Not for me, mind, for Zimbabwe. My prediction of a heavy New Zealand victory looked good after the Kiwis took a big first innings lead. Vettori took five and Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 313. From a strong position, however, the Kiwis collapsed to 36-3 in their first innings and eventually declared on 252-8. I expect they will have wanted to lose fewer wickets, but it still set Zimbabwe a 366 to win, which looked like too much. New Zealand looked on top at stumps on day four, with Zimbabwe 61-2.
Zimbabwe played very well on the final day, however and needed just 101 more to win when the fourth wicket fell. That wicket was Taylor, however, who had scored 117 and put on over 100 with Taibu. Taibu, however, could not carry on to give his side a win. He got to 63, but with Vettori turning the ball out of the rough Taibu played a rash sweep and miscued it straight to midwicket. It was not the best of shots, and it put New Zealand on top. Zimbabwe fought and fought though. Ncube came in up the order (he batted at eleven in the first innings) and hit Vettori for a big six over midwicket. Zimbabwe just couldn’t quite do enough, however, and the superiority of the Kiwi bowlers finally started to tell and the rest of the tail collapsed. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 331 and lost by 34 runs.
Despite the loss, however, Zimbabwe should take heart from their performance. It’s never easy to get more than 300 in the fourth innings of a match, especially against a spinner of the quality of Vettori. New Zealand are certainly a better side on paper. They ought to have won, especially after taking a first innings lead of over 100 runs. The fact that Zimbabwe lost after being briefly 265-3 will be heartbreaking.
New Zealand, similarly, will have some worries after this match. They’re still a reasonably good ODI side, but the Test side have been slipping badly recently. They very seldom play Test matches anymore and they look a bit out of practise. They have two Test against Australia in December and they will definitely need to improve. They looked a bit flat on the last day when they were pushing for victory and I suspect part of that was due to not having played five days in quite some time. New Zealand is not a major cricketing nation, but they need to find a way to play decent Test cricket to maintain development for the future.