Zimbabwe ‘A’ have their work cut out after SA ‘A’ take big lead

Zimbabwe A – 344 and 22-2 in 15 overs (Takudzwanashe Kaitano 10*, Brian Mudzinganyama 8, Timycen Maruma 3*; Daryn Dupavillon 2/9). South Africa A – 603-4 declared in 135 overs (Zubayr Hamza 222*, Sinethemba Qeshile 124*, Ryan Rickelton 109; Roy Kaia 3/98, Tanaka Chivanga 1/101). Day 3 – Stumps: Zimbabwe A trail by 237 runs

Roy Kaia’s three wickets for 98 was about the only positive to come for Zimbabwe A in their long ordeal on the third day of their four-day match against South Africa A at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.

The highlight for the tourists was the huge unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 338 between Zubayr Hamza and Sinethemba Qeshile that ran the Zimbabwean bowlers into the ground and put their team in a powerful position with a declaration at 603.

At the close Zimbabwe A had made a bad start to their second innings, having lost two wickets for 22 runs. The day began with South Africa A on 257 for two wickets, with Ryan Rickelton on 105 and Hamza 19.

Zimbabwe A opened their bowling this morning with Tapiwa Mufudza and Kaia, and the move paid off well, as in the fourth over Rickelton lashed a ball from Kaia into the covers and was caught by Takudzwanashe Kaitano, making the score 265 for three wickets.

Senuran Muthusamy came in next, meaning four out of the first five South African batsmen in this match were left-handers. Muthusamy lasted only three balls, however, before he stretched forward defensively to Kaia, missed and was given out lbw without scoring.

With Qeshile coming in next, for the first time in the innings there were two right-handed batsmen at the crease. Queshile took 20 balls to score his first runs, but Hamza was batting aggressively from the start.

He drove a ball from Kaia for six and reached his fifty off 78 balls, just after the 300 came up on the board. Three overs later 80 overs had been bowled and the second new ball became available, although it was not taken immediately.

Queshile took a while to settle in before he too began to attack the bowling. Both were still together when the Zimbabwe A total of 344 was passed, with only four wickets down.

At this point the second new ball was taken, with Tendai Chatara and Tanaka Chivanga to use it. Hamza was not deterred by it and hit two fours off Chatara’s first over.

Chatara followed up with two maiden overs to Qeshile, though, after which lunch was taken at 369 for four, with Hamza now on 93 and Qeshile 32, the partnership having put on 104 at this point.

After lunch Hamza hit Chatara for two fours in an over again, reaching his century off 147 balls. Not content with a mere century, he moved his way onwards, and his partnership with Qeshile continued to grow.

A beautifully timed hook for four off Chatara brought Qeshile his fifty off 117 balls; Hamza was now on 136. For Hamza, 150 came off 187 balls, and then came the double-century partnership with Qeshile, the team score reaching 465.

The 500 appeared on the board just before tea, when the exact total was 506 for four wickets: Hamza now had 178 and Queshile 75. The Zimbabwean bowlers’ weary toil continued after tea.

Chivanga showed some pace and hostility when he opened the bowling after the interval, some of his deliveries really testing the batsmen, but with their personal landmarks in sight they hung in and weathered the storm.

Qeshile hit Kaia for two successive fours to bring up the first first-class century of his career, which took him 186 balls. In the next over Hamza swung a leg-side delivery from Chivanga for four to complete the second double-century of his career, having faced 226 balls – he soon exceeded his previous highest of 203 not out.

Another four from Qeshile brought up the 300-run partnership.The declaration finally came when the total passed 600 – 603 for four wickets, to be exact.

Hamza was not out with 222, scored off 240 balls with 28 fours and three sixes, while Qeshile was not out with 124, off 213 balls with 17 fours. Their partnership had put on 338, which is the first fifth-wicket partnership to exceed 300 in all first-class cricket involving a Zimbabwean team.

This is the first total of over 600 recorded against any Zimbabwean team since Sri Lanka scored 713 for three against a weakened Zimbabwe team in the Bulawayo Test match of May 2004.

Kaia took three of the four wickets to fall, while Chivanga took the other, for 101 runs. Brian Mudzinganyama and Kaitano opened the second innings for Zimbabwe A after a long day in the field, and naturally played a cautious game.

They were looking quite sound until, with nine runs on the board, Mudzinganyama (8) fatally shouldered arms to a ball from Daryn Dupavillon that moved in off the pitch and shattered his stumps.Then two balls later Wessly Madhevere was trapped lbw by the same bowler with the score unchanged.

Kaitano did a sterling job for the team in holding out until the close, when he had 10, while Timycen Maruma, a concussion substitute along with Chivanga for Dion Myers and Milton Shumba, was not out with three.

Zimbabwe A will have a very stern battle tomorrow if they are to salvage a draw from this match.