Good bowling by Tendai Chatara and Natsai Mushangwe took Mountaineers home to an expected comfortable victory over Southern Rocks before lunch on the final day at Masvingo Sports Club, by an innings and two runs. After a fine partnership by their overnight pair, the home batting collapsed in disappointing fashion, despite the benign pitch.
Southern Rocks resumed on the final morning at 184 for three wickets, still needing 92 runs to avoid the innings defeat. The odds of doing so looked to be in their favour, with Stuart Matsikenyeri and Steve Tikolo both well set and past their fifties, but few of the later batsmen showed much fight and Southern Rocks did not attain even this objective.
The partnership continued very comfortably for another 32 runs, with both batsmen hitting the ball well. But the crucial moment came when Tikolo edged a drive at a ball from Mushangwe to second slip and departed for a fine innings of 69 off 135 balls. The partnership had added 149 runs, but still left Southern Rocks 60 runs behind. Only two runs later Matsikenyeri, who well deserved a century after his long run of poor form, drove a ball into the covers, where it was misfielded. He started for the run and then hesitated, while his partner Sikander Raza kept running. Then he gave up and allowed the fielder to run thirty yards to remove the bails at the bowler’s end, a disappointing end to a fine innings of 88. He faced 160 balls and hit 12 fours and a six.
With the score still at 218, Alester Maregwede edged a catch to the keeper off Mushangwe. Raza only played a couple of the brilliant attacking strokes for which he is becoming famous, and then tried to drive Mushangwe down the pitch; he was both caught and stumped by the keeper, but the catch took precedence. Four good wickets had fallen for 15 runs, and it appeared that Southern Rocks were sinking without a fight.
Blessing Mahwire was not about to give it away, though, and he found support for a while from Brian Vitori, until the latter (9) shouldered arms to Chatara, now armed with the new ball, and had his off stump knocked out. The pair had added 29. Mike Chinouya was quickly bowled, unable to repeat his first-innings resistance, and nine were down for 256, still 20 runs short of saving the innings defeat. Any batsman who follows Chinouya to the crease must have very little batting ability, but Keith Kulinga did stick around long enough for 18 of the runs to be gathered before edging a ball from Chatara to slip and bringing the match to an end. Mahwire was unbeaten with a gallant 34.
Chatara finished with the best figures of four for 55, while Mushangwe had three for 59. Both bowled with good line and length, leaving the pitch to do the work and the batsmen to make the mistakes. Overall, the loss of top players to the Bangladesh tour proved more serious for Southern Rocks than their opponents, as they have much less strength in depth. However, at times some of their players needed to show more fighting spirit. It was a fine victory for Mountaineers, who increase their lead at the head of the Logan Cup table; it was marred to some extent, though, by dishonest appealing. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 497/6d (136 overs; Beukes 106, Vermeulen 103, Kulinga 2/121), Rocks 221 (66.5 overs; Tikolo 53, Chatara 4/65) & 274 (f/o; 90.4 overs; Matsikenyeri 88, Chatara 3/55). Mountaineers win by an innings and 2 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Eagles' woeful form continued as Tuskers thumped them by an innings and 124 runs inside 3 days, sending Tuskers to a clear lead in the Logan Cup table. Batting first after having been put in by Eagles, Tuskers posted an impressive 478 in their only innings with tons from Seand Williams (127) and Keith Dabengwa (114) leading the way. Douglas Hondo took 4/75 for Eagles. In reply, though, Eagles were skittled for a palty 76, with only Andrew Hall (33) and Ryan Butterworth (10) reaching double figures. Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing wasted no time in enforcing the follow-on, and while Eagles managed a better score in the second innings they still ended a long way short of making Tuskers bat again - the side were bowled out second time around for 278, with Greg Lamb's 101 being the highlight of an otherwise forgettable game for Eagles. Keegan Meth led the bowling figures for Tuskers in both innings, taking a combined 8/63 to reinforce his claims for a long overdue national callup. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 478 (126.5 overs; Williams 127, Hondo 4/75), Eagles 76 (34 overs; Hall 33, Meth 4/24) & 278 (88 overs; Lamb 101, Meth 4/39). Matabeland Tuskers win by an innings and 124 runs.
