for by much. Dean Brownlie perished to his stock ball too, losing off stump as he played back to yet another quick inswinger.

New Zealand batted on after tea, and Taylor called them in seven overs into the evening session, off which Vettori and Reece Young looted 40 runs. In hindsight, it was a pretty well-timed declaration, since it affords New Zealand a second go with a still shiny ball on the final morning.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • chapathishot on November 5, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    To all Zim fans be careful Taylor is playing too well and some teams who lack in talent but trying to become world beaters by importing talent from abroad are on the prowl.Talent is short in SA now they may go for ZIM,Ireland etc

  • Meety on November 5, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    2/132 - with 70 overs to go, Vettori is now bowling defensive. Match is nicely poised!

  • Nduru on November 5, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    I like the optimistic comments of the Zim fans, and it seems that BT and TM are doing exactly that! @LMaster. Zim have fought really well in this test and have acquitted themselves well, so your comments are unfair. Remember that NZ won the toss and thus had the best of the batting conditions (days 1&2) and the best of the bowling conditions (day 5), so their performance must be rated with that advantage in mind too.

  • Bokwe on November 5, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    Zim can pull a suprise, hoping Taylor stays longer at the crease. I am only worried that it might rain and disrupt Zim first Test win over NZ, a draw will be an unfair result for both teams.

  • dummy4fb on November 4, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    Though the win looks almost impossible, Zimbabwe can at least put up a fight here to try to play positive cricket and get near to the target as much as possible.

  • LMaster on November 4, 2011, 23:23 GMT

    NZ are doing really will in this test, possibly due to weaker opponent. Zimbabwe need to improve their standard quickly otherwise only team they will beat is Bangladesh

  • dummy4fb on November 4, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Given the talent still to come I feel Zimbabwe can pull this off. Yes its a day 5 pitch - but if we can keep wickets in hand until the last session, we can have a swing. I am not putting this one past Zimbabwe. We have nothing to lose so i say B. Taylor should match R. Taylor (that is cool!) and try and win this match, make a game of it, a real spectacle for the fans. Whichever way it pans out, i'm sure both sets of fans would be happy. NZ have come off an extended period out of the game and its excusable if they dont win while Zimbabwe have consistently been written off. Im all for going for the win. 305 is difficult, not impossible... I mean, 3 runs an over.. Jus hope the batsmen wont lose their heads. Need 2 of Taylor, Taibu and Waller to stand up and be counted. Mawoyo is a very slow scorer.

  • dummy4fb on November 4, 2011, 18:59 GMT

    I can't see zimbabwe winning from here.......................300+ runs needed on day 5 pitch with 8 wickets in hand......no chance, they'll do exceptionally well to draw the test even..........against vettori and men!!!!!!!!!!got to say some aggressive captaincy is paying of for ross taylor here.........go black caps!!!!!!!

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