|Scorecard:||Mashonaland v Manicaland|
Mashonaland tightened their grip on the match against Manicaland on the second day at Harare Sports Club, finishing 213 runs ahead and already having taken one second-innings wicket. It was another slow days play on the whole, with the most entertaining feature being a bright innings of 72 from Tatenda Taibu.
Dion Ebrahim and Grant Flower carried on from where they left off overnight, at 131 for one, with Ebrahim making most of the running. Flower was never fluent, defending grimly in an effort to regain his form, but eventually he was trapped lbw byt Brent for 33 off 119 balls. The total was 157 for two, and this pair had added 105 together. The wicket made Brent the first bowler to take 100 wickets in the Logan Cup since it became a first-class competition in 1993/94. Coincidentally, his victim was the Logan Cups highest first-class run scorer.
Tatenda Taibu started speeding up the scoring rate, hooking Norbert Manyande for six. He was especially strong with the hook and pull, and enjoyed a life when midwicket was unable to hold a fierce pull at shin-height. On the whole, though, the morning session was one of steady and accelerating accumulation, with Taibu reaching his fifty off 74 balls soon after lunch. Ebrahim missed the century he worked so hard for, though; Brent came on at the clubhouse end for the first time and he unwisely shouldered arms to be given out lbw for 94; 241 for three.
Tafadzwa Mufambisi looked solid from the start of his innings, but Taibu was also to miss his century. He pulled Brent straight to deep midwicket on 72, and Mashonaland were 276 for four. At this stage Mufambisi, unused to the longer game, seemed to lose concentration and played a few airy shots before he was comprehensively yorked, off stump out of the ground, by Blessing Mahwire for 22.
Manicaland fought back now, and new batsmen Tom Benade and Cham Chibhabha had a torrid time against the second new ball. Benade scraped his way to 3 off 36 balls before edging Mahwire to the keeper, and Hondo (1) followed after tea, also caught by the keeper off Leon Soma, prodding outside the off stump.
David Mutendera lasted 17 balls without scoring before being trapped lbw b Soma, but then runs finally began to flow again as Tinashe Ruswa joined debutant Chibhabha, who blossomed after a slow start. They put on 54 together in 45 minutes before Chibhabha was caught in the slips off Brent for 36, and in the next over Prosper Utseya wrapped up the innings when Ruswa (27) skyed a catch to short fine leg. The total was 359. The wholehearted Brent, with four for 66 off 34 overs, was the outstanding bowler, while Mahwire (two for 88) and Leon Soma (two for 43) bowled some good spells.
Manicaland went in again 222 runs behind. Hondo soon had another of his renowned injuries, slipping while bowling the first ball of his second over and limping from the field. His over was completed by Taibu, who seized the wicket of Neil Ferreira (0), whose dismal run of form continued as he edged a low catch to the keeper; 6 for one. With Ruswa off the field with knee trouble, Mashonaland coach Shane Cloete had to borrow some flannels hurriedly and take the field.
Shortly afterwards, at the normal finishing time but with 14 overs left unbowled thanks to an abysmal Manicaland over rate, the batsmen accepted the offer of bad light and walked off with Manicaland at 9 for one wicket. Unless they show much more fight than they did in the first innings or unless the weather intervenes they face a three-day defeat.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)