|Scorecard:||Mashonaland v Manicaland|
Just before tea Mashonaland completed their victory over Manicaland by an innings and 31 runs at Harare Sports Club. Manicaland had put up a good fight until lunch, but gave in quite feebly at the end, the tail collapsing in a hurry. The best individual performances were a fighting 72 by opener Darlington Matambanadzo and some impressive pace bowling by debutant all-rounder Cham Chibhabha.
Mashonaland soon struck in the morning, with Tatenda Taibu dismissing Norbert Manyande lbw for 10, reducing Manicaland to 26 for two. However, Matambanadzo stood firm and Gary Brent was promoted in the order to partner him. With sensible batting they added 56 together until Brent was superbly caught low down at slip by Grant Flower for 29, Taibu once again being the bowler. He had a lot of work to do with the ball in the continued absence of the injured Douglas Hondo; in fact, he bowled 19 overs in the 2¾-hour pre-lunch session and became less effective as time went on.
Prosper Utseya was rather inexplicably promoted to number five, and he proved a solid partner for the determined Matambanadzo, who reached the first Manicaland fifty of the match off 151 balls. Utseya scored 10 in almost an hour before he swung at a leg-side delivery from Flower and edged it to the keeper; 132 for four.
Matambanadzo after lunch looked to be battling for concentration for a while, but then he settled down and resisted the attempts of David Mutendera to bounce him out. Then, perhaps lulled into complacency when Chibhabha replaced Mutendera, he edged a catch to first slip, to depart for 72 scored in almost four hours. Manicaland were 156 for five, still 66 runs behind.
Blessing Mahwire began his innings with a couple of positive strokes, but then went into his shell, for no apparent reason since a draw now seemed inconceivable. He batted over an hour for 8 before falling to a slip catch off Flower. This opened the floodgates. Stanley Chioza (18) quickly followed, caught at the wicket off Chibhabha, and Innocent Chinyoka (1) edged Flower to slip; Andre Soma (0) unwisely padded up to Flower to be adjudged lbw first ball, and four wickets had fallen for one run.
The last pair had a brief flurry, but then Chibhabha knocked back Allan Mwayengas leg stump and the match was over, Manicaland having subsided very easily in the end. Mashonaland would take new heart from their innings victory, but it was gifted them by feeble opposition, just as they themselves had given their previous match away to Midlands. Flower bowled well to take four for 23, Taibu three for 44, but most impressive was Chibhabha with three for 45, showing the ability to move the ball either way both in the air and off the pitch.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)