April 19, 2003

Gripper leads from the front for Mashonaland

Opener Trevor Gripper hit a century and Grant Flower scored an unbeaten half-century as Mashonaland launched a resilient comeback on the second day of their Logan Cup inter-provincial cricket tournament against Matabeleland at Queens Sports Club on Saturday.

Gripper scored 104 with Flower 89 not out as Mashonaland, in reply to Matabeleland's first-innings score of 411, closed the day on 335 for the loss of four wickets. The two were complemented by Dion Ebrahim and captain Tatenda Taibu who scored half-centuries each.

Earlier in the morning, Matabeleland could only add 21 runs to their overnight score of 391 for six wickets. Mluleki Nkala, yet to open his account, was back in the pavilion in the first over of the day, when he nicked a Douglas Hondo delivery to be caught behind by Tatenda Taibu. Hondo took another wicket in the same over, trapping left-handed Keith Dabengwa lbw for a duck.

Barney Rogers added ten runs to his overnight score of 133 before he was dismissed by Hondo when he played a powerful square drive off the pace bowler. Grant Flower tried to get his hands on it and the ball slipped through but Dion Ebrahim was there to take the catch to get rid of Rogers for 143.

Last man in Jordane Nicolle did not last either, falling to Trevor Gripper when he skied a delivery from the spinner, which presented Elton Chigumbura, fielding at silly mid-on, with an easy catch and Nicolle was out for a duck. Wisdom Siziba was left unbeaten with 12 runs as Matabeleland were shot out for 411 from 104 overs.

Hondo was the pick of the Mashonaland bowlers with a haul of four wickets at the cost of 94 runs from 27 overs, with four maidens. Waddington Mwayenga, Amos Maungwa, Craig Evans and Trevor Gripper grabbed one wicket apiece.

In reply, Mashonaland opened with Stuart Carlisle and Trevor Gripper, with skipper Heath Streak and Mluleki Nkala taking the new ball for Matabeleland. At first they wasted it with inaccurate bowling.

The Mashonaland opening partnership yielded only 36 runs when Heath Streak clean bowled Carlisle for nine runs, with the ball hitting the off stump and breaking it in the process.

Dion Ebrahim joined Gripper and the score started ticking along as the two took advantage of some loose bowling from Nkala, while Streak kept it tight on the other end. The Matabeleland skipper proved inexpensive, despite spraying the balls all over the show like confetti at a party.

Gripper went on to get his half-century from 51 balls after staying at the crease for 87 minutes and dispatching ten fours in the process. The tall opener reached his century after 181 minutes at the crease, facing 119 balls and scoring 18 fours. However he could add only four runs to his ton as he was dismissed by left arm spinner Keith Dabengwa, caught at first slip by Mark Vermeulen for 104, which came off 122 balls.

Grant Flower joined Ebrahim as the bid to avoid a follow-on continued and the two put on 23 for the third wicket before Ebrahim was run out for 59 attempting a quick single. Ebrahim called but Flower remained rooted to his crease with Ebrahim already half-way down the track. Streak threw the ball in for wicketkeeper Wisdom Siziba to finish off the run out before Ebrahim could make his ground.

Skipper Tatenda Taibu joined Flower and the two restored the Mashonaland innings, putting on 189 runs for the fourth wicket, which is the highest partnership so far in the match. Flower reached the half-century mark after facing o 60 balls with six fours and two sixes in 66 minutes. Taibu achieved the same feat after 119 minutes at the crease, facing 114 balls and smashing six fours and a six.

Streak grabbed his second wicket when he had Taibu given out leg before wicket for 65. The Matabeleland skipper was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, conceding 47 runs with five maidens from 16 overs.