Both teams are seriously depleted with their national players in New Zealand, but Mountaineers have two quality overseas players to bolster their team, while Mid-West Rhinos have none.
Mid-West Rhinos began the day on 247 for eight, but were quickly dismissed for 253, both wickets falling to Tendai Chatara, who finished with five wickets for 63. The visitors had wasted their opportunities on a sound batting pitch, and they were to regret their inadequacies with the bat even more before the day was over.
Mitchell, who is the Worcestershire captain, was in good form right from the start of the Mountaineers’ innings, moving the score along briskly with confident strokeplay. He lost his first two partners by the time the score was 60, but the other overseas player, Mark Pettini of Essex, settled in with him in the partnership which has probably determined this match.
The pitch was taking some spin, so the two of them decided to dominate the spinners, which they did effectively. To make matters worse for Mid-West Rhinos, their best pace bowler Mike Chinouya went off with a leg injury after bowling eight overs. The bowlers on the whole tended to bowl too straight, as both batsmen are very strong on the leg side and adept at working the ball off the stumps in that direction, whereas a line outside the off stump would have been more effective.
The pair added 183 for the third wicket before Vusi Sibanda at slip picked up a brilliant catch as Pettini (68) sliced a ferocious slash at a ball from Neville Madziva. By now Mitchell, perhaps affected by the unaccustomed altitude, was playing to survive the day and Mid-West Rhinos had lost their spark and optimism in the field. They did manage to dismiss Timycen Maruma for 5 just before the close, but they will still start the third day at a serious disadvantage.
Mitchell, whose highest first-class score is 298, probably has an eye on a triple century and will not give his wicket away easily, but the home team does not have much batting to come. If Chinouya is fit again to bowl, Mid-West Rhinos could fight back effectively, but they have a lot of ground to make up.