Exclusive match reports from CricInfo www.cricket.org
Test # 1379
Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 1997/98, 2nd Test
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
25,26,27,28,29 September 1997
Result: Match drawn

Exclusive reports from CricInfo in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union

By John Ward

Match scorecard | New Zealand tour of Zimbabwe | Zimbabwe Cricket Union


Lunchtime score: Zimbabwe 97/0 (G Rennie 38, G Flower 55).

The Second Test has begun in Bulawayo in fine hot weather under a cloudless blue sky. The pitch is hard and dry, with a little green in it; groundsman Noel Peck hoped for a good batting pitch with a little in it for everybody -- some life for the pace bowlers and a little turn even on the first day for the spinners. So far this is proving correct, except that New Zealand's pace bowlers have been able to make no significant impact.

Both teams made one change. Zimbabwe replaced John Rennie with Everton Matambanadzo, now fit again, while New Zealand also changed a pace bowler, with David Sewell coming in for Heath Davis.

New Zealand's new-ball attack is very inexperienced: Sewell is making his Test debut and Shayne O'Connor is in only his second Test. Neither found his rhythm early on, and Sewell was struck for 19 runs in his third and fourth overs by Grant Flower, before giving way to Chris Cairns. Both batsmen looked confident from the start, with Flower, once he had got off the mark, continuing where he left off during his superb 151 in the second innings of the First Test. Several times he cut high and safely over the slips, and both batsmen recorded several other boundaries over the infield, all well executed. There was only one chance, a very sharp bat-pad chance by Rennie, when on 28, off Daniel Vettori to Stephen Fleming at silly point, who was unable to hold the ball. Vettori had come on early, for the fourteenth over, after the failure of the new-ball bowlers.

New Zealand desperately need some inspiration if they are to avoid a long, hard day in the field. Flower needs just another 15 runs to become the first Zimbabwean to reach 1500 Test runs, and if he succeeds he is not likely to be satisfied with that. Against a rather lack-lustre attack in good batting conditions, there are plenty of other batsmen hoping to cash in.


Tea-time score: Zimbabwe 179/2 (A Flower 24*, Whittall 9*).

Despite losing their openers in quick succession, Zimbabwe kept on top in this Test match as the New Zealanders continued to toil in the sun.

Grant Flower and Gavin Rennie continued their opening partnership to 144, just 12 runs short of the new record they established last Sunday. Their most dangerous adversary was left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, who bowled unchanged from the north end of the ground, flighting the ball well but bowling a leg-stump line to the batsmen which made it difficult to score easily. The amount of spin he got bodes ill for the New Zealanders who will have to face Paul Strang and Adam Huckle on this pitch; it is significant but not extravagant.

Grant Flower, when he reached 70, became the first Zimbabwean to reach 1500 Test runs. Always looking to attack, he became rather frustrated, and eventually moved down the pitch to drive, but silly mid-on Stephen Fleming took a smart low catch. Flower had until then looked set to become one of the few batsmen to score centuries in three successive Test innings. Gavin Rennie, his concentration evidently affected, went after a wide ball in the following over from O'Connor and sent a low catch into the gully.

Andy Flower and Guy Whittall came together and, with two new batsmen, the scoring rate slowed. Whittall looked a little shaky at times, but hung on until tea, while Flower's pursuit of adventure could have got him into trouble. When on 5, he swung across the line and skied a ball over midwicket; Chris Harris, running back, failed to complete a very difficult catch. Just before tea, he mistimed a straight drive against Vettori; the ball just cleared the bowler and had enough power to carry for 4.

Zimbabwe after tea will have two objectives to keep in balance: they will want to take advantage of a tiring attack, but also to keep their wickets intact so as to complete a large total tomorrow. New Zealand urgently need some inspiration or luck to achieve a breakthrough.


Close-of-play score: Zimbabwe 263/4 (Whittall 66*, Houghton 4*).

