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The Electronic Telegraph 1st Test: New Zealand v Zimbabwe, Match Report
13-17 January 1996.

Day 1: Olonga struggles

First day of five: New Zealand are 68-2. Rain curtailed play

Henry Olonga, the Zimbabwe fast bowler who was called for throwing in his first and only previous Test against Pakistan last year, struggled again with his bowling as New Zealand reached 68 for two on a rain-shortened first day of the first Test in Hamilton, in which only 21 overs were bowled.

Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand No 3, hit him for six fours in a four-over spell which cost Zimbabwe 27 runs.

Olonga has been working at changing his action, helped by Dennis Lillee's expert coaching.

If Olonga did not bowl especially well his speed and athleticism were plainly evident when he made a sharp sprint, picked up the ball, hit the stumps direct and ran out Fleming for 49 - another waste of the left-hander's remarkable talent.

Day 2: Twose's progress is halted by rain
By Don Cameron

Second day of five: New Zealand are 154-4. Rain curtailed play

Zimbabweans may be brought up in their hard, brown and dusty land to the notion that there can never be too much rain but their cricketers in grassy, green New Zealand are having quite the reverse experience.

By the end of the second day yesterday of the first Test at Trust Bank Park amid the lush farming land of Waikato, New Zealand's first innings had staggered along between showers to reach 154 for four wickets from the 54 overs possible.

This represented solid bowling progress by Zimbabwe and equally thorough batting by Roger Twose, who for close to four hours steered New Zealand away from danger.

He has had a very frustrating start for New Zealand after his first two Test appearances in India had been destroyed by rain.

In terms of frustration, Zimbabwe suffered more than Twose or New Zealand. They saw the greenish Hamilton pitch and gambled unsuccessfully that on the first morning any cloud cover would provide perfect seam and swing conditions for their bowlers.

As the second Test will start next Saturday on the unsympathetic pitch at Eden Park in Auckland, the Zimbabweans took the reasonable view their best chance to win a Test, and very likely the series, would be by bowling first at Hamilton.

Alas, the Zimbabweans - and almost everybody else - slightly misread the Hamilton pitch.

Heath Streak, the most successful bowler, did remove Craig Spearman in the first over on Saturday and Adam Parore in the 40th over yesterday.

Eddo Brandes had the distinction of bowling Twose for 42 after the transplanted Englishman had foiled the Zimbabwe bowlers from the start at noon on Saturday to five o'clock yesterday afternoon.

New Zealand cannot really hope to win now. They have three bowlers - Geoff Allott, Robert Kennedy and Greg Loveridge - playing in their first Test, and the senior Zimbabwe batsmen should be able to handle the attack with reasonable comfort.

Day 3 Report

The New Zealand first innings was closed at 230 for eight wickets, with Heath Streak taking four for 52 and completing his first 50 wickets in his 11th Test.

Then Chris Cairns showed some real bite with his medium fast bowling as he took three for 23 and Zimbabwe struggled to 82 for five.

Day 4: Whittall marshals fightback
By Don Cameron

Fourth day of five: New Zealand (230-8 & 129-4) lead Zimbabwe (196) by 163 runs

Zimbabwe'S desire to prove themselves in world cricket continued to show through as they fought their way clear of defeat on the fourth day of the first Test against New Zealand at Hamilton yesterday.

And during a breathtaking half-hour they launched a counterattack which left them with a possible winning chance on the final day.

Perhaps encouraged by a day of hot sunshine in contrast to the rain which spoiled the first three days, the Zimbabweans batted clear of defeat and took four wickets before the close.

Guy Whittall made a fluent 54, and Paul Strang, who hit some superb drives in his 49, stiffened the second half of the first innings, lifting the total from 82 for five wickets overnight to 196 all out, a deficit of 34.

All of a sudden in mid-afternoon New Zealand found themselves only 98 runs in credit, three top batsmen gone and with Greg Loveridge, their promising new leg-spinner, suffering from a broken finger.

Then, if Nathan Astle had dragged the ball on to his stumps, as he so nearly did at 79, New Zealand might have been in full retreat. He added 47 with Adam Parore.

By stumps New Zealand were 129 for four, with a lead of 163 and five wickets standing.

Zimbabwe must snatch three or four wickets quickly on the last day to sustain their hopes of winning. Otherwise the odds point towards a draw.

Loveridge will not be able to bat. On Monday, his 21st birthday, he suffered what appeared to be a bruised finger, but yesterday an X-ray showed a dislocated fracture.

A pin will be put in the joint, and Loveridge is expected to be out of the game for six weeks. This will take him out of the World Cup and most likely the tour of West Indies afterwards.

Day 5: 'Hiccups' nip Flower's victory charge in bud
By Don Cameron

Fifth day of five: New Zealand (230-8 & 222-5) drew with Zimbabwe (196 & 208-6)

Andy Flower, the Zimbabwe captain, came close to snatching a surprise win over New Zealand in the first Test at Hamilton yesterday, and afterwards just as narrowly avoided a fine for criticising the umpires.

The victory seemed likely when Zimbabwe, given 65 overs to make 257 runs following a generous New Zealand declaration, were racing along at 143 for three after 39 overs with plenty of batting still to come.

Then, with the total on 143, 151 and 177, came three curious umpiring decisions which cost them the valuable wickets of David Houghton, Alistair Campbell and Heath Streak. Flower was still at the crease, but opted to guide his team to a draw at 208 for six and finished on 58 not out.

Houghton was given out lbw by West Indian umpire Lloyd Barker, while New Zealand's David Quested decided not to give Campbell (caught at the wicket) and Streak (lbw) the reasonable benefit of the doubt.

At a press conference Flower said his team were keen to go for the win and were making a good fist of it until ``several hiccups'' halted their momentum. When asked to define the ``hiccups'', which were obviously the questionable umpiring decisions, Flower said he would like to but feared he might be in danger of a code of conduct violation if he did.

The New Zealand declaration at lunch on the fifth day came with the home side 222 for five, an innings based on a splendid 84 not out by Adam Parore, the wicketkeeper turned batsman whose recent form has been so patchy he was in danger of losing his place.

Grant Flower (59 from 91 balls) gave Zimbabwe a fast start and the early batsmen kept up the pace - until the umpiring hiccups destroyed their attacking rhythm.

New Zealand have made one change for the second Test, which starts at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday. Gavin Larsen, the methodical medium pacer, comes in to replace Greg Loveridge, the leg spinner who seriously damaged a finger after scoring only four runs and not even having a bowl in his first Test.

Loveridge will need at least six weeks to recover from an operation on the finger and is now out of the World Cup and subsequent tour of the West Indies.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk