Mountaineers looked like a team devoid of confidence as they slumped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Matabeleland Tuskers with scarcely a fight. Apart from Shingi Masakadza, who fought a lone battle, the team that had such a marvellous Logan Cup record last season were dismissed for 92 runs in their second innings, chasing only 199 to win. The Matabeleland Tuskers seam battery did a fine job, spearheaded by Chris Mpofu, who took four for 40, taking his total for the match to nine. Keegan Meth, back to his economical best, took three for 19 in 14 overs.
Going into the final day, Mountaineers were 40 for four wickets, and their two international batsmen, Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza, were among those dismissed, so their chances of victory on a difficult pitch looked slim. From the start they played like a team without hope, scarcely offering an attacking stroke against the determined pace bowling of Tuskers. Timycen Maruma, the captain, was particularly disappointing, as he is so often a fighter in such circumstances, but on this occasion he had little to offer. After almost an hour at the crease for just 10 runs, he unwisely shouldered arms to a ball from Chris Mpofu that came back and bowled him.
Ten runs came in the first hour and the procession continued. The night-watchman Silent Mujaji did the best he could, until he was stumped for 5 off 69 balls in 94 minutes. But it was the responsibility of his more capable partners to take the initiative, and with the exception of Shingi Masakadza they failed badly. Shingi, always a fighter when the situation is difficult, played a positive and determined innings of 29 off 45 balls, before a ball from Mpofu had him fending a catch to mid-on. Otherwise the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had things all their own way, as the other home batsmen could offer nothing more than timid defence.
It would appear that their unexpected defeats in last year’s three domestic competitions, for which they were favourites, and especially the Logan Cup final to this Matabeleland Tuskers team, has shattered the confidence of the Mountaineers players. Their coach Gary Brent strongly praised their wonderful attitude throughout pre-season practice, but if the vital ingredient of confidence is missing, this will all be in vain. Mountaineers have the skills and dedication to succeed, even to win the Logan Cup, but before that can happen, they need to repair their wounded spirits. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 306 (85.4 overs; Ewing 102, Mushangwe 5/112) & 186 (66.1 overs; Meth 41*, S Masakadza 4/49), Mountaineers 294 (91.1 overs; H Masakadza 75, Mpofu 5/55) & 92 (48.2 overs; S Masakadza 29, Mpofu 4/40). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 106 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
A fine all-round performance by Matabeleland Tuskers, and in particular their all-rounder Keegan Meth, gave them a convincing victory over Mountaineers on the latter’s home ground in Mutare. The cricket committee’s decision to make Saturdays the match days in the 50-over competition was otherwise an instant success in Mutare, attracting an enthusiastic family crowd and a festival atmosphere.
Meth courageously returned to the Matabeleland Tuskers side only a month after his horrific facial injury against Bangladesh, and he was to play a vital role in this match with bat and ball, as he had on his last visit to this ground, in the Logan Cup final last April. Mountaineers were without Hamilton Masakadza, nursing a strain. Under cloudy skies Mountaineers won the toss and eagerly put Matabeleland Tuskers in to bat, as the pitch had cracks in it and was expected to help the bowlers considerably. There was some movement early on, but overall much less than the home side anticipated. After one ball had been bowled in the Tuskers’ innings play was suspended for almost 20 minutes as the black covering on the sightscreen was found to be inadequate and had to be fixed.
When play did resume, the batsmen struggled for a while against fine bowling from the occasional internationals Tendai Chatara and Shingi Masakadza. When Gavin Ewing was out lbw to Masakadza for 11, the score was 19 for one in the eighth over, after which Paul Horton struggled to 2 off 21 balls when he was dismissed. Terry Duffin made 21, but the middle order came through well. Craig Ervine made a more fluent 47 as the ball lost its shine, before giving his wicket away just short of his 50.
After the 37th over, though, the score was only 132 for five and Matabeleland Tuskers were struggling. From this point Keith Dabengwa and Meth transformed the innings. Dabengwa had begun cautiously, but soon opened up and batted superbly for his unbeaten 82, with six fours and three sixes. Meth joined in the assault, with 43 off 37 balls, and the pair added 108 in 13 overs, doing particularly well against the spinners. Matabeleland Tuskers finished with a score of 240 for five, far better than had looked likely for most of their innings. Masakadza was the best bowler, deserving better than his two for 38 off 11 overs.