Zimbabwe finished the first day's play in a strong position, and will be expecting a first- innings total of at least 400 tomorrow. They will be a little disappointed, though, to have lost two wickets in the final session of play.

Guy Whittall, on 19 shortly after tea, was dropped by Adam Parore at the wicket, a difficult chance that bounced off his gloves. Daniel Vettori was again the unlucky bowler. He was to send down 34 overs unchanged before the second new ball finally allowed him a break. He bowled well almost throughout, although looking a little tired towards the end; most of the time he was looping the ball up towards the batsmen's leg stump, with some good variations and generally kept a brake on the scoring. He finally found some reward when Andy Flower, perhaps frustrated, moved down the pitch to him without getting fully to the pitch of the ball, and attempted a pull over midwicket, only to give an overhead catch to midwicket.

Alistair Campbell in his short stay at the wicket played a few very sweet strokes, but then fell to one of the poor strokes that have spoilt his record in the past; hanging his bat out to O'Connor, he gave second slip a regulation catch in the manner normally seen in catching practice.

In the meantime Guy Whittall, who had been in danger of losing his place in the team, was applying himself with full dedication this time. He passed his fifty and played some fine pulls and drives through extra cover. Dave Houghton was happy to play for the morrow, his only scoring stroke being a fine cover drive for four. With cunning and cynical manipulation, the New Zealanders deliberately slowed their over rate in the final hour to ensure they didn't commit the unforgivable crime of bowling more than their minimum required of ninety during the day. They may well be called upon to bowl a similar number tomorrow unless they can find some inspiration or luck, or unless Zimbabwe throw away their advantage.


Lunch-time score: Zimbabwe 350/5 (Whittall 112*, Streak 2*).

On a good batting pitch against a rather struggling attack, Zimbabwe will be a little disappointed to have lost as many as two wickets during the morning session. The weather has been warm and sunny as it was yesterday, but there has been a stronger cross-breeze -- not enough to persuade Daniel Vettori to change ends for it to help his spin, though.

Dave Houghton and Guy Whittall continued to bat with competence this morning, playing some good strokes. Of the pace bowlers, only Chris Cairns occasionally looked dangerous, but again Vettori bowled skilfully from the north end for most of the session. Houghton may be 40 now, but his strokeplay shows he is still a batsman of real class; the only handicap seems to be that he sometimes loses concentration more quickly. This is what happened today, when he drove perhaps without due care and attention at a ball from Cairns that pitched well up to him and moved in slightly off the pitch, and lost his off stump.

Whittall progressed without any alarms towards his second Test century, playing some good strokes through the covers and behind square on the leg side. He was becalmed on 99 for a few minutes, but eventually solved the problem by stepping out to Vettori and lofting him cleanly over extra cover for three. Paul Strang never really got into his stride before he played a rather half-hearted sweep against Vettori and lobbed an easy catch to backward square leg, where Harris, perhaps hoping to emulate his captain's deeds in the First Test, took his third catch of the innings.

Heath Streak played carefully until lunch and, barring surprises, these are the last two batsmen capable of putting on a good stand. The final Zimbabwe total might well be around 400, but there is the potential for much more. If New Zealand break through quickly, it could be less, which would be disappointing for the home team after what they have done earlier. The pitch is still good for batting, and Zimbabwe will need some good performances to be in a position to enforce the follow-on.


Tea-time score: Zimbabwe 453/9 (Whittall 196*, Matambanadzo 4*).

Guy Whittall is Zimbabwe's national hero at present, as he continued his superb innings to the verge of a double-century by tea. Zimbabwe have still not declared, though, putting an individual landmark above what would appear to be the good of the team. If they wanted every run they could get, more attempt by the last pair should have been made to get every run they could.

Shortly after lunch, Whittall showed how his confidence was improving in leaps and bounds by launching a blistering assault on the bowlers, especially Daniel Vettori. He began with a reverse sweep for four, and then launched into a fine array of strokes until Vettori had been forced out of the attack. His third fifty came off 57 balls. Heath Streak played a fine supporting role, simply keeping his end up, until he unexpectedly stepped right in front of a straight ball from Cairns without playing a stroke, and was palpably lbw.

