Mountaineers, on the other hand, when given a lemon made lemonade, as they turned in a good disciplined bowling performance, and if they bat in similar fashion, they should gain the advantage in this match.
Mid-West Rhinos won the toss and decided to bat on a day that was dry and partly sunny. They quickly lost Vusi Sibanda (4), once again betrayed by his pads: a thick inside edge rebounded off his pads to be caught in the gully in the second over, bowled by Donald Tiripano. There followed the main partnership of the day, as Gary Ballance joined Steve Marillier and the pair added 70 runs for the second wicket. Ballance was never at his fluent best, making 30 before he finally sliced a low catch to backward point off Tendai Chatara.
Marillier has not been in good form this season, but at last he looked more confident, standing tall and playing some good stokes, even if he was slow and enjoyed some good fortune at times. 44 at lunch, he reached his fifty soon afterwards, but then gave his wicket away, guiding the ball to second slip off Tiripano for 53. The score was now 108 for three.
Bothwell Chapungu, who also had a few escapes, made 16, while the new wicketkeeper Nyasha Muyavo scored 5. Then came a more substantial partnership between Roly Benade and Graeme Cremer, who took the score to 149 for five at tea. The team evidently decided on a change of policy in the final session, as the batsmen came out attacking. Both quickly hit a six and rattled up another 32 runs in quick time before Cremer was caught at slip for 25 off Natsai Mushangwe.
Benade continued until he had made 47, at which point Timycen Maruma, who has done little bowling under his own captaincy this season, deceived him and had him caught close in on the leg side. Simon Mugava made 26 and was the last batsman out on the day, leaving Neville Madziva (16) and Richie Muzhange (6) as the overnight batsmen.
The Mountaineers bowlers did a good job on a pitch that gave them a little movement early on, some good bounce at times, but nothing more. They kept a good line and length, with Chatara and Tiripano both taking three wickets during the day. The supporting seamer, Silent Mujaji, who does not generally play when the full team is available, did a fine job with no luck, bowling with great accuracy to concede only 33 runs in 19 overs, while Mushangwe was also very economical. The home team were the more impressive side on the first day and Mid-West Rhinos did not make the best use of winning the toss.