Northerns – 256 all out in 65.5 overs (Sikandar Raza 131, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 34, Tendai Chisoro 20; William Mashinge 3/33, Richard Ngarava 3/50, Milton Shumba 1/59)
Southerns – 33-4 in 10 overs (Brian Chari 14*, Wellingon Masakadza 6*, Kudzai Maunze 5; Victor Nyauchi 2/10, Tanaka Chivanga 2/20)
Day 1 – Stumps: Southerns trail by 223 runs
A brilliant century from Sikandar Raza, the seventh of his first-class career, 134 out of a total of 256, lit up the first day of this regional five-day match between Northerns and Southerns at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
He was completely dominant as no other player could summon up a memorable batting performance during the innings.
The day’s play looked like petering out quietly, but there were some sensations in the last half-hour or so, as the Southerns top order collapsed.
Wessly Madhevere, captain of the Northerns team, had won the toss against Craig Ervine, captain of Southerns, and decided to bat.
Takudzwanashe Kaitano opened the innings with Tanu Makoni who scored only five before he was bowled by Richard Ngarava, opening the attack with Ernest Masuku.
Tadiwanashe Marumani came in next, but had scored only four when he was forced to retire hurt after he got hit by the ball in the groin area.
This brought in Madhevere, who batted with Kaitano until the latter was caught by Wellington Masakadza off William Mashinge for a positive 34, scored off 51 balls, with the score at 55 for two wickets.
From the moment he came in Raza went for his strokes freely and soon quite dominated the bowlers.
At 91, Madhevere left to a catch off Masakadza after scoring 17, and Innocent Kaia was ironically enough caught first ball by his cousin Roy Kaia, who was fielding as a substitute, off Ngarava.
Clive Madande scored 17, and on his dismissal the score was an unimpressive 128 for five wickets, with a man retired hurt.
There followed the big stand of the day, as Tendai Chisoro joined Raza at the crease.
Chisoro wisely played a supporting role as Raza continued to attack, reaching his fifty off 58 balls and continuing the assault for a century off 116 balls.
He brought up the landmarks in style, hitting Masakadza for six to pass 50 and then doing the same to Shumba to reach three figures.
They added 109 for the seventh wicket before Chisoro was caught off Shumba and only three balls later Raza, his concentration perhaps disturbed, was bowled by Ngarava for a superb 131.
He hit six sixes and 12 fours, and the score was now 237 for seven wickets.
The tail scored only a few runs and the innings closed for 256, which meant that Raza had scored more than half his team’s total.
Marumani was unable to return, so Northerns were all out although only nine wickets had actually fallen.
The pace bowlers were the most effective, with Ngarava taking three wickets for 50 runs and Mashinge three for 33.
Southerns went in to bat for 10 overs before the close of the day, and made a disastrous start, as Tanaka Chivanga and Victor Nyauchi turned on the heat.
In his second over, Chivanga struck two deadly blows, as he trapped Prince Masvaure lbw without scoring with his first ball, and with his last had Craig Ervine caught by Nyauchi for two – the score nine for two wickets.
Without further addition, Kudzai Maunze became the third batter to fall, caught at the wicket off Nyauchi for five, and Southerns were in deep trouble.
At 16, Shumba became the fourth man out, caught off Nyauchi for two.
Brian Chari and Masakadza saw out the day safely, and remarkably Chari hit the last ball to be bowled, from Chivanga, for six, to leave the final score at 33 for four wickets; Chari with 14 and Masakadza six.