Makhaya Ntini’s first Test as coach of Zimbabwe got off to a rocky start as his men were bowled out for 164 by New Zealand on day one in Bulawayo.
It took a superb knock by No 10 batsman Donald Tiripano to give the innings a vague air of respectability, but he was left stranded one short of what would have been a well-deserved 50.
He and Prince Masvaure, the No 7, put on 85 in 41 overs for the ninth wicket after Zimbabwe had been left reeling by the New Zealand attack at 72-8. Masvaure battled valiantly for 42, off 98 balls, while Tiripano was the epitome of patience, facing 162 balls, while striking six fours and a six.
Stumps were drawn with New Zealand at 32-0.
The destroyer-in-chief for New Zealand was someone Ntini knew well: Neil Wagner, the former Northerns bowler, who took 6-41 off 21 overs.
Wagner is an Affies old boy who made an impact in his first-class debut in 2005-06 for Northerns, taking two four-wicket hauls. He even fielded as 12th man for the Proteas in two Tests in Centurion alongside Ntini.
Despite finishing as the highest overall wicket-taker in the 2006-07 Provincial Challenge with 39 wickets, Wagner believed he had to look elsewhere for playing options. He has since played 19 Tests for New Zealand and also plies his trade with Alviro Petersen at Lancashire.
Ntini took over as coach of Zimbabwe in June, with Lance Klusener as his batting coach.