Zimbabwe humiliated at Napier
Final Score: Zimbabwe*: 51 - 143 / 10 in 48.3 overs RR: 2.95, New Zealand: 495/ 7 d in 123.4 overs RR: 4.00
A shocking twin-collapse on the third day at Napier saw Zimbabwe lose their first overseas Test in about seven years by a massive margin of an innings and 301 runs. After New Zealand declared at 495 for 7, a horror show of batting unfolded as the visitors imploded twice in a matter two sessions. Their first innings score of 51 made the follow-on just a formality and second time around, the regular batsmen sunk without a fight but the tail wagged a bit to take the score to 143. New Zealand used the extra half-hour but required five minutes of it to complete one of the most lop-sided victories in cricket.
When the day started, very few people would have thought about a result after three-fourths of the second day was washed out. New Zealand carried on batting from their overnight score of 392 and added 103 runs to it before unleashing their bowlers. The highlight of the morning was BJ Watling’s maiden ton.
Zimbabwe after their readmission into the fold of Test cricket had shown lot of courage with the bat in their first outing against the same opponents at home. But, four months down the line, the batting fell like nine pins. The top five batsmen had scores of 2, 0, 6, 9 and 2. Without Malcolm Waller’s 23, the Zimbabwean score card could have easily resembled a phone number, the bottom five read 3, 3, 3, 0 and 0. The result- Zimbabwe’s lowest total ever in Tests.
Having been shot out for 51, Zimbabwe had no time to introspect as to what went wrong or what could be done to prevent a repeat. The openers were back at the crease after the follow-on was enforced. Trailing by 444, they had nowhere to escape. The New Zealand bowlers were once again at them, striking as hard as they could.
Second time around, the collapse started on similar lines but the spoils were not shared like the first innings. Chris Martin scythed through the top-order to return with figures of 6 for 26. With visitors tottering at 12 for three after the Post-Lunch session, it became abundantly clear that Zimbabwe would do well to take the match into fourth day.
At 6 for 37, the odds of a side registering two of its worst batting performances on a single day were pretty high but Regis Chakabva prevented the catastrophe by scoring a valiant 63, in the circumstances when nobody among his better equipped team mates was willing to battle it out. With Graeme Cramer and Hamilton Masakadza’s supporting, 97 runs were added forcing New Zealand to use the extra half-hour at the end of normal time. Chris Martin ended with two in two deliveries to complete an outlandish victory for New Zealand.
For the statistically conscious, it was New Zealand's biggest win in a Test match and Zimbabwe’s worst defeat as far as the margin is concerned.
Summary: Day One
The opening day had New Zealand written all over it barring the toss which was won by Zimbabwean skipper, Brendon Taylor. After he elected to field, the hosts powered their way to 331 for five with home skipper, Ross Taylor scoring a fluent hundred.
Due to the abundance of green on the 22-yard strip at Mclean Park, most captains would have done same as Brendon Taylor but other bowling attacks would have exploited the conditions in a better way. Throughout the day, Zimbabwe fed the Kiwi batsmen with boundary balls resulting in easy runs. In the dismal bowling performance by Zimbabwe- the discipline was missing, the intensity was not there and surprisingly, there was no fighting spirit shown by the bowlers.
The New Zealand opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill laid the foundation for a big score by adding 124 runs for the first wicket. While Guptill looked in prime form till he was caught behind off debutant Shingi Masakadza for 51. Although, McCullum was little slow at the start but he too went past his fifty.
After the century partnership was broken, Zimbabwe got one more in quick succession as Kane Williamson was run-out for four. The new man in, Ross Taylor started off cautiously even as McCullum scored freely from the other end. By the time he fell for 83, Taylor had got his eye in and took charge even as Dean Brownlie was dismissed for a blob.
Zimbabwe let another opportunity of wresting some control pass by as Daniel Vettori and Taylor pushed New Zealand forward with an 82-run partnership. The good thing about the two was they complimented each other well. They took ones and twos with regularity and at the same time didn’t let any bad ball go unpunished. Although, Vettori was stumped on 38, Ross Taylor went on to score his sixth century in Tests.
On a day marred by bad weather, only 15.2 overs of play was possible during which New Zealand strengthened their position by adding 61 runs to their overnight score to be 392 for five. Although they didn’t lose any wicket, but centurion Ross Taylor was forced to retire hurt after he damaged his calf muscle on 122.
While the Zimbabwean bowlers continued to err in their line and length, New Zealand had no problems in dealing with them. After Taylor limped off the ground, wicket-keeper batsman BJ Watling did the bulk of scoring and reached his second fifty in Test cricket. Shortly after the first drinks break, a prolonged spell of rain ended any chances of play for rest of the day.© eContent.in
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