Mountaineers never looked like challenging their target. Chris Mpofu and Meth bowled perhaps even better than their Mountaineer counterparts had done, but against feebler opposition. Bernard Mlambo pulled a ball from Mpofu magnificently for four, but he was all at sea against Meth, eventually edging him to second slip to depart for 8. Mountaineers suffered a serious blow when Tino Mawoyo also fell for 8, lbw to Mpofu, and the slide was on. Five wickets were down for 32 in the 13th over and there could be no coming back from here.
The acting captain, Timycen Maruma, fought defiantly for a while, cracking three powerful boundaries, but then he groped at a ball from Meth well outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper, departing for 17. Matabeleland Tuskers bowled Meth out, his 12 overs – the new limit now allowed in the 50-over game – going for 41 runs for four wickets. Shingi Masakadza pulled a short ball from Dabengwa for six to become only the second batsman in the side to reach double figures, and was followed by Donald Tiripano (15), the pair adding 35 together in a face-saving partnership. The final total was 109, Masakadza last man out for 28. Mpofu finished off the innings, finishing with four wickets for 20 runs. Cricketwise, the day was a disaster for Mountaineers; as a public relations exercise for the people of Mutare, it was a festive and well-run occasion. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 240/5 (50 overs; Dabengwa 82*, S Masakadza 2/38), Mountaineers 109 (33.3 overs; S Masakadza 28, Mpofu 4/20, Meth 4/41). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 131 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Matabeleland Tuskers are the new Logan Cup champions. Depleted, without five of their key players, they beat the previously undefeated Mountaineers by 18 runs, a remarkable achievement. The key factor was their swing bowler Keegan Meth, who has been steadily improving throughout the season and now seems to have instilled fear into the hearts of opposing batsmen with his deceptive swerve and accuracy. In this match he took 13 wickets at a cost of only 108 runs, besides playing a second innings of 65 runs, and if ever one man won a match for this team, this was the occasion.
It was clear at the start of the day that the result of the match would most likely hinge on the result of the battle between Hamilton Masakadza and Meth – and Meth won handsomely. Masakadza off-drove a single off Keith Dabengwa in the second over of the day to take the home side’s total to 100, which brought him to face Meth in the next over. He pushed fatally outside the off stump, edged a catch to the wicketkeeper and departed for 14, to scenes of jubilation from the fielders. As it turned out, this was the point where they won the match. Again, though, they were excessively noisy in the field, especially early on.
It was now the responsibility of the rest of the Mountaineers team to stand up and show they were not totally reliant on Masakadza in a tight situation – and this for the most part they dismally failed to do. The experienced South African Jon Beukes was one batsman who might have stood in the gap for Mountaineers, as he ran to 16 confident runs off 14 balls, with three fours, but he was then given out lbw on the front foot to Meth, and now the middle order surrendered meekly. Donald Tiripano, the night-watchman, had held an end up grimly for almost an hour, but edged a low catch to second slip off Meth to depart for 5 off 42 balls. Prosper Utseya, who has often been a man for a crisis in the past, was this time another lbw victim to Meth for a single, and Benjy Katsande lasted only three balls before edging to the keeper. Seven were now down for 125, the point of no return had been passed, and the last four wickets had fallen for seven runs in four overs.
Meth must have been tiring, but he kept bowling. At last Timycen Maruma and Shingi Masakadza showed some defiance, keeping out Meth and starting to attack Dabengwa, who had been blocking up the other end. Dabengwa as captain now faced the dilemma of whether to continue with Meth or give him a break for a while, but just as decision time was imminent, Meth struck again. Shingi Masakadza had been trying to counter his movement and upset his length by going down the pitch to him, which brought the keeper up to the stumps; the batsman did it once too often and was stumped for 17; eight down for 155.
Maruma now decided to take advantage of the wearied bowler, now in his eleventh over, smiting him for two mighty leg-side sixes in succession. In the meantime Dabengwa gave way to Chris Mpofu, but Tendai Chatara gave Maruma unexpected support, with five well-selected boundary hits off the fast man. They survived until lunch, and then Tawanda Mupariwa replaced the exhausted Meth; he quickly produced a rising ball that Maruma, on 36, edged at an awkward throat height to the keeper, who dropped it. After two overs by Mupariwa, Dabengwa brought back Meth, but he no longer had the power to terrorize; the batsmen could now play him like any other bowler and kept the scoreboard ticking over comfortably. Mountaineers supporters began to entertain delusions of victory.
