Bond inspires crushing victory

In the eyes of many New Zealand fans, this two match test series against Zimbabwe was simply about watching the performance of returning fast bowler Shane Bond.

If that’s all you were looking for, he certainly didn’t disappoint.

New Zealand was bowled out rather quickly for 484 earlier in the day, with Nathan Astle reaching a fine 128. Heath Streak showed his class finished with 4 for 73. Zimbabwe looked to at least make New Zealand bat again, 253 runs in arrears.

The home side never looked like reaching that landmark.

Zimbabwe’s innings was characterised by a mixture of stout defence, erratic shot selection and farcical running between the wickets.

In Zimbabwe’s brief stay at the crease before lunch, Bond didn’t take long to get into his stride. A sharp, rising delivery caught Dion Ebrahim off balance; Scott Styris took the chance at slip while back-pedalling. A direct-hit from James Marshall accounted for Stuart Carlisle after he attempted a quick single, only to be sent back.

At this point, opener Brendon Taylor joined Hamilton Masakadza in forging a mini-recovery. Taylor was particularly assured, building on his good work in the first innings.

The pair put on exactly 50 runs, coming off 94 balls, before Vettori’s arm ball trapped the plucky Masakadza right in front after a courageous innings of 28. He had earlier hit two sixes off the spinner.

Craig Wishart was run-out in dire circumstances immediately afterwards. Wishart called for a risky single to Bond at mid-off, but a late response by Taylor left him stranded without facing a ball. Zimbabwe was 69 for 4 at lunch and looking at a heavy defeat.

A solid partnership followed in the post-lunch session, with Taylor and captain Tatenda Taibu taking the score to 134 for 4 at tea. Taylor reached a well deserved half-century, coming off 99 balls, including some fine boundaries. Taibu again demonstrated how vital he is to his side’s cause, playing another stout innings.

The tea interval spelled doom for the home side. Taylor, looking increasingly confident against all the bowlers, was first to go after the resumption. In a decisive move by captain Stephen Fleming, Bond was brought back with the old ball. After reaching 77, the young opening batsman was deceived by Bond’s slower delivery, which he chipped to Vettori at mid-on. If there was any positive for the home side in this series, it was the promise shown by Taylor. He had faced 129 balls and struck 14 boundaries, along with one maximum.

Taylor’s exit seemed to spark the end for the hosts. Taibu played around a straight one from Vettori when on 25, and Bond had Heath Streak and debutant Keith Dabengwa caught behind in quick succession. His 4 for 48 meant that Bond achieved career best match figures of 10 for 99.

Vettori took his third leg-before scalp as Graeme Cremer played across the line. At 175 for 9, the inevitable beckoned. Blessing Mahwire, who has been the pick of the bowlers along with Streak, took the attack up to the tourists with 50 off 34 balls.

The next event surely summed up Zimbabwe’s entire series. After Mahwire reached his half-century, Chris Mpofu left his crease to congratulate his batting partner. Unbeknown to him, the ball had not been considered dead and was run out.

207 all out, neither adequate nor competitive. Fitting words to describe Zimbabwe’s overall performance in this test series.

Match Summary

Zimbabwe 231
Taibu 76, Mahwire 42
Bond 6-51, Vettori 2-56

New Zealand 483
Astle 128, Vincent 92, Fleming 65
Streak 4-73, Dabengwa 2-87

Zimbabwe 207
Taylor 77, Mahwire 50*
Bond 4-48, Vettori 3-66

Result: New Zealand won by an innings and 46 runs, win series 2-0.

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Shane Bond – Match figures of 10-99 (6-51, 4-48).

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