Now the weakness of Zimbabwe's last three batsmen was exposed. Bryan Strang hung around for a short while but had still not scored when he was caught off the glove at second slip. Adam Huckle lasted a mere four balls before he nervously flicked down the leg side, to be caught at the wicket. Last man Everton Matambanadzo came in with Whittall on 168, but he showed much more adhesive qualities. Indeed he rarely appeared in trouble as he played everything he had to with a straight bat. New Zealand put their field back to try to keep him on strike and restrain Whittall, who occasionally broke out with a fine stroke, such as a reverse sweep, beautifully executed, a powerful straight drive or a superb six into the crowd at wide long-off. He did sky a ball into no-man's land near a conventional midwicket, but the unconventional field-setting had nobody quite within reach.

Tea was delayed for half an hour with nine wickets down, but Whittall was left stranded on 196 as he played through a maiden over by Cairns, whose sole intent was to stop him scoring, and Matambanadzo played out a maiden; the lack of real urgency seemed to show they knew Campbell would not declare at that stage. As Zimbabwe are about to continue, there could be quite a bit of time wasted by another late declaration. They would have to score quite a number of runs quickly to make it at all worthwhile.


Close-of-play score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 23/0 (Spearman 14*, Pocock 7*).

By the close New Zealand had made a sound start in their search for a draw, as the only positive incident for Zimbabwe during the session was Guy Whittall's double-century. Even this came at cost for Zimbabwe, as valuable time was wasted while he achieved this landmark.

As they had done in Harare, for a different reason, Zimbabwe continued to bat after the tea interval, and Whittall duly reached 200 with a late cut which went too fine for third man to cut off. His was an outstanding innings, more than most would have suspected him to be capable of, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Seeing his job as done, Matambanadzo slashed at a ball to be caught at first slip, bringing the innings to an end with Whittall unbeaten on 203. Zimbabwe's only higher Test innings was Dave Houghton's 266 on the same ground against Sri Lanka three years ago.

Zimbabwe used all their five front-line bowlers in an effort to bowl New Zealand out a second time, but failed. The batsmen did have a few uncertain moments, but held firm. Again Zimbabwe's new-ball bowlers were not particularly dangerous, with Heath Streak still not at his best and Everton Matambanadzo rather erratic. Paul Strang came on early and appeared to be posing the batsmen the most problems.

Zimbabwe will probably have to work hard to put themselves in a position to press for victory. On this good batting pitch, New Zealand's target to avoid the follow-on is not a testing one, and Zimbabwe will need their bowlers to pull out something extra and their fielders to hold on to their catches. With the spin bowlers getting some turn, it could well be Zimbabwe's two 'leggies' who hold the key to this match.


Overnight score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 23/0 (Spearman 14*, Pocock 7*).

It is a bright sunny day in Bulawayo, with less breeze than yesterday, and the expectation of high temperatures later in the day. It is Zimbabwe who may be forced to sweat, though, if the tourists put up as good a backs-to-the-wall fight as they did in the First Test.

The pitch has allowed the slow bowlers to turn the ball a little, and it may well be that Zimbabwe's leg-spinners, Paul Strang and Adam Huckle, will hold the key to today's play. Sadly, Heath Streak is not at present the match-winner that he used to be, but Bryan Strang is bowling more like his old self. Zimbabwe's first aim will be to dismiss New Zealand for less than 262, the follow-on target, but the pitch may well be on the side of the tourists. It should be an interesting day's play.


Lunch-time score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 88/2 (Spearman 46*, Fleming 3*).

Both teams made slow progress during the morning session, with New Zealand at times resorting to ultra-defensive batting in an effort to hinder Zimbabwe.

