Black Caps expecting improved Zim in 2nd Test

2016-08-05 18:01
BJ Watling (Getty)

Bulawayo - New Zealand expect to come up against greater resistance from both their opponents and the conditions when they take on Zimbabwe in the second and final Test at Queens Sports Club on Saturday.

The Black Caps handed Zimbabwe a sound thrashing in the first Test, beating them by an innings and 117 runs inside four days on a placid surface that offered little to the bowlers.

However, the tourists expect Zimbabwe to be an improved side from the one that was playing their first Test in almost two years, and are also anticipating a pitch with even less life in it.

"We know this game will be tougher," wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling, who scored a century in the first Test, said on Friday. "The surface looks slower and drier.

"We've got to improve in little areas, because Zimbabwe will be a tougher task."

While New Zealand's seamers did the job in the first game, taking 16 of the 20 wickets, that could change as the venue hosts its second straight Test match in as many weeks.

"The spinners will come into it more," predicted Watling.

"I thought they bowled reasonably well with little reward (in the first Test)."

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi were both picked for the first Test, and Watling confirmed that New Zealand would field an unchanged XI on Saturday.

Captain Kane Williamson and fast bowler Tim Southee will both play their 50th Test matches.

Zimbabwe are expected to try and replicate their opponent's team balance, having called off-spinner John Nyumbu into their squad.

Nyumbu will provide some much-needed support to leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, who toiled through 53 overs in New Zealand's innings in the opening match.

Further changes are expected, with Tino Mawoyo set to replace Hamilton Masakadza in the top order after the veteran picked up a back injury, and wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Moor likely to debut as Regis Chakabva continues to battle tonsillitis.

The hosts will seek greater stability in their top order after collapsing to 36 for four and 17 for four in the first Test, but Mawoyo expects them to be much improved now that the batsmen have a game under their belts.

"The good thing is that we have had one game already," he said.

"The guys have had a good look at how they got out and have done some work.

"Realistically, to come out and say we're going to win the next Test would not be honest. If we can go out there and improve on the things we have spoken about, we are going forward."

The first day's play could see a peaceful demonstration against President Robert Mugabe's government by Zimbabwean citizens, after a protest movement known as #This Flag urged supporters to rise to their feet in the 36th over and sing the national anthem.

The number signifies the 36 years that Mugabe has been in power in Zimbabwe, and also "the number of years we have been silent", according to #This Flag leader Pastor Evan Mawarire.

Read more on:    cricket


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