Daniel Vettori takes New Zealand to win against Zimbabwe
Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper and spinner Daniel Vettori starred with an allround performance, a match haul 8 wickets and 71 runs as New Zealand beat Zimbabwe by 34 runs in the one off Test at Bulawayo.
In his first Test since stepping down from the captaincy of the Black Caps, Vettori helped the side tide over a spirited Zimbabwean charge.
He came into the game on Day 2 of the test, walking in at the fall of BJ Watling’s wicket to join debutant Dean Brownlie. New Zealand were 320/5, losing quick wickets to squander away the good work laid by Martin Guptil’s ton earlier. The duo however put together 81 runs in just 18.4 overs, taking New Zealand’s score to 401 and imparting momentum with their speed of scoring. He was dismissed for 40, the seventh wicket to fall at 407 as the Kiwis folded for 426.
Vettori the bowler then came into action, removing Tino Mawoyo early in Zimbabwe’s innings. It was hard toil after that though as Zimbabwe’s top order sensibly. They were 193/3 when Vettori removed their two most dangerous batsmen, Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu. Zimbabwe were far from giving up though with their partnership for the sixth wicket nearly taking them to 300. Once he got an opening he mopped up the tail to end with 5/70 as NZ secured a 113 run first innings lead.
He came in much earlier in NZ’s second innings, the score at 167/5 and the lead just an inadequate 270 on the flat track. With the support at the other end flaky, Vettori accumulated runs to ease the pressure. He guided the tailenders, extracting precious batting from them but still scoring at a good rate to bring about the declaration. When he was dismissed for 31, the score was 236/8 and the lead looked more solid, more defendable at 339. NZ declared their innings soon after Tea on Day 4 at 252/8 setting Zimbabwe a target of 366 to chase.
Unfazed, Zimbabwe set about the task splendidly with Brendan Taylor taking the initiative, enjoying support first from Tino Mawoyo and then Tatenda Taibu. Taylor departed with the score at 265/4, a 101 runs still required from 29 overs, a feat absolutely possible for Tatenda Taibu provided he got support from the maverick allrounder Malcolm Waller and they decided to target Vettori. The RCB skipper had already been taken for 53 runs in 31 wicketless overs when the equation boiled down to 80 runs required off 20 overs. He removed Taibu, the score 287/5 to break a dangerous partnership and give his teammates an opening they gladly capitalized on. He returned to remove Waller and Zimbabwe’s hopes of winning the test when he had him leg before wicket, reducing Zimbabwe to 329/9. He finished things off by removing Chris Mpofu for a duck, ending Zimbabwe’s spirited chase at 331. His 3/70 displayed his class and calm which was unshakable even when he was under attack and the match haul of 8 wickets and 71 crucial runs meant there was little doubt over who would take the Man of the Match award.
In his first match as just a player since taking over the captaincy in 2007, Daniel Vettori was called upon to perform extraordinarily for NZ yet again and yet again, he delivered.