One run came off the first five overs, and 48 overs have been bowled altogether for 88 runs. Craig Spearman in particular took a long time to get going and was often most uncomfortable against Paul Strang. But, after suggestions that he does not have the capability to play a long innings at the top level, he hung on and was later more severe on the bad ball, playing occasional good drives and hooks. Campbell, in an effort to get wickets, rotated his bowling changes frequently, but the result was stalemate until well after the drinks interval.

Zimbabwe's only real chance had been when Blair Pocock drove at a ball from Heath Streak, and Dave Houghton in the slips dropped a sharp chance which hit him on the shoulder; he was on 24 and the total 51. Shortly afterwards Spearman, on 23, swung towards midwicket and hit Rennie at short leg on the body. Five runs later he was nearly stumped by Andy Flower, the camera proving inconclusive, and next ball he nearly chopped a ball on to his stumps. Frustrated, the Zimbabweans continued to indulge in the bad habit they have learnt from the Test world, of appealing for anything that hits the pad or is caught by close fielders off the pad.

Finally Pocock, swinging across the line, was adjudged lbw to a googly which turned just a little; he was fairly well forward but it looked a likely dismissal. Matthew Horne replaced him but never settled down. After 25 minutes he played back to Paul Strang and was likewise adjudged lbw by umpire Venkataraghavan, quite a straight-forward decision. Spearman played some good hooks and off-drives off Everton Matambanadzo while Stephen Fleming settled in before lunch.

For the fifth successive full session in the field against New Zealand, Zimbabwe have taken two wickets. They will need to speed up this rate to have a good chance of victory. They will have to hold all their catches, and Alistair Campbell will need to keep learning how to pressurise the batsmen, especially those who are not scoring quickly.


Tea-time score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 182/6 (Astle 46*, Harris 7*).

There was a fascinating afternoon session, due to some good leg-spinning by Paul Strang and Adam Huckle for Zimbabwe and some indiscreet strokeplay by the New Zealand batsmen. Zimbabwe took four good wickets, twice their usual ration, and are still in with a good chance of enforcing the follow-on.

New Zealand quickly looked more enterprising after lunch, but did not match their strokeplay with discretion. Craig Spearman fell in only the second over after the interval; he aimed a drive at Paul Strang and the ball, which may have hit the rough, flew off the outside edge straight to Adam Huckle at backward point. Even allowing for the possible unexpected turn, it was not a wise stroke to play so soon after an interval.

Stephen Fleming was the next to go, once again out after playing some sparkling and stylish strokes and looking on course for a big innings. He flicked Huckle hard towards short midwicket, where Paul Strang took a good catch tumbling to his right. Two balls later, Chris Cairns, the saviour of the first Test, pushed too firmly and was caught low down by Gavin Rennie at short leg.

The leg-spinners bowled for most of the afternoon, but Astle, who much prefers pace to spin, hung on with great determination and took full advantage of the short balls the Zimbabwe bowlers occasionally foolishly served up to him. Another valuable wicket fell when Adam Parore drove rather extravagantly at Huckle and skied a catch to extra cover. New Zealand required greater application from their batsmen, but Zimbabwe kept on attacking and reaped a good reward.

Chris Harris is there with Astle, and he showed in the First Test that he has the ability to fight with his back to the wall, although there were doubts about his ability to concentrate for long periods. New Zealand need another 80 to avoid the follow-on, and the final session today could be crucial to the outcome of the match. New Zealand, on their current record, have a weak tail, and a quick wicket after the interval might well be decisive.


Close-of-play score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 268/7 (Harris 35*, Vettori 5*).

Some much improved batting by New Zealand saw their team pass the follow-on target of 262 and live to fight another day. The primary hero was Nathan Astle, who batted with superb determination and discrimination for most of his innings, and he received good support from Chris Harris. Astle thoroughly deserved a century, and it was a sad moment that his first real mistake and his last came four short of three figures.

Astle's policy was aggression wherever appropriate, and he kept the score moving throughout the session, seizing the initiative from the Zimbabwe bowlers and putting pressure on the home side. In Grant Flower's solitary over, he hit a massive six over the scoreboard at wide long-on. Harris, regarded as primarily a one-day player, played a fine supporting role, although he did look rather insecure at times. However, he kept out of serious trouble and lives to fight another day. He became more aggressive as time went on, and three boundaries through extra cover were particularly impressive.

