Day 1: 27 November 2012, at Kwekwe Sports Club
Close of play: Mid-West Rhinos (65) v Matabeleland Tuskers (178/8)
It was a day of wickets, 18 of them, at Kwekwe Sports Club, where many fell to good bowling but perhaps more to simple bad batting by both teams, as the pitch was not greatly helpful to the bowlers.
The highlight of the day was the cheap five-wicket haul of Glenn Querl, who shattered the Mid-West Rhinos’ batting and must surely now be in the national selectors’ book.
Matabeleland Tuskers finished the day well on top, leading by over 100 on the first innings, but their batsmen missed the chance of building an impregnable lead.
For the second match in succession, Brendan Taylor won the toss for Mid-West Rhinos, decided to bat and saw it all go wrong. While Matabeleland Tuskers were at full strength, Mid-West Rhinos were under a severe handicap – particularly when playing such strong opponents – of losing two of their top bowlers. Mike Chinouya and Neville Madziva were out due to injury. At times during the morning, it seemed as if some of the Mid-West Rhinos batsmen had rather a defeatist attitude in these circumstances.
The weather was quite cold and overcast, and the pitch gave little help to the seamers, apart from Querl, although Keegan Meth did get some movement at times, as when he moved the ball in to Vusimuzi Sibanda and trapped him leg-before-wicket for two. The batsmen had made a slow start and it did not get better. Mark Vermeulen ran himself out for four, and then Querl took five in succession, beginning with Taylor for two, edging the third ball he faced to first slip.
The batsmen had great difficulty in judging the line and length from Querl’s controversial action, but there could be no excuse for the poor strokes many of them played. Jaik Mickleburgh (16) defied the bowlers for 95 minutes, but when he left at 36 for seven, it seemed likely that Mid-West Rhinos would beat their record lowest innings total of 61.
This was saved by Remembrance Nyathi, who, in his first Logan Cup match of the season, played some brave strokes for 22 before being out to a soft dismissal, another slip catch off a weak stroke.
Querl bowled unchanged for 13 overs, taking five for 24. When he rested, Meth finished off the innings, taking four for 24, but he was not at his best. Mid-West Rhinos were dismissed for 65 not long after lunch, a sorry performance whatever the circumstances.
To their credit, though, they pulled themselves together in the field, with Edward Rainsford steaming in to inspire his side. Within three overs, the Matabeleland Tuskers openers Terry Duffin (3) and Brian Chari (0) were back in the pavilion, at which point the overcast skies finally dissolved into light rain.
After a break of half an hour, Craig Ervine tried to take charge, running to 13 off 10 balls, but then got a thick edge to an attempted drive off Rainsford and was caught at fourth slip, vindicating the attacking field placing; 21 for three.
However his brother Sean, in partnership with the Worcestershire player Moeen Ali, settled in and concentrated on steady accumulation. They were looking ominously solid when Ali (32) fell to a fine low catch at short midwicket by Vermeulen. Ervine, whose innings was most notably for its skilful cutting, soon followed for 38 – the highest score of the day – when he was very well caught in the deep off Rainsford: 93 for five.
The fortunate bowler on both occasions was Mluleki Nkala, a former Test all-rounder and now an occasional player.
Rainsford produced a superb delivery that totally foxed Charles Coventry (0), as the batsman shouldered arms and was bowled. Then Sean Williams drove a straight six off Nkala to bring up the hundred, with six wickets down, and he looked like taking over the stage. But once again a batsman looked good for a big score, only to lose his wicket unnecessarily, and Williams skied a catch into the deep when he had 25, the total being 124 for seven.
The brightest batting of the day came in a brief partnership of 29 in less than five overs between Meth (19) and Querl (30 not out) who presumably expected better than number nine after his recent monumental century. When bad light stopped play the score was 178 for eight, Chris Mpofu having hit a huge six.
Mid-West Rhinos are not totally out of this game, but they will have to bat extremely well in their second innings.