March 24, 2002

CFX Academy lead by 189 at stumps on day 3 in Harare

A good finish could be in prospect tomorrow for the match between the CFX Academy and Matabeleland. At the close on the third day, the Academy were 189 runs ahead of the visitors with three wickets in hand. Andre Hoffman (70) and Gavin Ewing (four wickets with his off-breaks) were the individuals who will take most personal pleasure from the day's play.

Matabeleland resumed at 323 for eight, 26 runs ahead of the Academy, and overnight batsmen Wisdom Siziba and Colin Williams looked to have positive purpose. A useful stand was developing when a foolish run-out led to the dismissal of Williams for 13. In the next over Siziba's 400-minute, 330-ball marathon came to an end as he was trapped lbw to Andre Hoffman for 76; Matabeleland totalled 339, a lead of 42. Hoffman, the eighth bowler used and only reluctantly owing to back trouble, took three wickets for 10 runs, and debutant Tom Benade three for 62.

Matabeleland soon dismissed Conan Brewer, bowled for 3 by a full-length ball from Townshend. Thereafter Neeten Chouhan and Visi Sibanda made steady progress, although Chouhan was fortunate to survive a low chance at slip as soon as Keith Dabengwa came on to bowl, with the pitch taking spin. He celebrated, uncharacteristically, with two successive fours, and in fact played with much more freedom than he has previously shown at first-class level during his brief innings of 22, before he hit Ewing low to cover.

Andre Hoffman, with the confidence of a first-innings century, on-drove his first ball for four, and immediately carried on from where he left off the previous day. The batsmen settled in confidently for the afternoon session, although Hoffman was dropped at midwicket by Colin Williams, an easy catch to the Matabeleland captain. Williams has done little with the bat in his three matches, does not bowl and has been fallible in the field; he is in the side only for his captaincy and experience, which are highly rated, but may not be enough to keep him his place.

Sibanda (31) was less fortunate; also against Gavin Ewing, he tried to loft the ball wide of mid-on, only for Dabengwa to take a superb leaping catch to his left. Hoffman, in fine form, continued to drive with power, but on the stroke of tea pulled a short ball from Strydom straight to deepish midwicket, where Williams partly atoned for his earlier lapse by holding the catch; out for 70.

After tea Innocent Chinyoka and Glenn Goosen played some extravagant strokes, attacking perhaps not wisely but too well, as Chinyoka (17) was soon bowled swinging at Ewing. Ewing earned himself another wicket when he won an lbw decision against Piet Rinke (14), playing across the line.

This brought the aggressive Glen Barrett to the crease. He began a little uncertainly against the spinners, and it was Goosen who struck first, swinging Ewing over midwicket for six. Then Barrett found his touch, hitting Dabengwa straight for six - has any other batsmen hit at least one six in each of his first four first-class innings?

The second new ball quietened him down somewhat, apart from a slash over cover that almost brought a six; at times he looked quite tentative against none too threatening bowling. Finally an uppish defensive stroke enabled Strydom to pick up a low return catch to dismiss him for 17.

Goosen, having survived two spells of risky strokeplay, settled down for the close, finishing with 35, partnered by Tom Benade (4), and the total 231 for seven.