September 16, 2000

New Zealand strolled comfortably to a seven-wicket victory over Zimbabwe

New Zealand strolled comfortably to a seven-wicket victory over Zimbabwe just before tea on the final day after breaking the back and the spirit of the home team's batting in the first 45 minutes of play. Zimbabwe were dismissed for a mere 119, leaving the tourists a simple 132 to win. However, it was an eventful day.

Cairns first struck with two wickets in the third over of the morning. Campbell failed to add to his overnight 45, trapped lbw, then Nkala gave his wicket away with a gentle flick to Sinclair at square leg. Zimbabwe were 100 for seven and now staring defeat in the face.

Streak (15) hit Wiseman straight for four, but then turned him straight into the hands of McMillan at backward short leg; 110 for eight. Bryan Strang played a remarkably ungainly reverse sweep to the boundary before being bowled by a good slower ball from Cairns for 5. Paul Strang fought hard at the other end for 8 not out, but lost his last partner in Mutendera, who was given out caught at the wicket, apparently off his shirt, without scoring. This was Cairn's fifth wicket for only 31 runs, and Zimbabwe's timid display had cost them their last five wickets in less than 45 minutes. 119 all out was the lowest total in the ground's seven-Test history, and they left New Zealand a mere 132 to win.

New Zealand opened with Richardson and Sinclair, Horne having a thumb injury, but the major sensation was caused when umpire Darrell Hair no-balled Grant Flower three times in an over for throwing, causing his removal from the attack. Flower's action has been called into question at times in the past and he was no-balled in a Logan Cup match several years back, but this was the first time any action had been taken in international cricket. Local umpire Tiffin had taken no action while at square leg to Flower's bowling in the first innings. This gave another left-armer, Gavin Rennie, who has recently revived his bowling, his first spell in Test cricket. He was tidy but failed to trouble the batsmen until Richardson (13) tried to pull a short ball and was given out lbw, although it looked somewhat high; 27 for one.

After lunch Strang took another wicket when Fleming was given out lbw to a sharp spinner for 12, although it appeared that the point of impact was outside the line of the stumps; umpire Tiffin did not have a good match. New Zealand were 43 for two. Zimbabwe might have been able to exert some pressure had Campbell at slip been able to hold on to a sharp chance offered by Sinclair off Strang.

As New Zealand coasted home, Sinclair hit Rennie for a massive straight six over the three-storey media centre at the city (south) end of the ground. Strang became only the second Zimbabwean bowler, after fellow leg-spinner Adam Huckle against the same opposition on the same ground three years ago, to take ten wickets in a Test when Astle (27) hit a full toss straight at Nkala at midwicket; 93 for three.

McMillan had a lucky escape early on thanks to confusion between the keeper and short leg over a dollied catch, but then finished the match speedily with some powerful hits.