For a large chunk of this match it looked as though Rhinos had done enough to secure a win, but they and Eagles saw out a draw in their Logan Cup fixture in Kwekwe. The match was dominated by a few key performances on both sides - Rememberance Nyathi's 118 anchored Rhinos' first innings score of 351, while Andrew Hall's unbeaten 101 was the backbone of for Eagles' first knock. Eagles declared their first innings with just a three-run lead, giving Rhinos the chance to put the game beyond their reach - and Gary Balance (132), Friday Kasteni (56) and Vusi Sibanda (57) gave them a good chance of doing that. Rhinos made a sporting declaration at lunch on the final day, though, setting Eagles a target of 292 to chase for victory, within reach if they pushed themselves, and Forster Mutizwa's 84 off 92 balls set them up to do that. Mutizwa's departure saw Eagles lose steam, though, and the match was eventually called off as a draw late in the afternoon. The result leaves both sides on just 2 points each, far adrift of leader Mountaineers who are on 13. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 351 (108.2 overs; Nyathi 118, Garwe 3/75) & 294/4d (74 overs; Balance 132, Mutombodzi 3/137), Eagles 354/8d (112.5 overs; Hall 101*, Sibanda 2/22) & 187/5 (52 overs; Mutizwa 84, Muzarabani 3/33). Match drawn.
Southern Rocks battled their way to a well-earned draw in their Logan Cup match against MidWest Rhinos, saving the match after a Rhinos first-innings that should have all but secured their victory. Batting first after losing the toss, Rhinos spent the best part of two days batting their way to a massive 609/7 before declaring, with three players batting their way past the hundred mark - Brendan Taylor, top-scoring on 185; Vusi Sibanda with 128, and Malcolm Waller with 116. Rocks' bowling simply had no answer for the Rhinos, although Steve Tikolo's 3/82 at least helped limit the damage.
Rocks didn't help themselves in their first innings, either. Tatenda Taibu's 67 and supporting knock of 51 by Sikandar Raza provided the backbone of the innings, but there was precious little support elsewhere as they were bowled out for 287. Graeme Cremer continued his recent good form, taking 5/101. Rhinos enforced the follow-on and left Rocks needing to bat out 4 sessions to save the match, and at the time it would have been a brave man to bet on them managing to do so - but, led by #1 batsman Steve Marillier, who carried his bat until close of play, Rocks managed to upset the odds and deny Rhinos their victory. Marillier score 148 not-out, with Craig Ervine finally finding some form to add 46 of his own as Rock took the slow and steady approach, eschewing risks in the name of keeping their chances alive. And it worked. Ian Nicolson took 3/33 for Rhinos, but the Rhinos attack couldn't find enough holes in the Rocks batsmens' defences before time ran out. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 609/7 decl (147.5 overs; Taylor 185, Tikolo 3/82), Rocks 287 (85.5 overs; Taibu 67, Cremer 5/101) & 282/5 (f/o, 119 overs; Marillier 148*, Nicolson 3/33). Match drawn.
A rollicking partnership of 102 for the second wicket between Prince Masvaure (51) and Peter Moor (53) set Mashonaland Eagles on course to score 220 for victory over Mountaineers. For 69 minutes the two dominated the attack, but after both fell in quick succession, the Eagles had nobody else to carry on the assault, and faded away to defeat by 14 runs in an exciting three-day finish. Mountaineers well deserved their victory, although this was spoilt by some excessive appealing.
The two previous mornings' play both started with quick wickets, followed by a recovery, and the third continued the trend. Timycen Maruma, the overnight batsman, was soon caught in the slips for 27, and the
night-watchman Silent Mujaji and Benjamin Katsande soon followed. At 95/6, Mountaineers were looking at trouble, but then there stepped in the heroes of the Faithwear Metbank final last year, Prosper Utseya and
Shingirai Masakadza. Utseya in particular counter-attacked well, and their partnership of 49 was worth far more on this particular pitch than it would under normal circumstances.
