New Zealand takes charge after Wagner six-for
Neil Wagner picked up six wickets with his left-arm seam as New Zealand bowled Zimbabwe out for 164 and grabbed the advantage on the opening day of the first Test at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, on Thursday (July 28).
The Zimbabwe batsmen had no answer to Wagner’s pace and aggression as he used the short ball to good effect to take career-best figures of 6 for 41.
At stumps, New Zealand was 32 without loss, with Tom Latham batting on 16 and Martin Guptill on 14, trailing by 132 runs.
Having chosen to bat, Zimbabwe, who had not played a Test since November 2014, struggled on a benign surface. Brian Chari opened the innings with a boundary, but fell the very next ball to Tim Southee. Chamu Chibhabha (15) and Hamilton Masakadza (15) offered some stability with an hour-long stand, but once Wagner sent Chibhabha back, Zimbabwe lost two more wickets for the addition of just one run.
Then, after lunch, Wagner returned to strike three times in one over to reduce the home side to 72 for 8.
“Tactically it’s one of my strengths, trying to get players off the front foot and see if we can get a wicket that way,” explained Wagner of his use of the short ball. “Maybe get some doubt in their footwork … There was no swing or movement. We knew we had to try and use the surprise factor.”
Prince Masvaure, on debut, and Donald Tiripano, the No. 10, did what the top order couldn’t, batting nearly three hours in an 85-run stand for the ninth wicket. Masvaure hit seven boundaries in his 98-ball 42, while Tiripano was unbeaten on 49 from 162 balls, with six fours and a maximum. His was the highest score by a Zimbabwe No. 10.
Southee got New Zealand the breakthrough when he trapped Masvaure lbw for 42, before Wagner wrapped up the innings.
Southee finished with 2 for 28 while Mitchell Santner had 2 for 16.
Guptill and Latham batted with ease in the ten overs left in the day, finding the boundary five times as their side reached 32.