Astle was approaching his century just before the close, and it was noted how patiently he was awaiting the right ball to punish. As things so often happen in cricket, though, he moved down the pitch to Adam Huckle and aimed a powerful blow over the bowler's head which he intended to bring him to three figures and also to take his team past their first target of 262. The ball took a thick outside edge and skied towards extra cover, to be caught by Andrew Whittall, substitute for Heath Streak. He went off to a fine ovation, and it was left to Daniel Vettori to edge a ball past the slips for that vital boundary.

Zimbabwe now need to take the last three New Zealand wickets quickly tomorrow, and then make a better fist of their second-innings declaration than they did in Harare. They have less time to play with than they did in the First Test and, if the tourists can for the third time occupy the crease in a successful rearguard action, the most likely result is another drawn match and a drawn series. The onus is on Zimbabwe to seize the initiative.


Overnight score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 268/7 (Harris 35*, Vettori 5*).

The sun continues to shine at Queens Sports Club, and Zimbabwe will be hoping that it shines for them today. More resolute batting by New Zealand yesterday has moved the balance of this match slowly towards a draw, and Zimbabwe will need to pull something special out of the game if they are to record their long-awaited second Test victory.

Firstly, the New Zealand first innings needs to be finished off quickly, and Zimbabwe will be hoping for a lead of over 150. Then they will need to push the score along briskly in their own second innings in preparation for a declaration, which is unlikely to come much before the close tonight, if at all. Then they will have to bowl out the visitors a second time, in less time than they had available in Harare.

The onus is on Zimbabwe to dominate by sheer force of character. New Zealand will need dogged determination to ensure a draw, but they have already shown they are capable of this. Have Zimbabwe learnt enough to beat the odds and win this match? Boldness may well be necessary.


Lunch-time score: Zimbabwe 461; New Zealand 369/7 (Harris 70*, Vettori 70*).

This was a frustrating morning for Zimbabwe, who saw their fading hopes of a second Test win and a first series win virtually disappear during a fine eighth-wicket partnership by the overnight pair. It was a case of deja vu for Zimbabwe, who have so often allowed the later opposition batsmen to manufacture a recovery, most notably in Pakistan a year ago when Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq put on 313 for the eight wicket.

The Zimbabwe bowling was steady but not inspired, and without Heath Streak, off the field with a side strain. This was said to be a precautionary measure, to try to ensure that he is fit enough for Wednesday's one-day international. None of the bowlers were able to make much of an impact, and Daniel Vettori in particular impressed with some fine strokes.

Zimbabwe's fielding has still not come right, and Vettori, on 44, was dropped low down at mid-on by Everton Matambanadzo off Grant Flower. In Bryan Strang's previous over, the same fielder had moved in from the long-leg boundary to field a ball and was slow moving back to position; Vettori hooked the next ball over his head into the position where he should have been, for a one-bounce four. Had Zimbabwe fielded to their usual standard this series, they would surely have won the First Test and probably been well on the way in this match.

Harris and Vettori continued to concentrate well and punish the loose ball, and both have now reached their highest Test scores. Zimbabwe urgently need a breakthrough, but even that will be unlikely to bring them victory now. Only a major batting collapse by one or both teams can save this Test from being another draw. This pitch is helping the bowlers, especially spinners, a little, but neither side has the bowling strength to make the most of it.


Tea-time score: Zimbabwe 461 and 62/0 (Rennie 20*, G Flower 36*). New Zealand 403.

Zimbabwe may have little chance of winning this match now, but they are determined to make every possible effort. They finally bowled New Zealand out to take a first-innings lead of 58, and played very positively to extend that lead to 120 by tea.

