New Zealanders 345 for 7 (Sodhi 54*, Southee 7*) v Zimbabwe A

'Happy with time in the middle' - Guptill
'Happy with time in the middle' - Guptill

The New Zealanders' batting line-up notched up four half-centuries on a solid day for the tourists against a Zimbabwe A attack who went without much reward on the first day of the tour match in Harare. They took four of the seven wickets that fell on the day with three New Zealand batsmen retiring out. Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling both made half-centuries but Mitchell Santner cut his innings short on just 32.

That was only after Martin Guptill and Tom Latham laid a platform. They posted 44 and dealt well with the early swing - the only hint of assistance the bowlers got - before Latham was caught down the leg side off Victor Nyauchi. Guptill kept going, alongside uncapped Jeet Raval, and took the New Zealanders to 111 for 1 at lunch.

Zimbabwe A's best period followed in the middle session when Gerald Aliseni had Raval caught at midwicket and Guptill dismissed lbw. The twin wickets did not prompt the New Zealanders to send in Kane Williamson but rather allowed opportunity for the rest and they did not disappoint.

Watling and Nicholls ensured Zimbabwe A could not celebrate too long. They scored 52 and 61 respectively and found the boundary 16 times between them to leave the bowlers frustrated.

Tendai Chatara, who will lead Zimbabwe's attack in the Tests, showed glimpses of what he can do when he had Luke Ronchi caught at slip without scoring but Ish Sodhi took New Zealand to the close in a comfortable position.

Perhaps more concerning than the fact that the New Zealanders still have three wickets in hand will be the fortunes of two of Zimbabwe's Test slower bowlers. Sean Williams bowled just two overs and conceded 20 runs while Sikandar Raza's seven overs cost 39 runs. Nyauchi and Aliseni, who have not been included in the Test squad, were the most economical.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent