Zhuwao blasts his way to third highest individual score in Logan Cup history

Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 171 and 501 all out in 107.1 overs (Cephas Zhuwao 265, Kudzai Maunze 76, Tino Mutombodzi 39; Tendai Chisoro 6/192, Tendai Maruma 2/75)

Midlands Rhinos – 224 and 160-5 in 40 overs (Tendai Maruma 62, Nyasha Mayavo 41*, Bothwell Chapungu 22; Tino Mutombodzi 2/16, Tapiwa Mufudza 2/74)

Stumps Day 3: Midlands Rhinos require another 289 runs with five wickets remaining

Cephas Zhuwao, the aggressive left-handed opening batsman for Harare Metropolitan Eagles, is known in local cricket as ‘Big Bully’ for his brutal hitting, but so often in the past he has been written off as a one-day batsman — and indeed, in 40 first-class matches before today his highest score was 82 at an average of only 23.

On this occasion, however, he finally put all his talent under powerful mental control as he not only ran up the highest-ever first-class Logan Cup score but also the third-highest first-class score ever made by a Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe cricket — 265 against Midlands Rhinos at Harare Sports Club.

This score has only been beaten by Ray Gripper, who scored 279 not out against Free State in 1967/68, and Dave Houghton, 266 in a Test match against Sri Lanka in 1994/95.

Zhuwao showed superb self-discipline and concentration that he has never revealed before for long, in resolutely defending so many good deliveries for seven hours and 17 minutes, while savaging ruthlessly the bad, and scoring more than half his team’s monumental total of 501.

His innings had turned a deficit for Eagles on the first innings into a virtually certain victory by the close of the third day.

Zhuwao’s innings was not, however, a new overall Logan Cup record, as Brian Davison scored 299 for Midlands against Matabeleland in 1974/75 before the tournament acquired first-class status in 1993/94.

After his innings, he put his success down mainly to the time he spent playing for Lashings Cricket Club in England earlier this year, where he opened the batting with such former Test players as Wasim Jaffer of India and Kirk Edwards of West Indies, and learned a lot from them about the art of building an innings.

Overnight, Eagles were 307 for three wickets in their second innings, an overall lead of 254 runs, with Zhuwao on 167 and Tino Mutombodzi 15.

The policy at first was accumulation, even from Zhuwao, as each further hundred runs scored by the team in this innings would give them another point in the Logan Cup table.

It took fifty minutes for Zhuwao at last really to open his shoulders and hit a ball from Tendai Chisoro over long-on for his first six of the day, which took his score to 190.

The drinks interval as so often brought a wicket, as Mutombodzi (39) drove a ball from Mike Chinouya into the covers to be caught; 358 for four.

Zhuwao until then had shown remarkable restraint for such a batsman as he, but on 191 he finally decided he had waited long enough and hammered Chisoro for three fours off five balls to reach the rare landmark of 200.

It took him 242 balls and contained 20 fours and 10 sixes.

Elton Chigumbura was now in with him and, taking his cue from Zhuwao, played himself in and then began to unleash some confident strokes.

The 400 came up, and then Rhinos rather belatedly took the second new ball, after 85 overs.

Chigumbura did not make good use of his spark of form, though, as just before lunch he skyed a catch to long-off off the bowling of Chisoro for 26; 417 for five.

The score had moved to 422 by lunch, with Zhuwao now on 224 and Nathan Waller just in.

After lunch Waller was quickly out for four, bowled by a ball from Chisoro that shot through fast and low; 423 for six.

At 228 Zhuwao slashed a ball from Chisoro just over the slips for four, but on the whole he was batting cautiously again, perhaps with his eye on the Logan Cup record individual score, 247 by Guy Whittall for Manicaland against Mashonaland at Mutare in 2001/02.

At 243 he hoisted a ball from Chisoro high over the midwicket boundary to set a new Logan Cup record, and a single from the next ball took him to 250, only the fourth Zimbabwean batsman ever to reach such a score in first-class cricket.

At 489 Trevor Garwe (27) was caught on the midwicket off Tendai Maruma, with Zhuwao on 255.

The batsmen having changed ends, Zhuwao hit the next ball where Garwe had failed, into the stands.

Tapiwa Mufudza was caught at the wicket without scoring off Chisoro, now in his 47th over, and then finally came the wicket of Zhuwao for 265.

He aimed another big hit to leg off Maruma, but only skyed the ball out on the off side, where an awkward catch was held by the wicketkeeper, Nyasha Mayavo.

Zhuwao hit 25 fours and 12 sixes in his monumental innings of 318 balls, as notable for his self-discipline and wise shot selection as it was for powerful strokes.

The total was 499, and a two off the next ball by Tafadzwa Muzarawetu brought up the 500 and another bonus point for Eagles.

The last man, Taurai Muzarabani, was out lbw first ball to Chisoro, and the innings finally came to a close for 501.

The only bowler with any success to speak of was Chisoro, whose six wickets cost him 192 runs, and he had to bowl 47.1 overs for them.

Rhinos, set the massive target of 449 to win, opened their innings with Bothwell Chapungu and Maruma against the bowling of Garwe and Muzarawetu.

By tea they had taken the score to 30 without loss and without alarms, Maruma having scored 13 of them and Chapungu 12.

Maruma in particular was in blazing form and hit 25 runs off the first 14 balls he faced.

He ran to his 50 off 34 balls, playing some fine strokes, although he also took some risks and missed with some great heaves at the ball.

Chapungu, usually the more aggressive batsman, this time scored only 22 off 68 balls before being trapped lbw by Mufudza, after an opening partnership of 86 in 18 overs.

Takudzwa Kaitano lasted only two balls before he was bowled by Muzarabani, and then Mufudza trapped Peter Moor lbw for four with a ball that shot through fast and low.

Maruma seemed to lose some of his energy after reaching his fifty, and his innings came to an end at 62, diddled out by Mutombodzi’s first ball of the innings, which lobbed up apparently off his glove for a catch to the keeper.

He made 62 off 51 balls, with nine fours and a six, and Rhinos were now 103 for four.

Prince Masvaure looked to be batting soundly and it came as a surprise when a ball from Mutombodzi broke through his forward defence and bowled him for 10; 110 for five.

Mayavo joined Simba Gupo at the wicket and from the start played some positive aggressive strokes, although the pressure was really off him now as defeat was virtually inevitable.

The pair survived to the end of the day when the score was 160 for five wickets, with Gupo on 10 and Mayavo 41 off 38 balls.