Matabeleland Tuskers resumed in the morning on 84 for seven in their first innings, needing 33 more runs for the lead and one point with three wickets left. They found the pitch easier than on the first day, but bowlers were still able to get some help from it. Brad Staddon was joined by the debutant wicketkeeper Tonny Mupariwa, and made all the early running, until he gave Richard Muzhange his fifth wicket of the innings, driving outside the off stump without getting across to the ball and edging a catch to the keeper.
Njabulo Ncube came in and hit Edward Rainsford for an accidental four and a deliberate six off successive balls, only to be trapped lbw by the same bowler for 10. This left the last pair needing to make six to take the lead. Glen Querl made four of them, but then Mupariwa, who had defended grimly for 54 minutes for a single (32 balls), was suddenly tempted to go for glory by driving a ball from Graeme Cremer, only to edge a catch to slip. So Mid-West Rhinos took the point by just one run, Muzhange finishing with five for 30.
The Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers came out fighting when Mid-West Rhinos went in a second time, but Vusi Sibanda and Steve Marillier handled them capably and took the score to 36 without loss at lunch. Immediately afterwards Marillier on 18 was dropped off a hard chance to short extra cover. The opening pair put on 57 in 25 overs until Staddon, whose grunts suggest either a top woman tennis player or a fast bowler of over 150 kilometres an hour, managed to hold on to a sharp return catch from Sibanda a split second after another major grunt. The opener had made 34.
Marillier was to make 36, having played well until he made a half-hearted drive and skied at catch to mid-on off Dabengwa. The score was now 91 for two, but as long as Gary Ballance is there and has enough company at the other end, Mid-West Rhinos do not need to worry too much. At tea the score was 119 with Ballance still there, along with an unusually aggressive Bothwell Chapungu.
Chapungu ran to 29 off 33 balls before he gave a sharp catch to short leg off Dabengwa, and then Roly Benade made 9 before Ncube removed his middle stump. Once again Ballance was proving the backbone of the innings, with 39 to his credit now; the total was 149 for four. He reached his fifty with a scoop over the wicketkeeper’s head from a short ball, but was out most unfortunately. He slipped in playing forward to a ball from Staddon and his back foot just dislodged the leg bail, so he was out hit wicket for 56. Having made ‘only’ 95 runs in the match for twice out, he lost his place at the top of the national averages for the season to his teammate Riki Wessels, who left the country before the last two matches. His batting is a fine example to every young cricketer, as he plays to his strengths, knows his limitations and has the patience and will to bat for hours.
Mid-West Rhinos’ position immediately looked much more precarious, at 169 for five and the batting to come not reliable this season. However, with a storm threatening but not yet arriving, Nyasha Mayavo and Cremer dug in and batted sensibly and patiently, taking the total past 200 and surviving the day – just. There was a ridiculous incident in the final over of the day, bowled by Dabengwa: Mayavo foolishly went for a big hit across the line and skied the easiest of catches straight to mid-on – who dropped it! This allowed the Mid-West Rhinos wicketkeeper to survive undeservedly on 15, while Cremer had 31. With overnight rain very possible, Mid-West Rhinos have secured for themselves a very handy position.