Rain halts NZ charge against Zimbabwe


Torrential rain dashed New Zealand’s hopes of building an imposing first-innings lead in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe on Friday, with an injury to captain Ross Taylor further frustrating the home side. The New Zealanders began the day at 331 for five and looked to be comfortably approaching Taylor’s stated target of 450-plus as they advanced to 392 without further loss. But a downpour ended play mid-way through the first session and officials abandoned play late in the afternoon when it became apparent the weather would not clear. In a further setback for the Black Caps, Taylor was forced to retire hurt early in the day after taking his overnight score of 111 to 122. He took off for a quick single but pulled up mid-wicket clutching his right calf and limped to the non-striker’s end, unable to continue despite on-field treatment from the team physio. Under rule changes introduced in October, Taylor was unable to call for a runner, bringing tail-ender Doug Bracewell to the crease. Bracewell should have been dismissed two overs later but was given a life when Forster Mutizwa grounded an easy catch at extra cover. BJ Watling, shouldering responsibility as the last established batsman, upped the tempo after previously contenting himself with a support role and brought up his half century just before the heavens opened. Watling ended the day on 52 not out, with Bracewell on 11. With fine weather forecast for Saturday, New Zealand will be looking to add runs early and hoping an attack that includes four seamers can find the penetration that has so far eluded Zimbabwe’s bowlers. There have only been two results in nine Tests at Napier and New Zealand have never won at the venue.