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Umpiring howlers hand New Zealand 254-run win

by   •  Last updated on 2020-04-20 04:31:42

Thirty-five minutes into the second session - that's all it took for New Zealand to wipe off the last five Zimbabwean wickets on the final day of the second Test match and register a massive 254-run win at the Queen's Sports Club in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe's second innings ended on 132 as New Zealand swept the series 2-0 on Wednesday (August 10).

It was worth deliberating whether it was poor umpiring that robbed Zimbabwe off a draw that the hosts had been working extremely hard towards. Having lost three wickets in quick succession in the dying minutes of Day 4, Craig Ervine, centurion from the first innings, and nightwatchman Donald Tiripano showed resolute defence to keep the New Zealand bowlers at bay in the first one and a half hours.

With the pitch not offering any pace or bounce, the conditions weren't favourable for the bowlers. However, the pace trio of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee kept running in hard and doing it's bit to cause some trouble for the batsmen.

Tiripano, especially, dealt with the challenge with great application as he left the ball outside off, swayed away from bouncers and played with a straight bat anytime the ball was in line of the stumps. Along with Ervine, he successfully saw through the first hour of play without any trouble.

During the course of their stand, which lasted 22.2 overs, the odd boundary also kept coming as the scoreboard moved from the overnight score of 58 for 3 to 97. It had soon become obvious, much like their approach in the first innings, Zimbabwe were not in pursuit of the total. Their target, instead, was to see through the overs and register a moral victory with a draw.

The fourth-wicket stand came to an end when Mitchell Santner hit Tiripano on the pads, and the umpire declared the batsman out. Just like first innings, replays suggested that Tiripano should have continued instead, as the ball was hitting him outside leg and going on to miss. If one poor decision wasn't enough to derail Zimbabwe's charge for a draw, even Ervine was given marching orders, at the stroke of Lunch, for a caught behind appeal. As Heath Streak described it, there was 'daylight' between the bat and the ball.

The dismissals not only reduced the home team to 112 for 5 at Lunch but also punched their morale. A session where Zimbabwe had managed to keep New Zealand at bay, ended with the balance tilting in the favour of the visitors.

Prince Masvaure's stay at the crease was a struggle. He was dropped, trapped in front and saw an edge fall agonizingly short of a slip fielder. Despite all his struggles, he managed to stall New Zealand for 106 deliveries. With Masvaure and Sean Williams in the middle, it seemed like Zimbabwe had found the momentum they needed to pull off a draw. But, as it turned out, Martin Guptill got the breakthrough that triggered a collapse. Williams failed to check his drive off a flighted delivery outside off and gave Kane Williamson an easy catch at short cover.

Peter Moor and Graeme Cremer scored one run each before making their way back to the pavilion. Masvaure, who was fortunate to survive for as long as he did, eventually became victim of the third incorrect decision of the day by the on-field umpires. Despite the fact that the ball lobbed up off his pads, the batsman was declared caught by Ross Taylor at second slip.

The innings eventually ended when Michael Chinouya uppishly drove Ish Sodhi's leg break delivery to Williamson at short cover. Sodhi finished with match figures of 7-79, second-best for a New Zealand spinner. Guptill, on the other hand, returned figures of 3-11, his best in international cricket.

Williamson, who was awarded the Man of the Match for scoring a record ton and an unbeaten half-century, also registered a whitewash in his first assignment as Test captain. Neil Wagner was named Man of the Series.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 582/4 (dec) (Tom Latham 136, Ross Taylor 124*, Kane Williamson 113) & 166/2 (dec) (Kane Williamson 68*, Ross Taylor 67*) beat Zimbabwe 362 (Craig Ervine 146, Peter Moor 71; Ish Sodhi 4-60) & 132 (Tino Mawoyo 35; Martin Guptill 3-11, Ish Sodhi 3-19) by 254 runs.