Flynn, Chakabva, Franklin star in high-scoring draw
New Zealand A 426 (Flynn 162, How 92, Ncube 3-47) and 280 for 5 dec. (Franklin 107*, Hopkins 73) drew Zimbabwe A 365 for 7 dec. (Chakabva 103*, Maruma 59, Ervine 55, Beard 4-87, Franklin 3-36) and 243 for 5 dec. (Mawoyo 125*)
Lively scoring rates and sporting declarations were not sufficient to generate a result in the first unofficial Test between New Zealand A and Zimbabwe A in Harare.
The hosts elected to field, and their decision was initially vindicated as the pedigree opening pair of Tim McIntosh and Peter Ingram departed cheaply on the first morning. However, Jamie How, fresh from a personally successful Champions League Twenty20 where he led Central Districts' winless campaign, counterattacked with a stroke-filled 92 off 96 balls. Zimbabwe's woes were complete when Daniel Flynn, who has played 16 Tests for New Zealand, went after their bowling in equally aggressive fashion. The pair added a bright 217 runs in 33.5 overs, a stand that set the tone for the rest of the match.
Flynn smashed five sixes and 16 fours in his innings and was fifth man out for 162 off 175 balls. Gareth Hopkins held the lower order together with a watchful 50 as New Zealand finished with 426, scored at 4.22 runs per over. Mountaineers seamer Njabulo Ncube and the 14-ODI old Malcolm Waller chipped in with three wickets each for the home team.
Unlike the visitors, Zimbabwe's top-order batsmen did not capistalise on starts, with Steve Marillier and Vusi Sibanda falling for scores of 38 and 46. Left-arm spinner Nick Beard caused a lot of problems as the hosts stuttered to 224 for 6 on the back of Craig Ervine's 55. Then followed a strong rearguard led by wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva, who has represented Zimbabwe in the shorter versions of the game. His fourth first-class ton, supported by Timycen Maruma's 59 helped the hosts reduce the deficit to manageable proportions, before they declared their innings in search of a result.
New Zealand's second innings ran into early trouble, and at 65 for 4 in the second session of the third day, Zimbabwe would have nursed ambitions of forcing a win. However, they had to contend with the captain James Franklin, whose batting has come a long way in the last couple of seasons. Franklin stroked his 12th first-class ton, and Hopkins weighed in with a solid contribution once again to lead the visitors out of trouble. Franklin declared the innings closed at 280 for 5, setting the hosts a target of 342 in a little over two sessions.
Tino Mawoyo launched the pursuit with his second first-class ton, an unbeaten 125 off 160 balls with 12 fours and two sixes, but a steady fall of wickets at the other end meant that Zimbabwe could never step up gears. With the score 243 for 5 after 54 overs, the game was called off, but despite the stalemate, both teams had reasons to be pleased with their efforts.