After Masakadza fell for 18, Natsai Mushangwe gave Utseya good support, hitting the bad ball well and making 16 not out. Utseya was finally dismissed for 38 off 53 balls, an invaluable innings that should have earned
his team the victory, as any target of over 200 would be very difficult to chase on this pitch. The innings closed on the stroke of lunch for 178, leaving Eagles 220 to chase. All six wickets to fall during the
morning were caught either by the wicket-keeper or slips, four of them to Innocent Chinyoka, who bowled a brisk medium-pace just outside the off stump, cutting the ball predominantly away from the right-hander, and the pitch and poor batting techniques did the rest.
There was much tension on the field as Eagles began their innings, which was increased when the umpire disagreed with the Mountaineers' belief that they had Ishmael Senzere caught at slip off the very first ball. The batsmen still failed to score, though, very well run out by Shingirai Masakadza as he called for a quick but reasonable single to midwicket, only to be sent back by his partner. Then came a key wicket, as Forster Mutizwa was superbly caught by the same fielder at extra cover for 4. Eagles were 17/2, in spite of the bowlers being perhaps a little over-excited and tending to bowl too short.
Then came what might have been the turning point of the match. Peter Moor had not scored when he got a leading edge and lobbed a high but simple return catch to the bowler Tendai Chatara, who somehow seemed to lose sight of it and failed to get a hand to it. After this Moor and Prince Masvaure decided to go for their strokes, perhaps a wise gamble on an untrustworthy pitch. They took some risks, but Moor raced ahead with some powerful, uppish but safely falling hooks as the bowlers tried to bounce him, and also drove a straight six. It was heady stuff and quite unpredictable but, all things considered; he did the right job for his team by carrying the attack to the opposition. He still has technical flaws, but to score 53, as he did, off only 35 balls, with four sixes and four fours, shows the raw material is of high quality. He and Masvaure shared the only century stand of the match, the latter soon following Moor back to the pavilion with 51 off 73 balls to his credit.
With Eagles now 119/4, the match was again in the balance. Cephas Zhuwao did what he does best, and swung two sixes in an over from Prosper Utseya over the midwicket boundary to make the tea score 135/4. However, Zhuwao did not last long after the interval, skying a catch to deep midwicket for 18. After this, the batsmen fell back on the defensive, probably a mistaken tactic considering that earlier success had
come through attack. Regis Chakabva made 21 without showing his usual sparkle, and the bowlers worked their way through the lower order. The ninth wicket fell at 199; the last pair needed 21 but managed only 6, made
by painful method, before Mbofana was adjudged LBW to Shingirai Masakadza and the match was over. Masakadza and Maruma took three wickets each. It was a closely fought match with an exciting finish, but that did not really justify the poor pitch.
Full scorecard below the cut. Match report courtesy ZC.
Mountaineers 249 (82.2 overs; H Masakadza 90, Garwe 4/35) & 178 (47 overs; H Masakadza 41, Chinyoka 6/44), Eagles 208 (69 overs; Masvaure 67, Chatara 4/64) & 205 (49.4 overs; Moor 53, Maruma 3/§3). Mountaineers win by 14 runs.
Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles shared the points in a tame draw in first of the opening round of Logan Cup matches, played in Masvingo. Rocks have strengthened their side in the off-season, and their new signings came up trumps for them against a side that had dominated them last season. Batting first after being put into bat by Eagles, Rocks posted a competitive 325, with Chamu Chibhabha leading the way with 85 while fellow opened Steve Marillier contributed 55. Useful contributions from Tendai Chisoro (34) and Hilary Matanga (36*) in the lower order also boosted the home side's total, while Tino Mutombodzi confirmed his status as "one to watch" by taking 5/97 for Eagles.
Eagles' first innings was dominated by another up-and-coming player, Forster Mutizwa, who claimed the second century of the season by scoring 114 (Charles Coventry claiming the first ton of the season in the other match of the round). Regis Chakabva's 53 and Cephas Zhuwawo's 45 ensured that Eagles kept pace with Rocs, although scores elsewhere in the Eagles lineup maybe weren't so useful. The Harare side declared on 331/9, a slender lead of just 6 runs.
