CEPHAS Zhuwao, the Chris Gayle of Zimbabwe cricket, found that fortune favours the brave as he scored his maiden first-class century at Harare Sports Club yesterday for Harare Metropolitan Eagles and turned the tables on Midlands Rhinos who had led on first innings. Zhuwao survived several miscued strokes and difficult chances and was still unbeaten at the close with 167 not out, the highest Logan Cup score of the season, with 16 fours and nine sixes to his credit.
Great credit must also go to Kudzai Maunze, his partner in a double-century partnership for the second wicket, who contributed an invaluable 76. Overnight Rhinos were 87 for five wickets in reply to the Eagles first-innings total of 171, with Nyasha Mayavo on 12 and Prince Masvaure on four. Mayavo batted positively from the start, always looking for runs, while Masvaure played with great caution.
Masvaure was the first to go, though, bowled by Tapiwa Mufudza for 19, with the score now 128 for six after a partnership of 54.
Tendai Chisoro showed aggressive intent, with two fours and a six in his first seven balls.
He has far too much batting talent to go in at number eight with a career average of only 15.
Mayavo has been another frequent under-performer with the bat in his career, but on this occasion he reached an impressive fifty off 83 balls, at a time when it was most needed.
He went on to score 63 off 88 balls, with 10 fours, before Tino Mutombodzi bowled him, with the score 176 for seven and Rhinos just having got into the lead.
Mutombodzi then did the same to Kyle Jarvis, bowled for five; 183 for eight.
Chisoro now seemed to have run out of adrenaline, but Trevor Gwandu made some good hits and brought up the 200 for the team. He hit a six over long-off off Mufudza, but Mutombodzi also tricked him out, as he skyed a catch to mid-off for 20, leaving his team at 216 for nine.
The innings came to an end at 224, as Chisoro swept a ball from Mutombodzi and was caught inside the midwicket boundary for 34, leaving Mike Chinouya one not out.
Mutombodzi finished with figures of four for 24, with two wickets each for Trevor Garwe, who made the early breakthrough, and Tafadzwa Muzarawetu, who bowled with persistence and accuracy.
Eagles went in for their second innings 53 runs in arrears, with Zhuwao and Chamu Chibhabha facing the bowling of Chinouya and Jarvis. Good bowling forced the batsmen to fight for their runs, which they did well, although Zhuwao did get away with two skyers that fell clear of the fielders.
For once Chibhabha scored the faster of the two, and of the 51 they put on for the first wicket Chibhabha scored 33, although having more of the bowling, and Zhuwao 16.
Then Chisoro came on to bowl and immediately trapped Chibhabha lbw, at the drinks interval as so often happens.
But Rhinos showed signs of losing their grip when Masvaure brought himself on to bowl for four overs that cost 38 runs, Kudzai Maunze hitting him for three successive fours at one stage.
Zhuwao reached what was for him a very restrained fifty off 70 balls, the total then being 115 for one.
At tea the score was 129 for one, with Zhuwao on 56 and Maunze 33.
The afternoon session had begun with Rhinos having a significant lead on the first innings, and ended with Eagles having seized the advantage.
After tea the batsmen appeared quite dominant: Maunze reached his fifty off 69 balls and Zhuwao swept past his previous highest first-class score of 82.
He escaped another skyer that fell just beyond the reach of a fielder and was missed by the wicket-keeper standing up when he edged a hard slash off Chisoro when on 94, but then swung the ball over midwicket for six to complete his maiden century in 41 first-class matches; it took him 130 balls.
In the next over he hit a six over long-on, which was just centimetres too high for the fielder there to hold.
Zhuwao continued to attack, and so dominant was he that Rhinos placed four boundary fielders on the leg side — all in vain. His 150 came up off 162 balls, earning his side a bonus point in the Logan Cup table, just after the 200 partnership was passed.
There seemed to be no way to split the pair, but it eventually came through a run-out. Zhuwao drove a ball to long-on and Maunze called for a second run, but a fine throw from Jarvis ran him out for 76, ending the partnership at 228.
It was a fine innings in its own right, and he faced 117 balls, hitting 12 fours.
Stumps – Day 2: Harare Metropolitan Eagles lead by 254 runs with seven wickets remaining.
Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 171 and 307-3 in 60 overs (Cephas Zhuwao 167*, Kudzai Maunze 76, Chamu Chibhabha 33; Tendai Chisoro 2/118)
Midlands Rhinos – 224 all out in 60.3 overs (Nyasha Mayavo 63, Peter Moor 49, Tendai Chisoro 34; Tino Mutombodzi 4/24, Tafadzwa Muzarawetu 2/33, Trevor Garwe 2/49) — Zimcricket