LOGAN CUP MATCH: MID-WEST RHINOS v MASHONALAND EAGLES
Day 2 at Kwekwe Sports Club, 23 January 2013
Close of play: Mashonaland Eagles (166 and 84/4) v Mid-West Rhinos (279)
Graeme Cremer is fit, flourishing and all ready to tour West Indies, judging by his form for Mid-West Rhinos on the second day of their Logan Cup match against Mashonaland Eagles at Kwekwe Sports Club.
Cremer did not bowl at his best on the first day, but in the Mashonaland Eagles second innings he teased, tossed and flighted, luring the batsmen to destruction with all his old guile and skill. The visitors, who fell 113 runs behind on the first innings, ended the day still 29 runs behind with six wickets in hand.
Mid-West Rhinos resumed on their overnight score of 108 for one, with Vusimuzi Sibanda on 40 and Mark Vermeulen 61. Vermeulen continued to bat in the extravagant vein he had shown the previous afternoon, running to 67 off 74 balls before he slashed at a widish ball from Nathan Waller and was caught at slip. Sibanda also failed to register the big innings his team needed, as Waller made a ball lift unexpectedly and wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva brought off a good flying catch: out for 56. Mid-West Rhinos were now 137 for three.
Mashonaland Eagles, greatly enthusiastic at the fall of both these wickets, were fighting back. It was perspiration rather than inspiration, as the bowlers worked hard to keep the batsmen pinned down and the fielders gave little away.
Malcolm Waller broke the shackles with a six off Raymond Price, and Peter Moor gave him good support in a partnership of 70, as they took the lead over Mashonaland Eagles and passed 200 while together. In the over before lunch, Moor hit Prosper Utseya for six, but the experienced bowler struck back next ball with a faster ball of fuller length that beat and bowled him for 37. Mid-West Rhinos were 207 for four at the interval.
This left Waller in with the notorious Mid-West Rhinos tail, which as so often crumbled gently – the last six batsmen scoring only 33 runs between them. Waller was not in his best form and he struggled to farm the bowling. He made 73 and was ninth out when he unwisely attempted a reverse sweep against Tinotenda Mutombodzi and was caught at backward point.
The innings closed for 279, a slight disappointment after the good overnight position. Innocent Chinyoka took three for 62, and there were two wickets each for Nathan Waller, Price and Mutombodzi.
Mashonaland Eagles, 113 runs behind, went in a second time after tea with yet another opening pair in Keith Kondo and Clement Rizhibowa. They did not look very convincing, and Mike Chinouya soon trapped Kondo lbw for five. Rizhibowa soon followed for 15, perishing in the deep as he swept a ball from Cremer, but Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Regis Chakabva fought back positively. Just as they were looking well settled, Chakabva (11) was out to a superb catch at slip by Vusimuzi Sibanda, who dived to hold a firm cut from Cremer’s bowling. Mashonaland Eagles were 59 for three.
Cremer now seemed to be back to his best form, spinning the ball right up to the batsmen and causing them all sorts of trouble. Chibhabha tried to hit him off his length, only to miscue a ball into the covers and depart for 37: 73 for four.
Stuart Matsikenyeri and Sikandar Raza Butt played with great care to survive until the close, but unless Mashonaland Eagles find a way to counter Zimbabwe’s best attacking spin bowler and effect a remarkable recovery on the morrow, they appear to be doomed to defeat, probably in three days.