The Rocks openers then ensured that a draw was the only possible outcome, as Marillier (98), Tendai Chitongo (69) and new signing Tatenda Taibu (153*) stamped their authority on the match, with captain Steve Tikolo's 92 essentially drawing a line under the match. Rocks declared when Tikolo's wicket fell, on 449/5, but that left Eagles with just 5 overs to bat to see out the rest of the match & record the draw.
The verdict, then, is that Rocks have certainly bolstered their batting, but are still perhaps lacking in the bowling department. It also has to be said the Eagles' side for this match had a distinctly second-strng look to it, with some players including captain Elton Chigumbura still on county duty in England. Rocks will still be please, though, with a performance that has shown them to be a far stronger side that last season's. Scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 325 (101.2 overs; Chibhabha 85, Mutombodzi 5/97) & 449/5 decl (115.4 overs; Taibu 153*, Mutombodzi 2/111), Eagles 331/9 decl (121 overs; Mutizwa 114, CHinouya 3/78) & 26/0 (4.5 overs; Masvaure 25*, Chisoro 0/6). Match Drawn.
After looking like a dull draw on the third and fourth day of this five-day final, the Logan Cup final unexpectedly sprang to life on the final day, as Midwest Rhinos came close to pulling off what would have been an incredible victory.
The miracle did not quite happen, but the day belonged to the underdogs from start to finish. Firstly superb batting by Rikki Wessels and Graeme Cremer enabled them to declare their second innings closed, and then, due to good bowling and fielding and some very poor batting by the Mashonaland Eagles top order, they broke through and had the newly crowned champions struggling to save the match to the very end. In the end only the fighting spirit and skill of Forster Mutizwa and Mark Mbofana saw them through to safety at 67 for six wickets - and the Logan Cup trophy.
Overnight Mid West were 174 for five; they had not looked like making a bid for victory on the previous day and now they were in real danger of defeat, without much batting left. But Wessels was still there, and was joined by Cremer. Wessels was nearly caught off an aerial cut early on, the ball just evading the fielder, but perhaps he too was afraid of his team subsiding, as he batted more positively this morning and went to his fifty off 114 balls. Cremer was at first concerned solely with defence, and it took him a full hour and a half to reach double figures, which came with a pull for four off Douglas Hondo; he celebrated with a straight drive for another boundary next ball. The pair added 92 during the morning session, and no wicket fell.
The pair continued in good style after lunch, with Wessels reverse-sweeping Raymond Price for three off the second ball after lunch. Cremer reached his fifty off 118 balls, and this was closely followed by Wessels' century off 176; he celebrated with a straight six off Greg Lamb. Shortly afterwards, knowing a declaration was imminent, Cremer gave his wicket away, stumped off Price, for 56, and the players left the field. The total was 335 for six wickets declared, and the pair had added an invaluable 161. Wessels was unbeaten with 108 and Price finished with one wicket for 43 off 33.3 overs, 17 of them maidens.
Perhaps the problem with Mashonaland was that they didn't actually need to win this match to secure the Logan Cup, having topped the log, and so their policy was one of "We'll see how it goes before trying for victory." They needed 249 to win off a minimum of 44 overs, and they wanted to take no risk of losing the match. Perhaps this double-mindedness distracted them. Once again their opening partnership failed, both openers falling for 7 with the total at 18, and both caught at second slip, Prince Masvaure off Taurai Muzarabani and Ishmael Senzere off Cremer. Moments later Ryan Butterworth (1) mistimed a pull to midwicket, Mid West suddenly glimpsed victory, and tea was taken at 21 for three.
One would have expected the powerful, experienced Mashonaland side to take the situation calmly, play soundly and make sure of the draw on a good pitch, especially with the presence at the crease of their captain Elton Chigumbura, whose calm mature batting had always saved the situation for his side earlier in the season when the match was in the balance. Chigumbura got off the mark with a pull for six of Muzarabani, and then went for a big hit off Cremer, only to sky the ball to mid-off and depart for 10. When Regis Chakabva was lbw to the googly later in the same over, Mashonaland were 36 for five in the thirteenth over and the alarm bells were really ringing now.