When Maruma reached an admirable fifty, only another 24 runs were needed to win. But, tragically, a mix-up between the batsmen led to his being run out for 51 and the fighting partnership of 69 was ended. Natsai Mushangwe tried to hit out, but was caught in the outfield off Mpofu and the Logan Cup went to Matabeleland Tuskers. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 195 (68.2 overs; Mabuza 54, Mushangwe 3/44) & 290 (103.3 overs; Meth 65, Utseya 2/37), Mountaineers 239 (67.2 overs; H Masakadza 119, Meth 6/40) & 228 (63 overs; Mlambo 68, Meth 7/69). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 18 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
The top two teams in the MetBank Pro40 Championship table, Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers, have both been knocked out in the semi-finals. Perhaps they were distracted by the prospect of the Logan Cup Final to be played between them both in Mutare, starting this coming Wednesday, but certainly both turned in very poor batting displays to be beaten by teams that finished below them on the log. Matabeleland Tuskers did even worse than Mountaineers the day before, being bowled out for a miserable 94 by Southern Rocks, with Brian Vitori taking five cheap wickets. The Masvingo-based team made light work of their target, losing only one wicket as they raced to victory before three o’clock.
Matabeleland Tuskers were to regret their decision to bat first on a pitch that was slow but otherwise sound. The fault, though, was not with the decision but with those who should have taken advantage of it. They never looked like making a big score right from the start. The left-arm seamer Vitori bowled a fine spell from the pavilion end, but he did not have too much opposition. He dismissed both the newcomer Brian Chari and the experienced Keith Dabengwa in his second over, and in his fourth the captain Gavin Ewing, who had played a lone game in keeping the score ticking over, was furious to be given out caught at the wicket off an inside edge for 21. The team was seriously handicapped, though, by the loss of their two excellent English professionals, though, with Paul Horton and Adam Wheater required to return to their counties.
The score was now 34 for three, and worse was to come. Charles Coventry battled to 16 off 37 balls before he fished outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket off Mike Chinouya, returning to the side after injury, and the rest of the middle order caved in weakly in a series of soft dismissals. The third wicket fell for 56 in the 20th over. At last now, however, when it was too late, came some spirited resistance. Brad Staddon played with admirable composure and skill, helped by 10 from Tawanda Mupariwa, and the ninth wicket put on 27 runs, the best partnership of the innings. It took the return of Vitori to capture the last two wickets, although Staddon’s lbw for 25 was another rather controversial decision. The total was a dismal 94, and it would have been much worse without Staddon’s fighting spirit. Vitori finished with five wickets for only 26 runs, while Robertson Chinyengetere took three and Chinouya two. Almost nine overs of their allotted 40 went unused.
Southern Rocks, unaccustomed as they are to victory, had nothing to worry about as long as they did not become careless. Matabeleland Tuskers came out fighting, and determined to show that fact to the world by the constant barrage of noise they kept up in the field. They did make the batsmen fight for the runs. Sikandar Raza and Cham Chibhabha played some good straight drives over the bowler’s head in the powerplay overs before, at 29, Raza (14) miscued a pull to deep midwicket off Chris Mpofu, who was fast and aggressive.
Craig Ervine, just back from the World Cup, came in next to play a solid, capable innings, his most notable strokes being pulls off the short deliveries. Chibhabha played a sound innings, speeding up as he approached his fifty, but he was denied this landmark by Ervine, who drove a four and a six off successive balls to take Southern Rocks through to the final. Chibhabha finished with 45 and Ervine 36. Well as the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had performed, their batsmen had not left them nearly enough runs to play with. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 94 (31.1 overs; Staddon 25, Vitori 5/26), Rocks 97/1 (20.3 overs; Chibhabha 45*, Mpofu 1/23). Southern Rocks win by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
They may have lost the T20 title narrowly on Saturday, but Sunday saw Southern Rocks 'B' turn the tables on Tuskers to claim the one-day title by a convincing margin, leaving them holding 2 of the 3 'B' titles for the season. Tuskers won the toss and opted to bat, but were bowled out for 171 in the 46th over as Rocks' Tendai Chisoro took 5/31, ably supported by Keith Kulinga (2/43), to keep Tuskers in check. Stephen Trenchard's 25 was the best of the bunch for Tuskers.
