LOGAN CUP MATCH: SOUTHERN ROCKS v MID-WEST RHINOS
Day 1 (Tuesday 6 November), at Masvingo Sports Club
Close of play: Southern Rocks (149) v Mid-West Rhinos (98/1).
After their heroics in Harare last week, when they won their first-ever Logan Cup match, it seemed almost back to square one for Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club today.
They showed little spirit when they batted, being rolled over for 149, and then, although bowling quite well, were unable to stop Mid-West Rhinos from taking the initiative with a score of 98 for one wicket at stumps.
Both teams reported everybody fit, although Brian Vitori was rested from the Southern Rocks team, after some disappointing bowling in Harare, and Mid-West Rhinos surprisingly omitted Simon Mugava, their leading spin bowler and useful batsman.
Mid-West Rhinos decided to field on winning the toss, an unusual occurrence in Masvingo, but there was some extra grass on the pitch and the day’s play proved this was a wise decision. Before lunch, the ball did indeed move considerably off the seam, with Mike Chinouya in particular cutting the ball in sharply from the off. Before lunch it had flattened out a lot, though, but by then Southern Rocks had lost their top three batsmen for 45.
Richmond Mutumbami was the first batsman to look confident, and within minutes of his arrival at number five he had played three handsome drives to the boundary. Kudzai Maunze, his partner, grew in confidence and the pair put on a useful 60 together before Maunze fatally shouldered arms to a ball from Chinouya that moved in more than he expected and hit his stumps. The same bowler struck again in his next over, bowling Peter Burgoyne with a superb yorker third ball, and then Tendai Chisoro quickly followed. The score was now 120 for six.
Most of the Southern Rocks’ hopes now rested with Mutumbami, but he joined the collapse by flashing at a ball from Madziva outside the off stump and edging to the keeper, having had an otherwise admirable 45. The innings then subsided slowly and with barely a whimper for a disappointing 149 at tea. Chinouya finished with five wickets for 30, good but flattering figures for fine bowling, and this was the outstanding individual performance of the day.
The final session saw Mid-West Rhinos entrench themselves at the crease as if they were facing 500, but the Southern Rocks bowling was far better than their batting. Vusimuzi Sibanda and the Essex professional Jaik Mickleburgh made a sound but very solid start, scoring at barely two runs an over as their opening partnership realized 66 runs in just under 30 overs. There were only four boundaries between them as the batsmen concentrated on pushing for ones and twos. Sibanda scored 28 in just over two hours before edging a catch to give the debutant seam bowler Cuthbert Musoko his first wicket in first-class cricket.
After this, though, Mickleburgh speeded up and the new batsman Mark Vermeulen soon got settled in with his trademark powerful drives. The bowling was tight and disciplined, with the captain Tinashe Panyangara again leading from the front, but they had no help from the pitch now. At the close, Mickleburgh had 44 and Vermeulen 18.
Mid-West Rhinos are well poised to take a big lead on the second day, and if the Southern Rocks batsmen do not pull up their socks they are in danger of falling back to earth with a three-day defeat.