Vincent and Astle make hay
New Zealand 454 for 7 (Vincent 92, Astle 116*, Styris 45, Vettori 48) lead Zimbabwe 231 (Taibu 76, Bond 6-51) by 223 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball
New Zealand enjoyed their expected run glut against the Zimbabwe bowling, although only Nathan Astle, with a determined century, really took advantage of the bowling on offer. At the close New Zealand had reached 454 for 7, Astle still there with 116.
The morning session was a batting bonanza, as Vincent and Fleming did much as they chose with the Zimbabwe bowling. When Fleming turned Streak wide of mid-on for a beautifully timed boundary he passed 6000 runs in Test cricket. Shortly afterwards, though, with his score on 18 and the total 100, he was perhaps fortunate to survive a very confident appeal for lbw against Streak, which was turned down by the bowler's long-time nemesis, umpire Darrell Hair.
This was their only scare of the morning, as Vincent ran to 50 off 61 balls and Fleming off 55. Streak's early overs apart, there was little consistency in the bowlers and the afternoon looked like being another one-sided session.
Lunch intervals, though, seem to have the ability to change situations in this series. Stephen Fleming fell soon after the break for 65, as he misjudged a ball from Blessing Mahwire that swung away from him and he edged a catch to the diving keeper, Tatenda Taibu. This wicket gave new heart to the Zimbabwean bowlers, who lifted their game, and shortly afterwards Lou Vincent, on the verge of a century at 92, played over a yorker from Heath Streak and was clean bowled.
There should have been a third wicket but Streak has suddenly developed a problem with no-balls and one of these had Styris fending at a lifting ball and edging it to Taibu. Astle struggled a little to start with against some good leg-spin from Graeme Cremer, but he survived with until tea with Styris as New Zealand took the lead with four wickets down.
Styris did not last long after the break, caught at the wicket for 45 off the hard-working Blessing Mahwire, who had tightened up his bowling since the morning session. The arrival of Brendon McCullum quickened the tempo, as he raced to 24 off 22 balls before providing Keith Dabengwa with his first Test wicket.
Nathan Astle had been unusually restrained at the other end, taking 94 balls over his fifty, but as McCullum and then Daniel Vettori attacked the bowling he too was galvanised into action and the runs flowed. Astle never lost his application and he brought up his 11th Test century off 154 balls.
Zimbabwe did not take the second new ball as Streak had been off the field with cramp and was therefore not permitted to bowl for a time on his return. Just before he became eligible again, Dabengwa picked up another wicket as Vettori (48) was superbly caught by Taibu off glove and shoulder as he swept.
In the last few overs New Zealand gave no sign of an impending declaration as they played out the day quietly. The determination or otherwise of the Zimbabwe batsmen in their second innings will decide if this match lasts three or four days.
How they were out
Stephen Fleming c Taibu b Mahwire 65 (185 for 3)
Moved away off pitch, low catch to keeper
Lou Vincent b Streak 92 (205 for 4)
Misjudged yorker, tried to turn to leg and bowled
Scott Styris c Taibu b Mahwire 45 (292 for 5)
Diagonal-bat slash to ball wide of off stump, easy catch to keeper
Brendon McCullum c Taylor b Dabengwa 24 (346 for 6)
Opened face to dab to third man, extra bounce brought catch to slip
Daniel Vettori c Taibu b Dabengwa 48 (439 for 7)
Sweep but ball brushed glove and shoulder; brilliant catch at short leg by keeper