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Taibu leads fightback after Bond onslaught

Shane Bond grabbed 6 for 51 but Zimbabwe showed courage to battle back from 75 for 6 to close the first day in a reasonable position

Cricinfo staff
New Zealand 48 for 2 trail Zimbabwe 231 (Taibu 76, Bond 6-51) by 183 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball

Shane Bond celebrates his second-ball wicket. He finished with a Test-best 6 for 51 © AFP
Zimbabwe battled back from a wretched start to end the first day at Queens Sports Club in a reasonable position. In reply to their 231 - and that had seemed a distant prospect when they went to lunch on 76 for 5 - New Zealand closed on 48 for 2. They have a long way to go, but at least this resembled a contest.
Shane Bond's opening salvo threatened to make this match as appalling for Zimbabwe as at Harare. Taibu won the toss and decided to bat on a pitch without much grass covering and under a clear sky. That advantage was lost on the top order as the first three wickets fell for just 9 runs. The second ball of the day from Bond swung back in, beat Dion Ebrahim's attempted drive and trapped him leg before. Stuart Carlisle fell in similar fashion and then Hamilton Masakadza, softened up by fierce bowling from Bond, went for a desperate hook and holed out to fine leg for 0.
Brendan Taylor and Craig Wishart fought back well, and for a time they seemed to have weathered the storm. They played some handsome drives and were looking threatening when a superb catch in the gully by Nathan Astle, diving athletically to his right, removed Wishart for 30. Two more wickets fell quickly shortly before the interval. Taylor played a disappointing slash outside his off stump to give Bond his 50th wicket in Tests - and he grabbed No. 51 with the next delivery as Heath Streak was caught behind off a thick outside edge to give Bond the remarkable figures of 5 for 11 off seven overs before lunch.

Tatenda Taibu digs deep on his way to a gutsy 76 © AFP
Zimbabwe needed a near-miracle to find respectability, and Taibu played a classic captain's innings. Beginning slowly, he gradually opened out, showing masterly shot selection against the rampant bowlers. He received good support from debutant Keith Dabengwa (17, and whose first scoring shot in Test cricket was a six off Daniel Vettori) and Blessing Mahwire, who held his end up gallantly in a partnership that realised 88 runs. Their defiance showed the top order what determination and a concentration on the basics could do.
Bond, with the old ball, ended Taibu's resistance as he perished hooking straight to long leg, and Mahwire soon followed, holing out at mid-on for 42. Bond ended with Test-best figures of 6 for 51.
New Zealand faced nine overs before the close, but, as had been the case at Harare, Zimbabwe made early inroads into their top order. James Marshall was the first to go when he cut Streak and Carlisle took a sharp catch in the gully.
The final ball of the day produced a second wicket among scenes verging on the farcical as Hamish Marshall steered the ball to gully and set off for a run. Both he and Lou Vincent finished at the non-striker's end as Taibu took off the bails at the other. It took the third umpire to decide that Marshall would not be back in the morning.