Still in was Forster Mutizwa, though not looking very secure, and Greg Lamb, with a groin injury, had yet to bat. If there was to be a result, only Midwest could win now. Could Mashonaland survive their unexpected crisis? Ed Rainsford replaced Muzarabani, but he could not repeat his magic of the previous day, perhaps trying to bowl too fast and pitching too short. Still, Mutizwa nearly pulled a catch to mid-on, but then the batsmen settled in and looked increasingly solid, although still having the occasional close call. Surprisingly, Mid West accepted a draw with six overs still to be bowled; having done so much in one day, they did not pursue it right to the end. Cremer finished with three for 20 off 17 overs. Mutizwa faced 102 balls for his 18, Mbofana 84 for his 8 runs, and both were undefeated, having spent 99 precious minutes together. At the last ditch, they saved the Logan Cup for Mashonaland. Photos and full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 364 (118.2 overs; Taylor 131, Masvaure 3/49) & 335/6 decl (112.3 overs; Wessels 108*, Butterworth 2/26), Eagles 451 (168.1 overs; Lamb 159, Rainsford 6/66) & 67/5 (40 overs; Mutizwa 18*, Cremer 3/20). Match drawn.
[Source: ZC. All photographs in this article ©ZC.]
...which was probably predictable enough. With nothing left to play for but pride, Rocks and Tuskers settled on sharing what pride was on offer in their final Logan Cup match of the season. Rocks arguably got the better of the matchup, with a first-innings 431 that included centuries from Craig Ervine (108) and Richmond Mutumbami (100), and a cautious 82 from Erick Chauluka, an innings that gave them a 171-run over their Bulawayo rivals, who had been bowled out for 260 thanks to good work by Tendai Chitongo (4/53) and Blessing Mahwire (3/41). Tuskers did make something of a comeback in their second innings, though, with their 397 enough to make sure that Rocks were fighting more against the clock in their second knock than against Tuskers' bowlers. Greg Strydom made an impressive contribution, knocking 89 off just 55 balls (clearly trying to stake a late claim to a place in the WorldT20 squad). Rocks nearly threw it away, though - facing a target of 227 to win from 41 overs on the last day, they collapsed alarmingly, losing 8 wickets before the end of play (with in-form Keith Dabengwa taking 4/33) and just holding out to secure the draw. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 260 (72.4 overs; Dabengwa 63, Chitongo 4/53) & 397 (96.5 overs; Strydom 89, Odoyo 3/39),
Rocks 431 (141 overs; C Ervine 108, Dabengwa 3/89) & 136/8 (41 overs; Tikolo 42, Dabengwa 4/33). Match drawn.
The Logan Cup season finished in bitter disappointment for Mountaineers, who had anticipated a place in the final, only to be pipped at the post by Midwest Rhinos, who beat them by eight wickets in three days at Mutare Sports Club. Struggling after two days, Mountaineers had no great heroics in their second innings and, despite early jitters, Rhinos got home mainly on the back of a devastating innings of 62 not out from Brendan Taylor.
Mountaineers resumed their second innings on 62 for three wickets, still 64 runs behind the Rhinos innings total. Things entered badly from the start, as Stuart Matsikenyeri (17) was dismissed lbw to Ed Rainsford without any addition to the score. Hamilton Masakadza took his responsibilities so seriously that he took 49 balls and 65 minutes to get off the mark, before he finally forced a ball through the covers for four. Soon after that he lost Timycen Maruma, who played on to Rainsford, playing back, for 4; Mountaineers were now 75 for five and looked to be tumbling headlong towards an early defeat.
They should have been worse off still, as Prosper Utseya was dropped off a sharp chance to second slip before he had scored, the ball travelling for four. Rhinos paid quite heavily for this error, as the pair almost doubled the total while in partnership, putting on 62 runs together. The deficit was erased just before lunch, so Mountaineers went in for the break just six runs ahead and with a little more hope of making a fight of it.
The afternoon session all but extinguished their hopes. Neither batsman lasted long after lunch. Utseya was the first to go, caught in the gully off Rainsford for 32, but the celebrations really took off with the fall of Masakadza. He had batted with the utmost restraint for 37 off 135 balls in just over three hours, but he fell another victim to Rainsford, pushing at a ball moving away outside off stump to give the wicketkeeper a straight-forward catch. Mountaineers had slumped to 144/7 and defeat seemed imminent.
