Matabeleland take the lead against Academy in Harare
Two differing innings dominated the second day's play, as Matabeleland took the lead against the CFX Academy and were 323 for six at the close. Greg Strydom hit an aggressive 91 while Wisdom Siziba, handicapped by injury, held the innings together with a dogged fifty.
The Matabeleland opening pair batted fairly sedately for half an hour, adding 24 to their overnight 10, before Stuart Walker (8) was trapped lbw by fellow debutant Colin Miller-type left-arm bowler Tom Benade, bowling in his seam mode.
Gavin Ewing, slightly overweight, talented but a little rustic at times, was more aggressive, strongest on the pull; aided by some short-pitched bowling, he reached his fifty off 55 balls with three pulls to the boundary off the obliging Innocent Chinyoka. The bowlers finally learned their lesson, and Ewing had no more `freebies'; on 58 he hammered Rushambwa into the covers where Chinyoka dived low to pick up one more to add to his remarkable tally of catches so far this Logan Cup season.
Ryan King, out of form, has a problem of walking across his stumps too much, and was soon lbw to Piet Rinke for 7, making Matabeleland 100 for three. Strydom began aggressively, like Ewing feasting to the full off the plethora of short deliveries, but when that supply dried up exhibited some attractive straight drives, some lofted. At lunch he had 22, having overtaken number three Siziba, who was struggling to find his touch due to a minor hand injury suffered in the field on the first day.
After lunch, Siziba hung in there with his usual dogged concentration, while Strydom played more aggressively, selecting his scoring shots generally with discretion. His occasional indiscretions were overlooked by the Academy, who dropped two chances, one hard and one easier. Again he was severe on the short deliveries, and again the Academy bowlers were too obliging at times.
Eventually Benade, in left-arm spin mode, broke the partnership with a quicker ball that yorked Strydom for 91, scored out of a stand of 125. Keith Dabengwa was badly dropped off a skyer into the covers, but failed to profit, as he was beaten and bowled by a ball, from Benade again, that spun sharply out of the rough, still without scoring. At this vital point Matabeleland were 225 for five.
Siziba reached his fifty soon after tea, off 207 balls, a dour effort but courageous and determined considering his hand injury. Mark McKillop kept him company and Matabeleland went into the lead just after the second new ball was taken. Chinyoka did not need its assistance to break the stand, though, as McKillop (49) got an inside edge to a full toss and edged the ball on to his stumps.
Andre Hoffman hand not bowled earlier due to a sore back, but then came on to dismiss Clement Mahachi (6) and Matthew Townshend (0) in one over just before the close, when Siziba remained unbeaten with 70 after batting for six hours.