Chris Harris fell in the second over after tea: trying to force Huckle through the off-side field, he received a ball that spun sharply and rebounded from the inside edge on to his stumps. He had played an invaluable innings, especially for one who is often regarded as a one-day specialist. Daniel Vettori was still there, batting with tremendous maturity like a true all-rounder, and proceeding towards his century. Disaster struck when he called Shayne O'Connor for a quick single to Grant Flower at extra cover; his partner was late responding and was easily run out.

Vettori continued to hit the loose ball cleanly and was prepared to trust his new partner David Sewell to keep his end up. But he was to be denied -- for the present, at least -- the honour of becoming New Zealand's youngest ever century-maker; driving at Huckle, he was caught low down by Bryan Strang moving across from mid-off. This gave Adam Huckle his sixth wicket of the innings.

Zimbabwe in reply began positively, Grant Flower getting off the mark with a cracking drive to the boundary over the covers, and he and Gavin Rennie continued to collect runs at a goodly rate off an unimpressive opening attack. Sewell sprayed the ball all over the place; O'Connor bowled straighter and was consequently much more expensive. Zimbabwe can be expected to keep looking for quick runs during the final session, which should provide some entertaining cricket.


Close-of-play score: Zimbabwe 461 and 152/3 (Whittall 41*, Campbell 19*); New Zealand 403.

Zimbabwe's efforts to record a now fairly unlikely victory in the Second Test encountered a hiccup during mid-session, with three quick wickets falling, but they should have made themselves safe from defeat by the close.

After tea, Grant Flower continued to dominate the bowling, assisted by Gavin Rennie. But he will still be cursing himself for attempting a very risky third run to take him to another fifty. He clipped a ball to deep midwicket and decided to take a chance on Spearman's throw to the bowler's end. It was not the most brilliant of throws, but it was enough to find him marginally short of his crease. His 49 had come off only 46 balls.

The effect on his team was considerable, and the innings lost its impetus. Rennie became bogged down, and then swung wildly across the line to be found lbw to Astle. Then Andy Flower, who never found his timing, drove hard back down the pitch, only for Chris Harris to dive to his right and pick up a brilliant caught-and-bowled. For a while the scoring dried up almost completely as Guy Whittall and Alistair Campbell realised the possibility of a collapse and dug themselves in.

Whittall, in prime form and confidence after his first-innings double-century, later opened up and led a vicious assault on the left-arm spin of Daniel Vettori, hitting him for 4, 4, 4 and 6 over midwicket off successive deliveries. In Vettori's next over, Campbell joined in with 12 runs off the over, but the Zimbabwe captain played few other attacking strokes during his innings.

Zimbabwe are 210 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand, and will be looking to declare probably late in the morning session tomorrow, if not at lunch, given the defensive thinking that seems to be dominant. However, on such a good pitch that is understandable, although the two leg-spinners may have a strong influence.


Overnight score: Zimbabwe 461 and 152/3 (Whittall 41*, Campbell 19*). New Zealand 403.

The likelihood is that this Second Test match will peter out into a fairly dull draw today, leaving an inconclusive series and disappointment for Zimbabwe. But the legendaryfat lady will not sing for another five or six hours' play, so no hasty verdicts should be made yet.

Zimbabwe, 210 ahead, will probably be thinking of a declaration at about lunch-time, with a lead of well over 300. Not particularly enterprising, but the presence of Chris Cairns in the opposition is an inhibiting factor that would cause any captain to think twice before declaring. Cairns, if he gets his eye in, is a man who can make a monkey of any declaration. There is a possibility that New Zealand might collapse in the final two sessions, but they have shown they have the determination and resilience to make this unlikely. Paul Strang and Adam Huckle will be hoping for more spin from the pitch, but the ball is still bouncing very evenly and, in retrospect, the pitches for this series have been just too good for two teams deprived of the services or full fitness of their main strike bowlers.


Lunch-time score: Zimbabwe 461 and 227/8 dec; New Zealand 403 and 28/0 (Pocock 9*, Spearman 19*).

