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Mupamba Stabilises Mountaineers With Historic Century On Debut

Ngoni Mupamba, a 28-year-old batsman born in Chitungwiza, created a piece of history for himself by achieving the rare feat of scoring a century on his first-class début, playing for Manicaland Mountaineers on the first day of their Logan Cup match against Rising Stars at Takashinga Sports Club on Sunday.

He is only the eighth Zimbabwean batsman to achieve such a feat, the last to do so being Tafadzwa Ngulube for Westerns against Centrals in 2008/09.

He also went on to outscore all the previous seven, the highest score by a debutant before then being 138 by Peter Allan in 1978/79; Mupamba finished the day unbeaten with 147 to his credit.

Mupamba has spent some time in New Zealand, which partly explains why he has not played for a Zimbabwean province before, but he recently returned and was quickly and wisely picked up for his team by the Mountaineers coach Shepard Makunura.

He did not have an easy time of it, as his team had been reduced to 120 for five at one stage before he was joined at the wicket by Donald Tiripano, and the pair turned the match around with a superb partnership of 224, still unbroken.

This in itself sets a new record sixth-wicket partnership for Zimbabwean first-class cricket, beating the 207 by Foster Mutizwa and Steve Nyamuzinga for Easterns versus Westerns at Country Club in 2008/09.

On a warm sunny morning, Manicaland Mountaineers won the toss and decided to bat on a flat-looking pitch without much grass, suspecting that it might crumble later in the match.

Mountaineers opened their batting with Tino Mawoyo and Innocent Kaia against the bowling of Richard Ngarava and Faraz Akram.

Kaia had a narrow escape in the opening over when a rising ball from Ngarava hit him on the glove and bounced just over the slips.

Mawoyo was first to go, though, facing 15 balls without scoring before he edged a ball from Akram low to the keeper; six for one.

Fine sportsman that he is, he checked with Tafadzwa Tsiga that he had held the catch cleanly, and then walked without waiting for the umpire’s decision.

Kaia soon settled in well, scoring 19 of the first 20 runs, the other being a leg-bye.

However, at that score, he pulled a short ball from Ngarava rather carelessly and was superbly caught at square leg by Akram, who leapt high in the air to take the ball.

Runs now almost dried up, until Kevin Kasuza was lbw to a full-length ball from Ngarava for two, scored off 20 balls, with the score 30 for three.

Mupamba, making his first-class début, joined Tinashe Chimbambo, who was batting soundly but making few aggressive strokes.

At lunch, the score had reached 71 for three, with Chimbambo on 27 and Mupamba 17.

Honest Ziwira broke through for Stars soon after the interval, having Chimbambo caught in the slips for 34; 85 for four.

Mupamba continued to bat steadily, but Kudzai Sauramba, attempting a risky third run that would take his partner to fifty, was run out for five, making the score 120 for five wickets.

Mupamba kept his nerve and a few minutes later guided a ball from Ngarava to the boundary backward of point to reach an outstanding fifty off 93 balls.

He celebrated two balls later with a slash for six in the same area.

The partnership continued successfully until tea, when the score was 169 for five, with Mupamba on 77 and Tiripano 21.

The partnership flourished after tea, with Tiripano, in particular, taking the attack to the bowlers and reaching his fifty off 65 balls by pulling a short ball from Brandon Mavuta for six.

Mupamba at this stage was on 94, and he moved rather cautiously through the nineties before he was finally able to force a ball from Mavuta away square on the off side to reach his historic century; it came off 164 balls.

He now had the freedom to open his shoulders and attack the bowling without restraint, but the next landmark came from Tiripano, who reached his second career century off 111 balls.

The Stars bowlers, mostly inexperienced, were quite unable to contain this onslaught, and at the close of play, the score had reached 344 for five wickets, with Mupamba on 147 and Tiripano 121.

The pair will continue their stand on the second morning and it will be interesting to see how far they can take their scores.

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