Bulawayo - New Zealand maintained the upper hand in their one-off Test against Zimbabwe on Wednesday, despite the hosts fighting back strongly throughout the second day at Queens Sports Club.
Zimbabwe went to stumps on 82 for one, with opener Vusi Sibanda unbeaten on 53, as they responded to New Zealand's first innings total of 426 all out.
While the Black Caps will be happy to have the runs on the board on a pitch which is beginning to take turn, Zimbabwe could reflect on a good day's work with both bat and ball that coach Alan Butcher labelled their best since returning to Test cricket in August.
Fast bowler Chris Mpofu claimed career-best figures of four for 92 as New Zealand lost their last five wickets for just 25 runs, leaving them short of the hefty total they looked destined for when they resumed on 275 for three on the second morning.
Although Zimbabwe opener Tino Mawoyo was trapped lbw by Daniel Vettori in the left-arm spinner's second over, Sibanda put on an unbroken stand of 58 with Hamilton Masakadza to leave Zimbabwe 344 runs adrift at the close of play with nine wickets in hand.
Morning rain meant that play was delayed by 45 minutes at the start of the day by a wet outfield, but Njabulo Ncube made the most of the moist conditions early on when he claimed his first wicket in Test cricket.
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor had failed to add to his overnight score of 76 when he chased a wide delivery in Ncube's first over and was caught behind.
Mpofu picked up the other wicket of the morning session, surprising BJ Watling with a lifting delivery that caught the edge on its way to wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva, who took a good one-handed catch low to his right.
Dean Brownlie and Vettori took the fight to the Zimbabwe bowlers after lunch in a quest for quick runs, and added 74 in just 14 overs as Brownlie recorded a half-century in his first Test innings.
However, Zimbabwe responded to the onslaught well, tightening up their lines and dismissing both Brownlie and Vettori as the batsmen attempted big shots.
Ray Price had Brownlie caught at slip for 63, while Mpofu accounted for Vettori on 40 before claiming two more wickets as the tail was wrapped up swiftly.
Sibanda led the Zimbabwe response with aplomb, and when the umpires finally pulled stumps the hosts were able to claim bragging rights for the day.
"I think we did more than just shade it to be honest. To get seven wickets for 150 on that wicket and to then finish 82 for one, I think we won the day," said Butcher.
"There are still three days left and winning one day isn't enough, so we've still got a lot of work to do, but I feel it was an outstanding performance in the field led by Chris Mpofu, who was terrific throughout his spells.
"I feel that we've probably had our best day of Test cricket today, notwithstanding the win against Bangladesh."