But now was the time for real defiance. Shingi Masakadza and Natsai Mushangwe laid into the bowling with a vengeance, sharing the highest partnership of the innings as they hammered 73 together. Again, catches went down, until Masakadza finally sliced a low catch to third man to depart for 27. Mushangwe, the leading partner, raced to 53 off 49 balls, but was then adjudged lbw next ball; Taurai Muzarabani dismissed them both. The last wicket fell for 230, leaving Rhinos with 105 runs to win. Rainsford was the best bowler, taking four vital wickets for 46 and showing great determination and skill.
Rhinos have shown some fragile batting this season, so the target was not a foregone conclusion; the pitch was taking a bit of spin, and no respectable side should have been bowled out chasing that target unless they choked. Mountaineers went on the attack from the start, using Utseya as their second bowler with close fielders, and the openers seemed rendered strokeless. Bothwell Chapungu, nonplussed by a spinner from Utseya, was clean bowled for 2, but Brendan Taylor was taking no nonsense. He swung successive balls from Utseya over the pavilion for six, and continued to assault the spinner, despite losing Friday Kasteni, lbw padding up to Shingi Masakadza for 4.
Vusi Sibanda was almost a sleeping partner as Taylor laid into the bowlers, racing to his fifty off 34 balls. His off-side drives and leg-side flicks and pulls were particularly impressive. It was an off-driven four by Sibanda, followed by four byes from a wild delivery down the leg side, that finally took Rhinos to a well-earned victory and a place in next week's Logan Cup final against Mashonaland Eagles. Taylor finished unbeaten on 62 (42 balls) and Sibanda 23.
Mountaineers 212 (56.3 overs; Maruma 59, Rainsford 3/41) & 230 (69.3 overs; Mushangwe 53, Rainsford 4/46), Rhinos 338 (104.2 overs; Waller 117, Chitara 5/42) & 106/2 (17.4 overs; Taylor 62*, Utseya 1/28). Rhinos win by 8 wickets.
Midwest Rhinos battled out a draw with Sean Ervine.. er, Southern Rocks to keep their chances of a place in the Logan Cup final alive - just. It was a match that was dominated by a few key players, most notably returning 'rebel' Sean Ervine, who scored a career-best 208 & 160 with the bat, going on to take 3 wickets in the match. Rhinos won the toss and opted to bat, and put on a disappointing 267 before being bowled out, with Malcolm Waller's 124 being the one performance to impress. Blessing Mahwire took 3/26 for Rocks. In reply, Rocks got off to a very shaky start, being 4/13 at one point, before the Ervine brothers joined forces at the crease to add 178 for the fifth wicket. Craig was eventually out for 81, while Sean went on to 208. With the best score beyond the brothers being a paltry 26 from Tendai Chisoro, it really was Ervines versus Rhinos.
Facing an unexpected first-innings deficit, it was Rhinos' turn to step up to the plate, and with a little help from Brendan Taylor, who one-upped Sean Ervine by scoring 217, they did. Innocent Chikunya chipped in with 75, with Graeme Cremer reaching 53 not-out before the side declared on 443/5. That left Rocks chasing 337 to win, a target that the side threw themselves into in much the style of a Twenty20 match. While the third-wicket partnership of Steve Marillier and Sean Ervine was at the crease, there even seemed to be a chance for an unlikely Rocks win, but Marillier's removal with the score on 152 was the beginning of a procession of wickets, and also saw the run-chase drop well below the required rate. Ervine finally went for 160, and the match drew to a close 2 overs later with Rocks still 59 runs short.
That leaves Mountaineers in the driving seat for the remaining spot on the final, with Rhinos needing to beat them next week, and out-score them on bonus points, to claim the place. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 267 (77.5 overs; Waller 124, Mahwire 3/26) & 443/5 decl (94 overs; Taylor 217, S Ervine 2/63), Rocks 374 (105 overs; S Ervine 208, Cremer 5/125) & 278/8 (82 overs; S Ervine 160, Muzhange 3/58). Match Drawn.