Mashonaland v Manicaland, Day 2, Mutare September 14, 2003

Gripper hits 234 to put Manicaland on top

Mashonaland 186 for 5 (Evans 50*, Blignaut 54*) trail Manicaland 523 (Gripper 234) by 337 runs

Manicaland, after scoring 523, put themselves into a strong position to inflict the first defeat on Mashonaland in first-class cricket for eight years, reducing them to 186 for 5 at the close of second day with Grant Flower unable to bat.

Mashonaland began the day at a considerable disadvantage: Flower had returned to Harare to have a surgeon deal with his broken thumb, Craig Evans was still suffering from his sprained ankle and Dion Ebrahim was suffering from flu, but both gamely took the field. They received no sympathy from Manicaland though.

It took Trevor Gripper 40 minutes to move from his overnight 160 to his first double-century. Since his father Ray holds the national record for an innings of 279 not out, this is the first father-son combination to pass 200 in Zimbabwean cricket. He continued to accumulate, never allowing his concentration to slacken, until he was caught on the midwicket boundary for 234. He left the field disappointed that he had failed to stay until the end of the innings, but he had at least left a strong message with the national selectors.

Eager to rub it in, Manicaland batted on after lunch, with Innocent Chinyoka last man out for 45. Extras were the second-top scorer with 52 (37 of them no-balls). The now absent Flower, with 3 for 61, was the most successful bowler.

Mashonaland struggled from the start, losing both openers for 26. That was then followed by a stand of 44 between Stuart Carlisle (41) and an unusually restrained Tatenda Taibu (12), but both had their fare share of luck. Carlisle was dropped early on, while Taibu was given not out for a snick to the keeper that the umpire could not hear due to a strong wind.

But after they were out, Mashonaland crashed to 83 for 5 before the last available pair of recognised batsmen, the hobbling Craig Evans and Andy Blignaut, fought back. One more wicket would have exposed the tail, but Manicaland, though striving hard, were unable to take it against determined batting. At the close Evans finished on 50 and Blignaut 54, and both are major obstacles to Manicaland's success.