New Zealand captain Ross Taylor praised his players for not losing hope as Zimbabwe made a fist of a stiff chase of 366 on the final day of the one-off Test in Bulawayo on Saturday. Taylor's counterpart, Brendan Taylor, made a valiant, attacking century and took his team withing reach of the target, before they collapsed to lose the game by 34 runs.
"There were a lot of nerves, but the guys carried on and kept trying to push for the win, and that's why we're all very proud of each other," Taylor said. "We could have shut up shop with an hour and a bit left in the game but the guys were still fairly positive, so it was just a good positive day today and the guys can hold their heads high."
Zimbabwe began the final day needing a challenging 305 more runs with eight wickets in hand. Brendan Taylor was ably supported by Tino Mawoyo and Tatenda Taibu, who helped themselves to half-centuries, to give the hosts hope. However, Zimbabwe collapsed from 265 for 3 to 331 all out, with less than six overs left in the match.
Brendan Taylor's dismissal, after tea, was the turning point. Daniel Vettori then removed the well-set Taibu before debutant seamer Doug Bracewell cleaned up the lower order to finish with 5 for 85. Vettori claimed the final wicket, giving Ross Taylor his first Test win as captain.
"It's a strange game this Test cricket, getting seven wickets in the last session. We knew we could do it but it was a hell of a Test match," Taylor said. "Full credit to Zimbabwe because they gave us a great fight and they went out for the win, so it was a great spectacle out there."
Ross Taylor said this win would give the team a boost ahead of their tour of Australia. They begin the tour with a practice match against New South Wales XI starting November 18.
"Zimbabwe put us under a lot of pressure. But we know we need to raise our game a lot to put Australia under pressure in their home conditions," Taylor told APNZ. "It was nice to give some newcomers a go and see where they're at. Some of them took their opportunity, some of them didn't."
New Zealand leave Zimbabwe with a 2-1 series win in the one-dayers and a 2-0 sweep of the Twenty20 internationals in addition to the Test victory.