While victory may be a distant dream, Zimbabwe could be eyeing a moral victory when they closed day three at 305-6 against New Zealand.
They are still 277 runs behind after New Zealand ran up 582-4 declared in their first offering, but it is not beyond Zimbabwe avoiding the follow-on, a target just 78 runs away. New Zealand need to take another 14 wickets on a slow wicket and if Zimbabwe do force the Kiwis to bat again, they may entertain hopes of a draw.
They owe their resolute fightback to a maiden century by Craig Ervine, brother of former captain Sean, and determined innings of 71 from debutant No 7 batsman Peter Moor.
Zimbabwe’ s opening stand, which at the end of play on Monday stood at 55-0, did not last much longer, with Tino Mawoyo being bowled by Tim Southee for 26 in the sixth over of the day. But the 65 they put on was the best opening stand in 13 Tests, going back five years. His partner Chamu Chibhabha went on to run up an excellent 60 off 170 balls, but on his dismissal, Zimbabwe wobbled a bit. They went from 107-2 to 147-5 until Ervine settled in with Moor.
They put on 148 for the sixth wicket, until Moor fell five overs before the close, having added 11 fours among the 125 balls he faced.
Ervine completed his hundred off 178 balls with 14 fours and was unbeaten at 115 at the close.