Solid start for Black Caps
Bulawayo - New Zealand made a confident start to their one-off Test against Zimbabwe as they reached 98 for one at lunch on the opening day.
Although they lost the aggressive Brendon McCullum for just 14, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson put on an unbroken stand of 58 to see the Black caps establish their dominance after captain Ross Taylor had won the toss and opted to bat first.
Zimbabwe's fast bowlers Kyle Jarvis and Njabulo Ncube managed to swing the ball in the opening few overs, but on a hot, dry morning it wasn't long before the batsmen were able to assert themselves on a placid batting pitch.
The only trouble New Zealand had in the opening hour was when McCullum tried to hook a lifting delivery from Jarvis and played onto his stumps.
Zimbabwe looked to stem the flow of runs in the second hour by bringing on their sturdy left-arm spinner Ray Price, but Williamson and Guptill grew in confidence and began to drive Price back over his head for regular boundaries.
Price spurned a tough chance in his final over before lunch, when Guptill's strong drive went straight through the bowler's hands on its way to the boundary.
Zimbabwe handed out three new caps prior to play as Ncube, Malcolm Waller and Regis Chakabva made their Test debuts.
Tatenda Taibu was included in the side as a specialist batsman despite not being named in the official 15-man squad on Monday, but all-rounder Elton Chigumbura was left out as his troublesome knee meant he would be unable to bowl.
Middle-order batsman Dean Brownlie and fast bowler Doug Bracewell made their debuts for New Zealand, while former captain Daniel Vettori played his first international match since the World Cup in March.
Left-arm fast bowler Andy McKay was the surprise omission for New Zealand, having been the leading wicket-taker in the three-match one-day series with seven scalps.
Although McKay was reported to be suffering from a stomach bug, he took full part in a nets session on Monday and appeared to have recovered.