New Zealand v Zimbabwe preview

It’s another one-off Test between these two, following the one in Zimbabwe a few months ago. The Kiwis wont that one, and on form they should certainly do the double next week. There are still a lot holes in their side though, and the historic victory over a weak Australia should not disguise that.

The Kiwis well make at least two, probably three, changes to the side that won at Hobart. Jesse Ryder and Reece Young have been left out of the squad, the former due to the calf injury that he sustained in Zimbabwe. Young might feel a bit hard done by; he has been dropped for his batting after some very solid glovework. I think the selectors can justify the decision though, their top order never really fired in Australia and some insurance down the order (in addition to Vettori). BJ Watling and Kruger van Wyk are the two possible replacements and are both playing in the current warmup match. Watling looks like the front runner at the moment, being run out for 84 as opposed to van Wyk’s nick behind for five. The other likely change for the Kiwis is Vettori’s presumed return after being injured for the Hobart Test. As well as New Zealand bowled there I cannot see them not bringing Vettori back in place of one of the seamers. Trent Boult originally came into the side in place of Vettori, so he is most likely to miss out. That said, he arguably out-bowled Southee at Hobart and this pitch is likely to be similar. It will be interesting to see what the selectors do before the Test.

Zimbabwe very nearly beat New Zealand last time these two sides met, but I think they’ll have a lot more trouble in the less batting friendly conditions. They have not played in properly foreign conditions in several years now and I don’t think one warmup match will be enough for them. They might be able to knock the Kiwis over cheaply in one of the innings, but I don’t think their batsmen will adjust quickly enough. They also have the disadvantage of not having played since that match against New Zealand at the beginning of November.

I think the match will be a low scoring affair, but a good innings by the Kiwis (probably anchored by a Vettori ton) will be enough to give them a relatively comfortable win. I think the margin of victory will be about 150 runs.

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