Cricket: NZ aim to ram home advantage over Zimbabwe

By David Leggat

New Zealand's batsman Ross Taylor in Bulawayo. Photo / AFP
New Zealand's batsman Ross Taylor in Bulawayo. Photo / AFP

Having set a standard, New Zealand's job in Bulawayo starting tonight is to keep their foot firmly on Zimbabwe's throat in the second test.

The first test was won by an innings and 117 runs, and was as convincingly as that sounds.

The pitch for the second match on the same Queens Club ground, is reputed to be shaping as flatter than the first, in which case this is a time to be a batsman, rather than a leather flinger.

New Zealand's new ball work in the first test was impressive.

Zimbabwe slumped to 72 for eight in their first innings, as Neil Wagner charged through them with impressive hostility, then 17 for four late on the third afternoon. From there, a bucket of runs behind, there was only one outcome, for all lefthander Sean Williams' admirable defiance.

"We know the pitch doesn't offer a lot so it's pretty crucial with that new ball," left arm spinner Mitchell Santner said.

"If we don't take wickets with the new ball, it's about building that pressure on a reasonably flat wicket. We know its going to be a little bit tough through the middle. We just have to stick at it."

There is also a feeling Zimbabwe's batting will be a sterner challenge. Then again it could scarcely be worse than in the first test.

Zimbabwe having raised the idea of including a second spinner, offspinner John Nyumbu to provide support for captain and legspinner Graeme Cremer.

He managed to trouble New Zealand in the first test, and was unfairly treated by his final figures of one for 187 in 53 overs. Still, he troubled New Zealand's best batsman, captain Kane Williamson, on his way to 91.

Zimbabwe's seam attack barely threatened New Zealand, so trying a different tack is worth the effort. Nyumbu took five for 157 on test debut against South Africa two years ago - including AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy - but went wicketless against Bangladesh two years ago and that's been his lot so far.

New Zealand have had a decent break, having given themselves an extra day off courtesy of the four-day win in the first test. Their only issue might be whether left armer Wagner is fully fit, having had a knee strapped.

Otherwise, expect it to be business as usual with the team selection.

- NZ Herald

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