Bulawayo: Martin Guptill hit his second Test century to put New Zealand in firm control of their one-off Test against Zimbabwe at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday.
Guptill made the most of a flat pitch to hit 109, while captain Ross Taylor made an unbeaten half-century as the Black Caps closed day one on 275 for three.
Zimbabwe's bowlers found the going tough on a wicket which offered little assistance, but could have dismissed both Taylor and BJ Watling in the final half hour of the day were it not for a couple of dropped catches.
Brendon McCullum opened the batting after New Zealand won the toss (AFP)
Taylor, who finished the day unbeaten on 76, was fortunate to see his thin edge down the leg side off Chris Mpofu's bowling dropped by the wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva, while Watling edged a delivery from Kyle Jarvis past first slip just a few overs later.
The rest of the day was often short on entertainment as New Zealand marched methodically towards a big total and Zimbabwe did their best to contain them.
However Guptill mixed patience and aggression to good effect, allowing himself quiet spells in the face of tight bowling but also launching the ball back over Ray Price's head whenever the left-arm spinner offered the opportunity.
The 25-year-old had two close calls during his innings, with a strong drive going straight through Price's hands shortly before lunch, while umpire Bruce Oxenford turned down a decent shout for lbw by Jarvis when Guptill was on 77.
Guptill went to 99 with a monstrous six over long-off from the bowling of Price, and then went to three figures two balls later when he put away a long hop through midwicket.
"Any time you score a hundred is a good time, but it was quite difficult out there today so I was very pleased to come away with one," Guptill said afterwards.
"There was a little bit of swing in the first few overs and then it went away and it was pretty straight up and down, but they bowled well and set straight fields which made it difficult to score runs.
"They were very discplined so the way that Ross Taylor and I batted, I think we did quite well."
Guptill put on 132 for the third wicket with Taylor, before pulling a short ball from part-time seamer Hamilton masakadza straight to Tatenda Taibu at midwicket.
That kept alive Zimbabwe's tally of one wicket per session, with Jarvis having accounted for Brendon McCullum prior to lunch and Price effecting the run-out of Kane Williamson between lunch and tea.
McCullum attempted to pull a bouncer from Jarvis but played onto his stumps, while Williamson departed for 49 having failed to return to his crease in time after coming down the pitch and nudging a delivery back to the bowler.
A total of five new caps were handed out at the start of the day, as Njabulo Ncube, Malcolm Waller and Regis Chakabva made their debuts for Zimbabwe and Dean Brownlie and Doug Bracewell were included in New Zealand's Test side for the first time.