New Zealand edge attritional second day
Zimbabwe A 186 and 189 (Mawoyo 62, Maruma 43, Arnel 3-47) lead New Zealand A 208 (Hopkins 69, Chinouya 3-44) by 167 runs
The first half-hour of the day was superb for Zimbabwe A; the last hour was disastrous. Zimbabwe's seamers began by scything through the New Zealanders, dismissing the tourists for 208, but the advantage was squandered when the last seven Zimbabwe wickets crumbled for a mere 73 runs and the home side were bowled out for 189. New Zealand require 168 for victory on the third day of the four-day match, a task they should complete safely unless there are major shocks in store.
The first thirty minutes in the morning were dramatic, as the fired-up Zimbabwean seamers shattered the back of New Zealand's innings. The tourists were 79 for 3 overnight, but in no time were reduced to 93 for 6 thanks to fine bowling by Tinashe Panyangara and Mike Chinouya. New Zealand's batting policy on this tour has usually been to play the first half-hour of the day with extreme care, but this time they seemed to abandon that plan and it was to their cost.
The first to go was Dean Browlie (10), who faced five balls from Chinouya that moved away before the sixth went straight on and through his defences to clatter into the stumps. Captain James Franklin played two fine strokes but was then caught at the wicket off Panyangara for 7 and moments later Jamie How turned a ball from Chinouya straight to midwicket and departed for 17 to leave Zimbabwe exultant.
The wicket-keeper Gareth Hopkins was still there, though, and he once again proved tough to dislodge. He and Jeeten Patel entrenched themselves at the crease, five overs passing without a run before Hopkins broke free and hammered Panyangara for 13 in an over. The pair batted almost until lunch before Panyangara returned to have Patel caught down the leg side, and Hopkins was left with just three tailenders for company.
But he handled similar tasks admirably on this tour, and reached a 67-ball fifty after lunch and had made 69 before he top-edged a slash off Trevor Garwe and was caught at third man. Brett Arnel again belied his reputation as a rank No. 11 with a good unbeaten 19 and the innings closed for 208, a lead of 22. There were three wickets each for the seamers Panyangara, Chinouya and Garwe, with the purposeful and determined Chinouya perhaps the best of them.
Zimbabwe, batting again in mid-afternoon, began confidently. The opening pair put on 44 before Steve Marillier, after being dropped in the gully on 16, ran himself out for 21. The innings then began to falter, Friday Kasteni quickly caught in the slips and Vusi Sibanda, having survived a skied hook that the keeper misjudged, trapped lbw by Franklin for 8. It was a disappointing end to the series for the Zimbabwe A captain, who is highly rated by the New Zealanders.
Tino Mawoyo, however, looked in fine form, driving with power and placement through extra cover. He ran confidently to his fifty off 64 balls, but then grew a little careless and enjoyed a couple of narrow escapes before being trapped lbw by Patel for 62. His dismissal hastened Zimbabwe's slide as, without any addition to the total, Malcolm Waller was lbw swiping across the line and Regis Chakabva, usually so reliable, managed to get himself brilliantly stumped without scoring. Zimbabwe A were 116 for 6 and the fight seemed to have ebbed from the innings.
Garwe briefly showed some spirit, but Timycen Maruma fought back in superb style, slamming four fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 44 as the tail subsided around him. Brett Arnel and Graeme Aldridge cleaned up the latter part of the innings, which ended for 189. Thanks to Maruma, Zimbabwe A go into the final day with a glimmer of hope, even if it is a small one. For the second day in succession, there was a disgraceful over rate by the teams, with even an extra half-hour being insufficient to complete the scheduled 90 overs.