Bulawayo: New Zealand led by 141 runs despite slumping to 28-2 at stumps after bowling out Zimbabwe for 313 on the third day Thursday of the one-off Test at Queens Sports Club.
Vusi Sibanda scored 93, just short of his maiden Test century. The opener played fluently for his 11 fours and a six until he mis-hit a short and wide Dean Brownlie delivery to Ross Taylor at gully before lunch.
After lunch, Malcolm Waller hit an undefeated half-century on debut to revive Zimbabwe from 193-4 in response to New Zealand's first-innings total of 426.
Waller, whose father Andy played two Tests for Zimbabwe against England in 1996, faced 133 balls and smashed nine fours and a six in an innings in which he punished anything short or wayward.
Waller and fellow debutant Regis Chakabva repaired the innings with a mature partnership of 86 runs for the sixth wicket before Chakabva was run out on 37 by a combination of Doug Bracewell and Reece Young.
"It was a good, I think we batted well as a team and it was a pity that I ran out of partners," Waller said.
"Reggie's run out was the turning point because we were going on nicely. When we came in, we were both under pressure as we had lost two big wickets and the score was not looking good, so we just talked to each other and tried to stay positive.
"It's still a good wicket to bat on; it's just starting to turn and Vettori is starting to give us problems."
Zimbabwe slipped to 193-4 after losing captain Brendan Taylor on 50 and former skipper Tatenda Taibu for 20 soon after the lunch break.
Experienced New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori ended with figures of 5-70 at the expense of the Zimbabwe tail after tea, and seamer Chris Martin grabbed two wickets to clean up and reach the 200-wicket mark in Tests.
"I have waited for this milestone for 10 months and it was a long day of work for me but it was nice," Martin said. "Also, watching Danny getting to 350 wickets was also great.
"A lead was very important. We wanted to bowl them out for less than 300 but still it was close enough. A few Zim guys got in but didn't quite take the opportunity. I think a lot depends on the first session tomorrow because with wickets in hand we can accelerate our run rate."
In New Zealand's second innings, Zimbabwe pace bowler Kyle Jarvis produced a brilliant full delivery to clean-bowl first-innings centurion Martin Guptill for a duck before spinner Ray Price trapped Brendon McCullum lbw plumb in front for 11.