Masakadza's career-best ensures draw
Mountaineers 191 (Smith 66, Cremer 3-73) and 446 for 7 (Masakadza 208*, Mawoyo 55, Cremer 4-161) drew with Mid West Rhinos 460 for 6 dec. (Taylor 110, Ballance 104, Maruma 2-68)
A maiden first-class double-hundred from captain Hamilton Masakadza helped Mountaineers salvage a draw against Mid West Rhinos at Kwekwe Sports Club. The visitors were bowled out for 191 in their first innings and forced to follow on, but Masakadza shared in partnerships of 77 with opener Tino Mawoyo and 130 with Mark Vermeulen to secure the result on his way to an unbeaten 208.
Masakadza's marathon effort made up for his erroneous decision to put Mid West Rhinos in to bat on a docile pitch after winning the toss. The Mountaineers attack, without Shingi Masakadza who was rested for this match after picking up a back strain, were put to the sword on the first day as Brendan Taylor and Gary Ballance put on a massive 227 for the first wicket.
Taylor, who was dropped twice, was the first to his hundred just after tea but then slashed at a wide ball to be caught behind for 110. Mountaineers fought back through offspinner Prosper Utseya, who removed Ballance - for 104 - and Vusi Sibanda in the same over as the hosts slipped to 234 for 3. But the Rhinos were able to declare at a healthy 460 for 6 after half-centuries from Friday Kasteni and Malcolm Waller, and their seamers soon had Mountaineers in deep trouble.
They had crashed to 45 for 5 before a late revival through Greg Smith and Utseya's combined efforts. They put on 107 for the sixth wicket, both passing fifty, but once they were removed the tail soon folded and Mountaineers were skittled for 191, still 269 runs adrift of the Rhinos' first-innings effort.
Mountaineers' batsmen showed much better application in the second innings, Masakadza and Mawoyo shaking off Jonathan Beukes' second failure of the match with a counter-attacking partnership. Mawoyo was eventually removed for an 82-ball 55 that included five fours and two sixes, but Masakadza then found a willing partner in Vermeulen and they took Mountaineers to 223 for 2 at the close on the third day.
Masakadza went to his hundred early the next morning and, though Vermeulen fell for 46, battling innings from the lower middle order aided his efforts to deny Rhinos victory. He surpassed his previous first-class best of 188, made against Mashonaland Eagles last season, striking 24 fours and three sixes to reach a double century shortly before the game was declared a draw.