from John Ward at Masvingo
Overnight: Southern Rocks (196 and 361) v Mashonaland Eagles (336 and 57/1).
The Kaia brothers, Roy and Innocent, together with Kudzai Maunze, enabled Southern Rocks to take the match into the final day at Masvingo Sports Club, although the visitors are still favourites to win.
All three batsmen reached the eighties, but unfortunately for the team were unable to convert their innings into the centuries that were needed to get into a winning position. Mashonaland Eagles were left with 222 to win in the final innings.
Southern Rocks continued from their overnight score of 81 for one, still 59 runs behind. The pitch had gradually flattened out during the second day and now gave the seam bowlers no help whatever. Both batsmen continued to bat sensibly and steadily, Innocent Kaia going to his fifty off 64 balls and Kudzai Maunze taking 79 balls. By morning drinks the deficit had been cleared with only one wicket down.
After reaching his half-century Maunze, who had been the slower of the two batsmen, began to attack and overtook his partner. The partnership reached 163 before Maunze, on 89, poked at a ball from Remembrance Nyathi and was caught at the wicket. Kaia was then on 72 and a century on first-class debut looked quite possible. However, when he had made 80, he hit a low catch to mid-on. He had batted for 134 balls and hit nine fours.
By lunch the total was 197 for three and Mashonaland Eagles were using their spinners as there was no help for the seamers and the weather was hot, although it was still surprising that Tafadzwa Muzarawetu, after taking eight wickets in the first innings, was not used at all during the morning.
During the afternoon, the occasional Logan Cup left-arm spinner Keith Kulinga enjoyed a long spell, taking three wickets. Prince Masvaure swiped and was bowled for 10, and Kulinga also removed Tendai Chisoro (11) and Trevor Garwe (8). The other batsman was Richmond Mutumbami, who made 23, unable to perform his usual rescue act. By tea the total was 300 for seven.
Roy Kaia was standing firm and playing well, and he was helped by the debutant Tafadzwa Tsiga, who made a valuable 36. The last pair did not last long, and Kaia was left stranded on a well-played 81, off 117 balls, having just succeeded in passing his brother’s score. The total was 361, leaving Mashonaland Eagles 222 to win. Kulinga, with four for 81, was the leading bowler; Muzarawetu this time managed only one, that of Tsiga, and so was unable to take 10 in the match.
Seventeen overs were left got the day. If Garwe had been able to cause the devastation he had in the first innings, Mashonaland Eagles might have been in trouble, but the pitch was so flat he was unable to be as effective. Chamunorwa Chibhabha was bowled by Masvaure for 13, and Mark Vermeulen began as if he wanted to finish the match today, hammering his second and third balls for four, and two further boundaries in Masvaure’s next over, one of which was a difficult opportunity of a return catch.
He had 29 off 27 balls by the close, with Keith Kondo on 14 and the total 57 for one wicket. Mashonaland Eagles are well placed to win the match on Thursday, especially considering how thin the Southern Rocks bowling is – but victory can never be taken for granted.