Former South Africa allrounder Andrew Hall sizzled with both bat and ball to lead a recovery for Mashonaland Eagles who ended with first-innings points against Mid West Rhinos in Harare. The Eagles' top order collapsed in both innings, more dramatically in the second, but each time Hall was around to guide them to safety. He also led the bowling in the crucial first innings, picking up three wickets as Eagles took a narrow 33-run lead.
The Eagles were rattled on the opening morning by Ian Nicolson, who removed the openers in his third and fourth overs. The wobble continued for Eagles, and they were struggling at 106 for 5 soon. Hall (70) started the rescue effort in the company of Ryan Butterworth (61), and then consolidated along with Mark Mbofana (68). The tail hung around long enough to see Eagles through to 319.
Rhinos began promisingly despite the early loss of Brendan Taylor, and young Gary Ballance - nephew of former Zimbabwe captain Dave Houghton - anchored the innings with his third century in his ninth first-class game. At 261 for 5, they were on their way to taking the lead, but Hall brought Eagles back in the game, trapping Ballance leg-before for 125. Rhinos caved in after that to be dismissed for 286.
They came back strongly at Eagles though, and the new-ball pair of Nicolson and Ed Rainsford scythed through the top order to leave Eagles tottering at 38 for 5, a lead of only 71. Hall rose to the occasion with an unbeaten hundred, carrying his side to safety along with Regis Chakabva (60) and Chad Keegan (45). Hall's busy innings allowed Eagle to declare on 274 for 9, setting Rhinos a target of 308. Taylor made 67 as Rhinos replied with 137 for 3 before the match was called off.
There were runs aplenty for both Matabeleland Tuskers and Southern Rocks, who played out a high-scoring draw at the Masvingo Sports Club. Neither side was bowled out in the match, with the Tuskers picking up the solitary point for gaining the first-innings lead, although that came courtesy of a declaration from bottom-of-the-table Rocks.
Matabeleland piled up 583 for 7 declared in their first innings on the back of a mammoth 342-run partnershp between Paul Horton and Gavin Ewing for the second wicket. The pair came together after legspinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi had removed Terry Duffin for 27, and proceeded to bat out the remainder of the day. Horton eventually fell to the hard-working Kamungozi, but not before the Tuskers had gone past 400, and he had racked up his highest first-class score of 209. Kamungozi, who bowled 41 overs in the inning, then had Ewing caught nine short of his own double-century. Charles Covernty then chipped in with an entertaining 72 that included seven fours and six.
Rocks began shakily, losing two wickets for 42 but Chamu Chibhabha and Craig Ervine steadied the ship with a century-partnership, before Chibhabha was bowled by Keegan Meth for 74. Ervine continued on untroubled, and finding a willing partner in Richmond Mutumbhani, took Rocks past the 300-mark.
With the game already heading for draw, the Rocks declardedon 342 for 5, with Irvine on 167 and Mutumbhani on 54. The Tuskers then threw their bats around, racing to 76 for 2 from 13.3 overs before declaring, giving the Rocks 10 overs to bat, in which they made 36 for no loss.