Ballance double sets up innings victory
The English county imports made the biggest splash in the second round of games in the Logan Cup, Yorkshire's Gary Ballance and Hampshire's Liam Dawson, in his first season of Zimbabwean domestic cricket, putting in eye-catching performances. While the Zimbabwe-born Ballance set up a massive victory for Mid West Rhinos, however, Dawson's century and seven-wicket haul was not enough to inspire Mountaineers, who sank to their second defeat.
Ballance began his second Logan Cup season with a punishing double-hundred - the first of his career - in Mid West Rhinos' massive innings-and-215-run win over Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club. Michael Chinouya's five-wicket haul had kept Rocks to just 150 in their first innings after they opted to bat, after which Ballance combined with Malcolm Waller to add a remarkable 341 for the third wicket.
The pair cracked 49 boundaries between themselves as Southern Rocks, driven to a state of exhaustion, used no less than nine bowlers in an attempt to break through. Ballance eventually departed for 210, while Waller reached a career-best 174 before he was caught off the bowling of Richmond Mutumbami - the Rocks wicketkeeper who temporarily removed his gloves and pads to send down a few overs.
Rocks found it impossible to recover from the battering, former Zimbabwe Under-19 offspinner Simon Mugava completing an eight-wicket match haul as they were bowled out for a paltry 137 on the third day.
At Mutare Sports Club, Mountaineers slumped to a 132-run loss to Mashonaland Eagles despite a first-innings 110 and career-best 7 for 51 from Dawson. Dawson had carried Mountaineers' response to Eagles' first-innings total of 267. His partnership of 70 for the third-wicket with Hamilton Masakadza was the only stand of note as Mountaineers conceded a 38-run lead.
Sikandar Raza (74) and Forster Mutizwa (83) extended Eagles' advantage with a 65-run partnership in the second innings, but after both men had been removed by Dawson's left-arm spin the rest of the batting fell in a heap. From 114 for 1, Eagles collapsed to 212 all out with all but one wicket falling to spin.
The effectiveness of the slow bowlers suggested the fourth-innings chase would be a difficult one, and as Mountaineers set off in pursuit of 251, that proved to be the case. Ray Price was given the new ball and eight wickets fell to spin - with Tinotenda Mutombodzi taking 4 for 25 - as Mountaineers were bowled out for 118 to send Eagles to the top of the points table with their second win in as many games.