Alistair Campbell surprised the majority of cricket followers with a declaration which has been variously described as attacking, risky and an unjustified gamble. New Zealand have a target of 286 to win in a minimum of 68 overs on a pitch which is still playing very true, and against a bowling attack deprived of its spearhead.

Zimbabwe, desperate for a victory in a series they have dominated until now, showed from the start this morning that they were going to play positively in the quest for a win. They were handicapped in their hunt for quick runs by a few injudicious strokes and some sheer bad luck. Campbell himself began the day with some superb drives and cuts, looking the class batsman he is. But disaster struck, as he straight-drove Harris, who dropped a hand on the ball which fortuitously rebounded on to the stumps with Guy Whittall out of his crease. Whittall was out in exactly the same way in Harare when doing the right thing by backing up -- twice in successive matches. Will this be enough to make the legislators realise that something needs to be done to eliminate this kind of fortuitous dismissal? Not a chance, I'm sure!

Dave Houghton played some good strokes and a keen battle was anticipated between him and Daniel Vettori. However, Houghton, as in Harare, was a little short of discretion in chasing quick runs; he stepped up the pitch to aim a massive blow over the extra cover boundary, but instead sliced a catch directly to backward point.

Then came two borderline decisions in the same over. Paul Strang attempted to turn Vettori to leg and was struck on the pad by an arm ball; the umpire adjudged that it would have nudged leg stump. Then Heath Streak, hesitating briefly in responding to the call for a quick single by Campbell, was run out with his bat on the line, as shown by the television cameras.

Bryan Strang, dropped before scoring off a firm push to a close fielder, played some strokes from his own original textbook before being bowled having a big swing. Campbell seemed preoccupied with his approaching fifty for a while, but afterwards led Adam Huckle off the field at 11.27.

Streak, with a side strain that may well keep him out of Wednesday's match, did not open the bowling for Zimbabwe, and Everton Matambanadzo again proved rather expensive. Craig Spearman and Blair Pocock were soon pushing the score along at an enterprising rate, and the feeling persists that, in these circumstances, Zimbabwe may have backed a loser. They deserve better for their enterprise and for the fact that they have dominated the series to date; it would be a simple injustice were New Zealand to win simply by virtue of a good final afternoon in the series. All is not lost yet, by any means, but Zimbabwe may be stretched to pull what is necessary out of the bag.


Tea-time score: Zimbabwe 461 and 227/8 dec; New Zealand 403 and 139/3 (Fleming 21*, Astle 0*).

This match is still very much in the balance, with the potential to stage a memorable finish, as did the match here against England last year. But, for the first time in the series, the scale appears to have tipped slightly in New Zealand's favour. The tourists require another 147 runs to win in a minimum of 31 overs, and Chris Cairns, who must be Zimbabwe's main worry, is still to come.

Again Zimbabwe have relied mainly on their spinners, with Adam Huckle bowling unchanged throughout the afternoon. Bryan Strang might well have a lot more work to do during the evening session, as he is the bowler most likely to put a break on the scoring. Huckle has bowled some good balls, but he has been expensive; although he takes wickets, he still has a tendency to be erratic and to pitch too short. There is a worn patch on the pitch at the opposite end, just outside the right-hander's leg stump, and the ball turns sharply when it hits it; however, it has not yet brought a wicket for the bowlers who have operated from that end.

Fortune has perhaps tended to favour New Zealand during the afternoon session. Blair Pocock, on 16, played a rash drive and skied the ball just clear of two cover fielders. Craig Spearman was first to go, caught at slip off a ball from Huckle that turned sharply. Matthew Horne looked uncertain to start with, and eventually fell the same way, caught at slip off the glove. Stephen Fleming, when on 13, played back and was beaten by a flipper from Huckle, and it was hard to see on the television replay why the umpire rejected the lbw appeal. Zimbabwe took another wicket just before tea when Pocock, after reaching his fifty, swung against the spin -- Huckle again -- and skied a catch near the midwicket boundary to Paul Strang, who took a good catch looking into the sun.

