* Latham two runs away from century
* Kiwis 50 runs ahead with nine wickets in hand
BULAWAYO, July 29 (Reuters) - Tom Latham was two runs shy of a century and captain Kane Williamson contributed a quickfire 61 as New Zealand advanced to 214 for one and a 50-run lead over Zimbabwe at tea on the second day of the first test on Friday.
Latham, 16 not out overnight, played a chanceless knock as New Zealand sought to build up a formidable first-innings lead ahead of series in South Africa and India in the coming months.
He and Williamson shared an unbeaten partnership of 135 runs as the visitors eased past Zimbabwe’s total of 164 on a flat pitch.
The 24-year-old Latham will be looking for his fourth test century and a chance to emulate the achievement of his father Rod, whose only test century came against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 1992.
Williamson scored his 20th test 50 as he picked up the scoring rate after lunch. He reached his half century in 95 balls before the spin bowling of Graeme Creamer and the part- time medium pace of Hamilton Masakadza put the brakes on.
Zimbabwe’s only wicket was opener Martin Guptill who was out for 40 before lunch, driving away from his body to offer a catch in the gully to Craig Irvine and hand debutant Chamu Chibhabha a first test wicket.
New Zealand began the second day on 32 without loss, 132 runs behind after bowling out the hosts, playing their first test for nearly two years, for 164.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond