By John Ward at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
Close of play, Day 1: Southern Rocks (190) v Matabeleland Tuskers (106/4)
Steve Chimhamhiwa on Tuesday underlined his credentials as a worthy successor to Njabulo Ncube, Keegan Meth and Glenn Querl, the lost members of Matabeleland Tuskers’ recently feared pace attack, with a fine display of fast bowling that brought him six cheap wickets against Southern Rocks.
Richmond Mutumbami was the only batsman, in fact, of the whole day, who made a worthy score and Luke Jongwe followed up his sensational century at Masvingo two weeks ago with some incisive bowling that brought his team back on fairly level terms with the reigning champions.
It was a hot, sunny day in Bulawayo with a pitch that was good for batting, but also gave a little movement to the seamers and some spin to the spinners, so Southern Rocks took the obvious course in deciding to bat on winning the toss. They went out in a positive mood, but did not always apply their intent wisely, as some poor strokes cost several of their leading batsmen their wickets.
Bernard Mlambo and Innocent Kaia opened the batting and looked to play their strokes, when they may have been wiser to take more care in building their innings. They played some flashy strokes, the result being that Kaia was bowled by Chimhamhiwa for 7 and Mlambo caught at the wicket off Tawanda Mupariwa for 9. Two wickets were down for 20.
Kudzai Maunze and Mutumbami likewise attacked the bowling in rather risky fashion, putting on 57 in less than 12 overs, with Mutumbami leading the way. Mutumbami on 37 was dropped off a difficult chance to the keeper, but soon afterwards Maunze was out in almost ludicrous fashion, aiming a cross-batted slog at a ball from John Nyumbu that was well outside the off stump, and being superbly caught by the bowler dashing to his right towards mid-on: 77 for three.
Mutumbami reached his fifty off 58 balls, being perhaps better equipped to dominate the bowling than his team-mates, but this was not one of his usual steady, solid innings. He was on 55 at lunch, with Prince Masvaure, 16, in a total of 113 for three.
This was a fair start for a team of limited batting like Southern Rocks, but the afternoon session saw a steady decline.
Masvaure, who had batted more solidly than the others, skied a cut and was caught at backward point for 17. Mutumbami would probably have reached a century with a little more care, but he went for 87; he hit Mupariwa for two fours in an over, but the bowler got his revenge, beating and bowling him with his final delivery. Southern Rocks were now 155 for five.
Mupariwa also removed Roy Kaia, who did not look really comfortable, leg before wicket (lbw) for 13, but Jongwe was playing quite well until he steered a short ball from Chimhamhiwa into the gully, departing for 22.
Charles Kunje (7), on debut, tried to pull a short ball and was caught at midwicket, while in quick succession Tafadzwa Tsiga was lbw and Cuthbert Musoko yorked to close the innings for 191, leaving Trevor Garwe not out at number nine without facing a ball.
Chimhamhiwa had taken the last four wickets in only seven balls, and finished with his best figures of six for 42 in only 10 overs. He bowled fast and straight, with an occasional quick short ball, and the tail-enders in particular were hapless against him. Mupariwa also bowled well to take three wickets, and the off-spinner John Nyumbu only got one, but did valuable work and deserved better.
The leading Matabeleland Tuskers batsmen were more restrained in their batting than the visitors had been, but did not look particularly confident.
Nkosana Mpofu struggled to 7 before Masvingo trapped him lbw, while Bornaparte Mujuru (20) fell the same way to Jongwe who, at a lively medium pace, caused more trouble by having Brian Chari caught at second slip for 8 and Keith Dabengwa in the gully for 12. At 75 for four the innings was at the crossroads.
Tawanda Mupariwa is having plenty of opportunity to develop his all-round skills this season, and now he joined Godwill Mamhiyo, the two settling down to build sold innings and they survived until the close, the total then being 106 for four. Mamhiyo, unbeaten on 33, became the second-top scorer of the day.
Southern Rocks are making a good fight of this match in the field and there is the potential for a close contest.