Mention must be made of the superb fielding of Everton Matambanadzo, who did his utmost to redeem his mistakes of yesterday with an outstanding effort, saving many runs. The final session is about to start, and it could be a cliffhanger.

CLOSE-OF-PLAY REPORT, FIFTH DAY, SECOND TEST MATCH, ZIMBABWE v NEW ZEALAND, at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, Monday 29 September 1997 by John Ward

Final score: Zimbabwe 461 and 227/8 dec; New Zealand 403 and 275/8. Match drawn.

The second successive Test match went down to the penultimate ball, and the series was drawn. Both teams were in this one right to the last over, and Alistair Campbell's unexpected declaration was vindicated and as close to being perfect in its timing as possible -- probably more perfect than he would have liked.

Zimbabwe, though, would be the more disappointed of the two teams, having hoped two weeks ago for a second Test victory and a first series win, and got neither. It could well have been a time for saying, "If only ..." If only the breaks had gone Zimbabwe's way on the final day, instead of which they had some unlucky or borderline dismissals when batting in the morning, and a crucial lbw appeal turned down against Stephen Fleming when he had 13. But a more pertinent "if only" was "if only we had caught better." Had Zimbabwe's catching been up to its usual standard, the country would probably have won both Tests. The early start to the season is an explanation, or possibly an excuse, with coach Dave Houghton not arriving back in the country until ten days before the first match against the tourists.

Four difficult catches were dropped, and a run-out opportunity missed, early on in the final session, and with this in mind Zimbabwe were perhaps fortunate not to lose. Stephen Fleming was the main beneficiary and his 75 was the most vital innings for New Zealand. After tea, though, he and Nathan Astle became rather bogged down, and the team fell a little further behind the scoring rate than they would have liked. Zimbabwe bowled their two leg-spinners throughout the final session, but paradoxically set defensive fields for them. They also deliberately wasted time in order not to bowl more than the requisite 68 overs, as New Zealand had in Harare.

At drinks, New Zealand appeared well on course for victory, at 202 for three. But the slide began when Astle hit a catch straight to Grant Flower at midwicket. Chris Cairns came in next, the crucial figure at this stage of the match; the result might well have depended on his success or failure. The jubilation of the Zimbabweans was obvious when he was out to a fine catch by Dave Houghton at extra cover. This was Adam Huckle's tenth wicket in the match, and he was the first Zimbabwean to achieve this feat in Test cricket.

Another vital wicket fell when luck finally turned its back on Fleming, who apart from his chances played a fine innings. Attempting a second run from a hit by Adam Parore, he was run out by a fine throw from Paul Strang from deep midwicket. Parore soon afterwards skied a ball just clear of the fielders, and Chris Harris survived a run-out appeal, the third umpire's camera being inadequate for the occasion.

36 were required off the last five overs. Parore hit a catch straight to Guy Whittall at wide long-on, and Vettori joined Harris. These two gallantly tried to keep their team in the contest, but the scoring rate fell somewhat -- 22 needed off the last two overs, and 12 off the last. Vettori missed the first from Paul Strang and then drove the next through the covers. He turned for the second, but was sent back in midpitch by Harris. Dave Houghton's good throw put paid to him. Hopefully Houghton's catch and run-out will atone in his mind for an otherwise difficult day in the field and not lead to thoughts that it was time he retired.

This was the end of New Zealand's challenge. Had he received a bad enough ball, he might have tried to put it into the crowd, but Strang gave him no chance, and he played out the final four deliveries defensively, with 11 runs needed and Zimbabwe's fielders back on the boundary until the final ball.

So ended a series Zimbabwe could and should have won. They dominated the play -- Grant Flower and Guy Whittall won the two Man-of-the-Match awards and Flower the Man of the Series -- but they are still finding it difficult to learn how to win. This series should at least have taught them some valuable lessons.

Match scorecard | New Zealand tour of Zimbabwe | Zimbabwe Cricket Union

Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:14