New Zealand retain control
New Zealand need eight wickets on the final day after once again taking the upper hand against Zimbabwe in their one-off Test in Bulawayo.
All three results remain possible, but the hosts face a difficult chase of 366 and ended day four on 61 for two after Doug Bracewell struck twice.
Bracewell’s second breakthrough could yet prove pivotal. The seamer had Hamilton Masakadza, who had looked assured in reaching 19, caught superbly at gully by fellow debutant Dean Brownlie with what turned out to be the final ball of the day.
The tourists had earlier been made to battle hard as they looked to advance towards a declaration. Skipper Ross Taylor, who top-scored with 76, eventually called a halt to his side’s second innings on 252 for eight, with Kane Williamson having contributed 68 and Kyle Jarvis finishing with fine figures of 5-64 for Zimbabwe.
The hosts almost made the worst possible start in their second innings when Chris Martin’s first ball swung into Tino Mawoyo and struck him on the pad, but the ball had done too much and was missing leg stump.
Mawoyo got moving with a cover drive for four in Martin’s next over and Vusi Sibanda, who struck a valuable 93 in the first innings, followed suit off a Bracewell half-volley before surviving another huge lbw shout from Martin.
The finger finally went up when Bracewell swung one into Sibanda, who was sent on his way for 13.
New man Masakadza, one of the more experienced names in Zimbabwe’s line-up, hit three fours early in his innings and looked set to accompany Mawoyo through to the close.
However, after surviving an lbw appeal earlier in the day’s final over, he cut loosely to gully and was brilliantly caught by a diving Brownlie.
Mawoyo will resume tomorrow on 27, with his side requiring a further 305 to secure an unlikely victory.
The Black Caps, who resumed this morning 141 ahead on 28 for two, added 83 runs prior to lunch and lost just one wicket, that of nightwatchman Jeetan Patel, who lasted four overs before he played inside the line of a delivery from Jarvis and was bowled for nine.
Williamson hit two boundaries in successive overs and Taylor lofted Ray Price for six to bring up the 50 partnership.
Williamson completed his half-century shortly after lunch by glancing Chris Mpofu for four and then hit Price for a six and a four in one over.
Taylor followed him to 50 with a single to deep cover and celebrated with a huge six over cow corner off Jarvis. The paceman responded well, though he was fortunate when a ball kept low and jagged in sharply to dismiss Williamson lbw for 68.
BJ Watling made three before popping Price to Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor at short-leg and Jarvis earned a much clearer leg before decision when Ross Taylor was caught on the walk having made 76.
He had to wait for his fifth wicket as Brendan Taylor dropped Daniel Vettori but it came when Brownlie, having hoisted Price for six, was bowled through the gate for nine.
Vettori, with 31, and Reece Young, who finished unbeaten on 35, helped the Kiwis add 40 in seven overs in the evening session before the declaration came.