Match reports

Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2016

Wisden's review of the first Test, Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2016

At Bulawayo, July 28-31, 2016. New Zealand won by an innings and 117 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: C. J. Chibhabha, M. T. Chinouya, P. S. Masvaure.
Pretoria-born Neil Wagner was a lusty but lacking left-arm slinger when he left for New Zealand in 2008. And, when he returned to play a Test against his native South Africa five years later, his accent was all that seemed to have changed. But now Wagner landed in Africa reborn as a bodyline bruiser.
The fierce bounce he generated was a feat in itself, given the Queens Sports Club's reputation for pitches more suited to picnicking than pace bowling. And there had been signs that the wicket would be flatter than ever: two days before the match, an already heavy roller was loaded fore and aft with concrete railway sleepers. But Wagner rose above those challenges as surely as his deliveries steepled towards ribs and heads, and took a career-best six for 41. An hour before the close, Zimbabwe were all out for 164.
It could have been worse: four wickets fell at 72, before a stand of 85 between debutant Prince Masvaure and No. 10 Donald Tiripano. By stumps next evening, New Zealand were 151 ahead with six wickets in hand; Latham's fourth Test century was in the bank and Taylor's 14th in the making. Watling's sixth followed on the third day, as Williamson finally declared 412 ahead soon after tea. All the centurions batted within themselves, as is the way of New Zealanders who are not Glenn Turner, Martin Crowe or Brendon McCullum. To call their efforts characterless would be cruel, but their runs did not so much flow as trickle, the product of diligence more than dash. Latham's 105 stood out, but only because he achieved it in the city where his father, Rod, had scored his only Test century almost 24 years previously.
Williams (flu) and wicketkeeper Chakabva (tonsillitis) were not at the ground for the entire second day; Chari took the gloves and held three catches. But, as Zimbabwe shambled in the shadow of their enormous deficit, both were urgently summoned. By the time Williams completed the five-minute drive from his home to the ground, they were four down. Wagner removed Sikandar Raza before Cremer and Ervine nursed Zimbabwe to stumps without further calamity. As darkness fell, Williams returned home to care for his wife, Chantelle, who had caught his bug. During a febrile night, she fainted and suffered what she believed was a seizure; Williams dared close his eyes only at 5am.
Considering all this, his resolve - in only his third Test - was remarkable. A naturally enterprising batsman, Williams had been unable to take the fight to the bowlers in the first innings because of a stupefying dose of cough mixture and, in the absence of DRS, a poor umpiring decision - caught off his helmet from one of Wagner's bumpers. Second time around, he was clearly still suffering, taking every opportunity to rest on all fours. But when he was upright he stood tall and, after stroking 20 boundaries, mustered the energy to run two off Sodhi to go to his maiden Test century. To top it off, it was also Zimbabwe's fastest hundred, at 106 balls, beating Neil Johnson's record against Pakistan at Peshawar in November 1998 by a single delivery. He was ninth out as New Zealand wrapped up the game by tea, but Williams had proved himself an emblem of Zimbabwean defiance.
Man of the Match: L. R. P. L. Taylor