Lunch Zimbabwe 193 for 3 (Taylor 50*, Taibu 19*) trail New Zealand 426 (Guptill 109, Taylor 76, Brownlie 63, Mpofu 4-92) by 233 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Vusi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor batted through an incisive opening spell from the New Zealand seamers before capitalising against spin to steer Zimbabwe to a healthy position by lunch. Sibanda was fluent through the morning, but missed out on a well-deserved ton, while Taylor held fort despite not being at his best. Their efforts left Zimbabwe 34 runs short of the follow-on mark, with seven wickets standing, on a strip that had little in it for the bowlers.
Chris Martin and Doug Bracewell began the day with tight lines outside off stump, getting the odd ball to shape in through the air and off the seam. Hamilton Masakadza responded by routinely shouldering arms, until Bracewell sneaked one in sharply enough to disturb the off stump. Sibanda was more watchful, getting across to cover the line and play as many balls as possible. The first five overs of the day yielded only two runs, before Sibanda shook off the lethargy with two pleasing drives when Bracewell over-pitched. Sibanda survived a confident lbw shout in Martin's fourth over, but faced few challenges after that.
Taylor, on the other hand, endured a thorough test of his technique, as the seamers preyed on his tendency to defend without getting forward decisively. Martin nearly bent an inswinger onto his pads, but a thin inside edge saved him. Bracewell cut him in half with a sharp indipper, but the ball missed the inside edge well outside the line of off stump. Taylor also had a couple of rough moments against the short ball. Bracewell had him in a tangle with a bouncer that he was forced to belatedly fend away. He was also late on the uppercut on one occasion, before getting a pull shot away for four. That shot signalled the end of the fast bowlers' opening spells, and the pressure visibly dissipated from that point.
Sibanda welcomed Jeetan Patel by launching him for a straight six and lofting him over mid-off for four in his second over, before cracking him square for another boundary. Taylor warmed up to the spinners with a swept four off Daniel Vettori, before taking Patel for two more leg-side sixes. After having conceded only 23 off the first 13 overs of the day, New Zealand had leaked 41 off the next five.
Zimbabwe's offensive on Patel forced him out of the attack, and in the absence of sufficient bowling options, New Zealand turned to debutant Dean Brownlie, whose first-class career consisted of 17 wicket-less overs. Sibanda couldn't have asked for more amiable circumstances to bring up his maiden Test ton, but threw it all away by cutting a wide trundler straight to gully when he was on 93.
With 30 minutes to go for lunch, Zimbabwe had ceded New Zealand a second chance into the session, and Vettori duly probed away. He got Tatenda Taibu to edge from the crease, but the ball shot past Ross Taylor at slip. Thereafter, Taibu responded with characteristically positive footwork, whipping Patel with the turn and muscling Vettori over mid-on for boundaries. Taylor survived a straightforward lbw shout when he missed the sweep off a full Vettori delivery, and went on to bring up his fourth successive 50-plus score of the tour.
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