Craig Ervine scored his maiden test century and Peter Moor hit 71 on debut as Zimbabwe fought back in the second test to reach 305-6 in its first innings at stumps Tuesday and avoid the follow-on against New Zealand.

Ervine, a 30-year-old left-hander, was unbeaten on 115 after cracking 15 fours in 213 balls at Queens Sports Club to rescue the hosts from 185-5 at lunch on the third day in reply to New Zealand's 582-4 declared.

Moor gave Ervine solid support after lunch, showing no nerves in his first test with composed stroke play, including 11 fours.

The pair shared a 148-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Moor was eventually caught by Martin Guptill at midwicket off legspinner Ish Sodhi (2-41).

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It was a tough job through the morning session, and often a tough watch too, as Zimbabwe, going at two runs an over and who had started the day on 55 without loss made their way to 107 for three in response to New Zealand's first innings 582 for four declared.

The seam bowlers had toiled away asking challenging questions, and rotating ends for all bar the last seven minutes of the session. They were generally impressive, considering this is not a pitch designed to help anyone but batsmen.

New Zealand leads the two-match series after winning the first test by an innings and 117 runs.

- with NZHerald