A New Zealand 11 had much the better of the final day of a tour match against Zimbabwe at Gisborne today.
The three-day fixture petered out to a predictable and tame draw as the composite side reached a run-a-minute 274 for five in their second innings at Harry Barker Reserve.
The match did not carry first-class status, leaving the New Zealand 11 free to take the opportunity to give as many players as possible time in the middle as some of their batsmen rounded off preparations for the one-off test against the tourists starting in Napier on Thursday.
To this end four batsmen had their innings curtailed by retirement, among them topscorer Kruger van Wyk, who made 61 punctuated by eight boundaries in two hours in the unfamiliar opening role.
Van Wyk has been included in the test squad as he and BJ Watling battle it out to assume the wicketkeeping duties, and Watling proved his prowess with the bat with 84 in the composite team’s first innings of 272 for seven declared.
Watling again chipped in with 20 today while test certainties Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson both hit crisp half-centuries.
Williamson, at first drop, was retired after hitting 52 off 57 balls, with four fours and two sixes, while captain Taylor helped make amends for his first innings failure to strike eight fours in a 63-ball 54 before he, too, retired.
As well, Daniel Vettori scored 41 not out to back up his first innings 49 and young opener Michael Bracewell made 26 before being bowled by Graeme Cremer and becoming the only batsman to actually be dismissed .
Zimbabwe resumed this morning at 328 for nine in their first innings and added only one run before tailender Ray Price was dismissed by Otago allrounder Sam Wells for 19, leaving Regis Chakabva stranded on 87 not out.
Dayt 2: Zimbabwe earn first innings lead
A three-wicket burst by Neil Wagner enlivened proceedings during the second day of the tour match between Zimbabwe and a New Zealand 11 at Gisborne today.
The Otago left-arm fast bowler snapped up three wickets in the space of 13 deliveries after lunch before the tourists went on to reach 328 for nine in their first innings at Harry Barker Reserve.
With one day remaining Zimbabwe hold a first innings lead of 56 runs.
Wagner’s input was timely after Zimbabwe were progressing nicely at 174 for three in response to the composite team’s 272 for seven declared.
Having resumed on 39 without loss this morning, Zimbabwe lost three wickets before lunch as Chris Martin induced an edge behind off Tino Mawoyo on 25, fellow opener Hamilton Masakadza hooked left-armer Andy McKay to Wagner in the deep on 24 and Forster Mutizwa came and went quickly for a duck.
But Wagner later struck just as it seemed as if Tatenda Taibu and Malcolm Waller could see their side past the home side’s opening effort.
They had put on 119 for the fourth wicket and looked at ease when Wagner had Taibu caught by Kane Williamson for 66, scored in 147 minutes with 11 fours.
Waller soon joined his colleague back in the pavilion for a 143-minute 58 with eight fours when Wagner collected an edge through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling then Elton Chigumbura was dismissed for a first ball duck.
Wagner, a South African who becomes eligible to be selected for New Zealand in April, ended with the figures of three for 86 off 19 overs.
Any prospects of the New Zealanders slicing through the lower order were frustrated by Regis Chakabva, who held the innings together by registering the tourists’ third half-century with a fine 87 not out.
Chakabva, who has so far struck 12 fours and two sixes, enjoyed an unbroken 10-wicket stand of 72 with tailender Ray Price, who contributed 19 not out.
Besides Wagner, veteran fast bowler Chris Martin commanded respect as he finished with two for 39 off 18 accurate overs while seamer Brent Arnel was difficult to get away in conceding just 25 runs off 17 overs.
The three-day fixture, which is not a first-class match, is Zimbabwe’s only outing before a one-off test against New Zealand, starting at McLean Park in Napier on Thursday, with one-day and Twenty20 series to follow.
Day 1: Encouraging first day for Zimbabwe
A solid all-round performance from Zimbabwe sees the tourists with the upper hand as their three-day tour match began against a New Zealand XI at Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne today.
The tourists are set to resume tomorrow morning on 39 without loss responding to the New Zealand’s first innings of 272 for seven declared.
It marked an encouraging day’s work from Zimbabwe, who were invited to field once New Zealand XI captain Ross Taylor won the toss. That was a decision Taylor had cause to question as his side slumped to 59 for four.
While the wickets were shared around the Zimbabwe bowlers, the New Zealand XI were held aloft by the middle order resistance offered by Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling and young Otago all-rounder Sam Wells.
These three were principally responsible for enabling a declaration after tea, particularly Watling, who spend nearly four hours over a fighting 84 before his dismissal via a run out prompted Taylor to spike the innings early.
Watling hit 12 fours and sharing valuable stands with Vettori, who made 49 in 96 minutes batting at No 5, and 125 with Wells for the sixth wicket.
Wells’ share was an impressive 65 in two hours, with seven fours and one six.
Earlier, Zimbabwe cut through the home side’s top order as Michael Bracewell went for a duck, fellow opener Kruger van Wyk managed five, Taylor seven and Kane Williamson 26.
Zimbabwe openers Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza were left to negotiate 14 overs before the close, something they managed despite offering a couple of chances the New Zealanders failed to grasp.
Mawoyo will take guard tomorrow on 23 with Masakadza on 15.