Ebrahim puts Manicaland in charge

Manicaland 181 and 309 for 5 (Marumisa 59, Ebrahim 166*) lead Midlands 239 (Sibanda 62, Matsikenyeri 5-41) by 251 runs

When two indifferent teams play mediocre cricket, it is comparatively easy for one individual who rises above the pack to turn in a matchwinning performance. Dion Ebrahim probably did this on the second day for Manicaland against Midlands at Mutare Sports Club. Batting for most of the day, he played an outstanding innings of 166 not out, taking his team to 309 for 5 at the close.

Earlier Manicaland had conceded a first-innings lead of 58, thanks to an impressive 45 from the debutant Hilary Matanga at No. 9. Midlands totalled 239, but Ebrahim bucked the trend of low scores. Helped by 59 from opener Johnson Marumisa in a second-wicket stand of 142, he showed determination and enterprise from the start. The third century of his career came off 143 balls, and he played many fine drives - which he rarely shows in international matches.

Ebrahim's international place, especially in one-dayers, has been under criticism even in the present weakened Zimbabwe team, but he can hardly have done more to impress the watching selector Richie Kaschula. By the close Manicaland were 251 ahead with five wickets still in hand, and Ebrahim eyeing a possible double-century. His previous-highest of 182 was scored on this ground two years ago, for Mashonaland against Manicaland.