Mid-West Rhinos began the day at 41 for one wicket, after bowling Southern Rocks out for 150 on the first day. They began cautiously but not well, as with only a single added they lost their captain Vusi Sibanda, lbw to Tinashe Panyangara for 18. But this was the last sniff of success the home side was to enjoy for a long, long time. Waller came in to join Ballance, and the two of them laid a solid foundation, concentrating on survival until, after about half an hour together, they began to work the ball around the field, finding the gaps and getting the runs flowing. This was to be the hallmark of their long partnership: although they hit the bad balls to the boundary with skill and power, they never failed to rotate the strike frequently through good judgment and placing, Ballance in particular. Ballance played a particularly impressive stroke when he hit a superbly timed six over cover off the medium-pace of Robertson Chinyengetere.
The batting was all the more impressive due to the fact that there was some very good bowling from the Southern Rocks attack before lunch. Panyangara and Prince Masvaure both got the ball to swing, and Waller in particular struggled to survive at times. But he battled through with great determination, although 33 runs in almost two hours before lunch is very restrained for him. But he was to reap the reward for such diligence later in the day.
Fifteen minutes after lunch Mid-West Rhinos went into the lead, passing the 150 of the home side with only two wickets down. The next landmark was Ballance’s sixth first-class century, all scored within the last year, followed by Waller’s fifty. Both batted with more freedom afterwards, and the Southern Rocks bowlers began to struggle. There was only one real chance of a breakthrough, when Ballance, 146 at the time, cut a ball low to backward point, but the fielder could not hold on to it. He had passed his previous best score of 132 and was obviously setting out his stall for a really big innings.
Waller had to go in to tea on 99, but soon afterwards he off-drove a powerful four to reach his fifth career century. Like his partner, he was hungry for more and quite unprepared to throw his wicket away. To make matters worse for Southern Rocks, they lost their two new-ball bowlers, Panyangara and Taurai Muzarabani, to injury, and before long Masvaure followed them from the field. Just once did Ballance’s concentration seem to fail, when he was on 182 and stepped out of his crease to try to hit a ball from Roy Kaia out of the ground; he missed, but so did the keeper.
Half an hour before the close, Waller reached his 150, and almost immediately afterwards Ballance reached the rare landmark of 200, which took him 327 balls. Another record almost fell, that of 342 for the Zimbabwe all-time record for any wicket by Paul Horton and Gavin Ewing (for the second wicket) for Matabeleland Tuskers on this same ground against the same opponents last season. But Ballance, no doubt unaware that they were one short of the record, tried to swing a ball from Roy Kaia over midwicket and finally perished to a catch near the midwicket boundary. He hit 20 fours and two sixes, having faced 393 deliveries.