LOGAN CUP MATCH: MID-WEST RHINOS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 2 (28 November 2012), at Kwekwe Sports Club
Close of play: Mid-West Rhinos (65 and 341/4) v Matabeleland Tuskers (216)
There could still be a good finish to this match at Kwekwe Sports Club tomorrow as this afternoon a magnificent partnership of 257 between Brendan Taylor and Malcolm Waller turned the match on its head when Mid-West Rhinos looked almost dead and buried. After conceding a first-innings lead of 151, the home team had lost three wickets for 31 runs after a dismal showing by their first three batsmen, before the two local heroes came together. This meant by the close Mid-West Rhinos had a lead of 190 runs with six wickets remaining.
Matabeleland Tuskers resumed at their overnight total of 178 for eight, in much warmer and sunnier weather than on the first day. They soon lost Chris Mpofu, yorked by Richard Muzhange for 8, but then came an entertaining last-wicket partnership of 36 in four overs between Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube. Ncube played the leading part with 28 off 20 balls, while Querl finished unbeaten on 40 off 35 balls. His career batting average is currently 50, and while he cannot be expected to go in before Charles Coventry at number seven – yet – he should at least be promoted to eight ahead of Keegan Meth, whether the captain likes it or not. Muzhange finished with four wickets, including the last three, but the best bowler overall was Edward Rainsford, who took three.
Mid-West Rhinos were thus 151 runs behind on first innings and went in again with the threat of an innings defeat in two days a real possibility. Would they make a fight of it? First indications suggested not. The first three batsmen pushed and prodded so feebly that they handed all the initiative to the bowlers, and by the time they wound their inglorious way back to the pavilion the score was 31 for three in the 22nd over.
But Taylor was still there and he finally realized that such passive resistance was futile. He decided to break the shackles, hitting the spin of Moeen Ali for 14 in an over. After lunch, with Waller, the last of the other recognized batsmen, as his partner, he continued to attack with suitable discretion. He reached his fifty off 59 balls, and was later followed by Waller off 78. At this point Mid-West Rhinos went into the black, having wiped off their heavy deficit with three wickets down. It was now possible to see that this powerful Tuskers bowling attack can be mastered after all, even though the pitch was still giving them a little help. By tea they had taken the total to 181 for three, a lead of 30 runs – but with their long unreliable tail a great many more were still needed to retain any hope of a big total.
Soon after tea Taylor, now on 84, had a lucky escape as Ali at deep midwicket made a poor job of attempting a catch into the sun. He went on to reach his 17th career century, completed off 135 balls; Waller’s, when it came, took 177 balls, but he had more of the bowling than Taylor. Apart from an occasional risky stroke, both showed excellent judgment and concentration, showing up clearly the miserable lack of application shown by batsmen from both teams before they began their epic stand.
It was a pity such a fine partnership had to end in folly, but Sean Ervine came on to bowl spin, beginning with a high leg-side full toss that Taylor rightfully hit to the boundary. This tempted him to take a cross-batted swing at the next ball, straighter and lower, only to drag it on to his wicket. He made 140 off 163 balls, with 22 fours and a six. The partnership had added 257 runs, the score now being 288 for four. Ervine bowled two overs of these donkey-drops for 19 runs (including two sixes) and a wicket, before making way for the second new ball. Simon Mugava batted well with Waller till the close, the batsmen finishing on 24 and 132 respectively.
On the face of it Mid-West Rhinos, with six wickets left, are in a good position at the close with six wickets left. But their tail is fragile, and this current Logan Cup programme has shown that anything can happen.