Southern Rocks – 203 and 23-3 in 13 overs (Sikandar Raza 14*, Brian Mudzinganyama 4, Roy Kaia 1*; Richard Ngarava 2/17, Tanaka Chivanga 1/1)
Alliance Health Eagles – 407 all out in 84.5 overs (Kudzai Maunze 183, Brad Evans 66, Tino Mutombodzi 34; Travor Mutsamba 5/81, William Mashinge 2/82, Sikandar Raza 1/56)
Day 2 – Stumps: Southern Rocks trail by 181 runs
A magnificent innings of 183 by Kudzai Maunze, the highest of his career, was the main factor in Alliance Health Eagles taking a strong grip on their match against the reigning Logan Cup champions, Southern Rocks, at Takashinga Sports Club on Saturday.
At the start of play Eagles were 60 for one wicket in reply to Rocks’ first-innings score of 203, with Maunze on 43 and Regis Chakabva on nine.
They took the score to 92, with Maunze the dominant partner, before Chakabva was caught by Richmond Mutumbami off the bowling of Travor Mutsamba for 24.
Mutsamba quickly bowled the Eagles captain, Chamu Chibhabha, for one, but Tino Mutombodzi played well to score 34 off 38 balls and take the score to 169 before he was caught by Tafadzwa Tsiga at the wicket off Sikandar Raza.
Wessly Madhevere proved another useful partner for Maunze, taking the score to 195 for four at lunch, when he had 17 and Maunze 108, having reached a stroke-filled century off just 101 balls.
At 209 Madhevere (23) was caught off William Mashinge, who also bowled Tinashe Kamunhukamwe for six, but then followed the biggest partnership of the innings as Brad Evans joined Maunze and the pair added 125 for the seventh wicket.
Evans wisely tempered his usual attacking style to support Maunze, who continued to plunder the bowling, moving past his previous highest first-class score of 150 not out.
At tea the score had reached 320 for six wickets, with Maunze on 180 and Evans 35.
Maunze could not get going again after tea, and was finally caught off Tendai Chisoro for 183.
He faced 211 balls in almost five-and-a-half hours, hitting 24 fours and three sixes, a magnificent innings.
For most of it he scored at virtually a run a ball, but seemed to tire somewhat towards the end.
Evans by now had started to attack the bowling more, and he made 66 off 91 balls, with two sixes and eight fours, before being caught off Mutsamba.
Tapiwa Mufudza made a useful 11, and then some powerful hitting by Tanaka Chivanga (26 not out), aided by Richard Ngarava (8), added a useful 32 for the last wicket and took the score past 400.
The eventual score was 407, slightly over double Rocks’ first-innings total, and therefore a big lead of 204 on the innings.
Mutsamba was the most successful bowler, taking five wickets for 81 runs, while Mashinge had two scalps.
Rocks had to begin their heavy task without the injured Innocent Kaia, and the success of the first innings, Tsiga, took his place at the top of the order with Brian Mudzinganyama.
Having to bat again immediately after keeping wicket for most of the day may have been too much for Tsiga, who was caught off Chivanga without scoring in the second over of the innings.
Brian Mudzinganyama and Tadiwanashe Marumani decided to dig in with great caution, but this soon proved to be bad policy, as it allowed the bowlers to get on top.
The score was only six in the seventh over when Mudzinganyama (4 off 19 balls) was caught by Chakabva off Ngarava, and three balls later Marumani, who faced 17 balls without scoring, was also caught off the same bowler, leaving Rocks reeling at seven for three wickets.
The more experienced Roy Kaia and Raza were now at the crease, with the latter hitting Ngarava for two successive fours.
They finished the day with one and 14 respectively, the score being 23 for three.
Still 181 runs in arrears, Rocks are going to have to stage a fightback worthy of champions if they are not to suffer defeat in three days.
Rhinos – 290 and 126-5 in 42 overs (Prince Masvaure 40, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 30, Tarisai Musakanda 19*; Brighton Chipungu 5/49)
Mountaineers – 159 all out in 50.3 overs (Wellington Masakadza 42, Tendai Chatara 35, Joylord Gumbie 33; Brandon Mavuta 5/67, Ryan Burl 4/34, Kudakwashe Macheka 1/14)
Day 2 – Stumps: Rhinos lead by 257 runs
In the other match at Harare Sports Club, the excellent spin bowling of Brandon Mavuta and Ryan Burl shattered the Mountaineers middle order and led to Rhinos taking a big advantage on the first innings.
Mountaineers began the day on 24 without loss against Rhinos’ score of 290 all out, with Joylord Gumbie on 15 and Kevin Kasuza four.
They made quite a good start, taking the score to 45 before Kasuza went for a big hit to leg off the leg-spinner Mavuta, only to be caught by Prince Masvaure.
The pre-lunch session may well turn out to be the decisive period of the match, as the Mountaineers top-order batting collapsed to the spinners.
Gary Chirimuuta fell to Kudakwashe Macheka for one, and then Mavuta had Timycen Maruma out lbw for eight.
Burl replaced Macheka, and in quick succession had Tony Munyonga (7) and Shingi Masakadza (0) caught by Tarisai Musakanda at slip – in fact, four of the six wickets to fall for 74 before lunch were to slip catches, two taken by Burl himself.
Gumbie was out caught by Burl off Mavuta for 33 in the last over before lunch, and Mountaineers were in deep trouble.
Donald Tiripano (2) fell after the break, caught off a skyer by Charles Kunje off Burl, and when Mavuta bowled Nyauchi for four Mountaineers were in deep trouble at 89 for eight wickets.
They needed to score 141 to avoid the possibility of being required to follow on, although Rhinos may well not have wanted to do so in the circumstances.
Wellington Masakadza was still there, and there came a welcome surprise for the beleaguered Mountaineers, as Tendai Chatara proved unexpectedly stubborn at No 10.
The pair began with care, but later started to attack the bowling with far more discrimination than some of their predecessors had shown.
They added 70 runs for the ninth wicket in just under an hour before Mavuta and Burl returned to dismiss them both in quick succession with the score on 159.
Rhinos thus gained a first-innings lead of 131 runs.
Mavuta had taken five wickets for 67 runs and Burl four for 34.
Rhinos enjoyed a fine start to their second innings, as Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Prince Masvaure put on 69 for the first wicket before another leg-spinner, Brighton Chipungu, came on and turned the innings, if not the match.
He had Kaitano caught for 30 and Masvaure for 40, quickly followed by Burl for one, to make it three wickets down for 85.
At 97 he moved Remembrance Nyathi lbw for 10, and then had Kunje caught at the wicket for 12, making the score now a less certain 100 for five wickets.
Before the close, though, Nyasha Mayavo (9 not out) and Musakanda (19 not out) had put on some useful runs, enabling Rhinos to reach 126 for five wickets.
Rhinos are now 257 runs ahead and still have five wickets in hand, so they are very much in the driver’s seat.