THE Zimbabwe Under-23 cricket side began their second three-day game of the United Cricket Board of South Africa Provincial Cup yesterday against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth. <
The Zimbabwean team lost the first three-day match by 122 runs to KwaZulu-Natal in Durban on Saturday. They then went on to lose again, this time in the one-day game on Sunday against the same side who beat them by 103 runs.
Zimbabwe’s defeat in the three-day game was a culmination of poor batting in the first innings where they slumped to 144 all out, a first-innings deficit of 157 runs after KwaZulu Natal had batted first and declared their innings at 301/9.
The Zimbabweans, however, witnessed some good bowling performance by medium-pacers Allan Mwayenga and Edward Rainsford, who shared seven wickets. Matabeleland all-rounder Greg Strydom took the other two wickets.
It was the left-arm bowler Mwayenga, however, who retained the best figures for the Zimbabwean outfit, taking 5/41 from his 13 overs as a first-change bowler.
Mwayenga is a promising young bowler who is steadily smoothening the rough edges of his bowling. Looking at his statistics, Mwayenga showed tremendous consistency with four of his wickets being caught behind, three by wicketkeeper Alester Maregwede, who is captaining the side, and the other by slip Mark Vermeulen. The other was a leg before wicket.
Midlands seamer Rainsford, on his return from a long lay-off due to injury, recorded characteristic economical figures of 11,1-6-24-2 as he tries to regain his place in the national team.
But again there was no complementarity for the bowlers’ efforts as five ducks in an innings was always going to render KwaZulu-Natal a huge lead.
When Zimbabwe fielded again, Mwayenga took the new ball with Rainsford, but Christopher Mpofu was the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers, claiming 2/23 from just seven overs. Offspinner Gavin Ewing chipped in with two wickets, with Rainsford and Mwayenga taking a wicket each.
Asked to chase a victory target of 357 runs, the Zimbabweans were bowled all out for 234 runs, but number-four batsman Colin de Grandhomme stood firmer to score a half-century. The 2004 Under-19 World Cup all-rounder was Zimbabwe’s best batsman in the match having been dismissed five runs short of a half-century in the first innings.
Mark Vermeulen fell three runs short of a half-century, but looks to be enjoying good form as he went on to score 65 runs in the 45-over one-day game on Sunday. Opening batsman, former Under-19 skipper Tino Mawoyo, scored 35, while Ewing contributed 34 runs batting at number eight.
Stephen Mangongo and Andy Pycroft are coaching the Under-23 side.