Rocks had very little problems chasing the total, losing just 4 wickets along the way and claiming the title with over 11 overs to spare. Alester Maregwede again top-scored, as he did in the T20, with 37, while Thabo Mboyi took 4/24 for Tuskers in a losing cause. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 171 (45.4 overs; Trenchard 25, Chisoro 5/31), Rocks 172/4 (38/5 overs; Maregwede 37, Mboyi 4/24). Southern Rocks 'B' win by 6 wickets.
While our attention was distracted by the World Cup, this weekend was finals weekend for the T20 and one-day inter-provincial 'B' competitions. The Twenty20 was first up, on Saturday, with Matabeleland Tuskers and Southern Rocks facing off for the title, and with Rocks having already claimed the 'B' 4-day title they would have been hoping to continue their winning roll.
Tuskers won the toss and opted to field, giving Rocks the chance to set the running - they tallied up 122/5 from their alotted overs, with Alester Maregwede (29) leading the scoring. Two wickets came by run-out, while Tochukwu Enwerem had the best figures for Tuskers with 1/20.
Tuskers only just managed to chase that down, though - Mark Mabuza's 25 was the best of their innings, as they crossed the line with just one ball to spare to claim a 2-wicket win, having almost self-destructed with some terrible running of their own - the last 4 wickets of their over "fell" to run-outs. Roy Kaia took 1/14 for Rocks to lead their figures. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 122/5 (20 overs; Maregwede 29, Enwerem 1/20), Tuskers 124/8 (19.5 overs; Mabuza 25, Kaia 1/14). Matabeleland Tuskers 'B' win by 2 wickets.
Matabeleland Tuskers ensured their place in the Logan Cup final with a comprehensive win over Midwest Rhino in the second of this week's Logan Cup matches. With some impressive batting performances powering them on, Tuskers posted 393/8d and 335/3d in their innings, with Paul Horton and Gavin Ewing both scoring 119 in the second. For Rhinos, Riki Wessels saved their blushes in the first innings, scoring a huge 146 before Rhinos were bowled out for 298, but they were left chasing 431 in the second innings, or having to bat out 4 sessions to secure the draw that would have been good enough to get them to the final - but that proved too much of a challenge as they were bowled out for 253 to give Tuskers a comfortable 177-run win. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 393/8d (96.3 overs; Trenchard 84, Nicolson 3/121) & 335/3d (54.5 overs; Horton 119, Ewing 119, Mugava 2/42), Rhinos 298 (88.4 overs; Wessels 146, Meth 3/44) & 253 (67.1 overs; Benade 64, Mboyi 3/47). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 177 runs.
Dates are in for the rescheduled MetBank Pro40 semi-finals - if you remember, the first attempt at finals weekend was completely washed out.
Friday 25 March: Mountaineers v Midwest Rhinos
Saturday 26 March: Matabeleland Tuskers v Southern Rocks
I assume the final will take place on the 27th, but that's not yet confirmed. Matches to be played at Harare Sports Club.
The other Logan Cup match of the round, Mashonaland Eagles v Matabeleland Tuskers, was a heavily rain-affected affair that drew to a close after the completion of the first innings. Tuskers chose to field after winning the toss, and held Eagles to 131, with Dean Mazhawidza's 78 being the only thing that stood between the side and even greater humilation. Keegan Meth had an outstanding spell with the ball, taking seven wickets for 42. As an indication of how much the weather had affected the match, it took Eagles until the morning of day four to complete their innings, which was just over 60 overs long.
Tuskers lasted a similar amount of time, but managed to post 188 and at least secure the point for a first-innings lead. Unlike Eagles, there was no stand-out innings, with Adam Wheater's 33 being the best of an otherwise forgettable innings. Chad Keegan took 4/43, with Andrew Hall chipping in with 2/36. With no chance of either side completing a second innings in the remaining time, that was all she wrote.
Full scorecard below the cut. The result leaves Tuskers in third in the tourney table, behind Rhinos - who they'll now meet in the final round, starting Friday, in a match that will decide who goes on to meet Mountaineers in the Logan Cup final. Tuskers must win that match to go through, while for Rhinos a draw will do.
Eagles 131 (60.2 overs; Mazhawidza 78, Meth 7/42), Tuskers 188 59.3 overs; Wheater 33, Keegan 4/43). Match drawn.
A few big knocks, a lot of poor ones, and a tame draw of a result in Bulawayo - that's what the second of this week's Logan Cup matches served up, and with Tuskers needing a win to keep hold of second place in the tournament table, that wasn't the result they were looking for. Southern Rocks posted 261 to open the match, led by Chamu Chibhabha's 105 - he was ably supported by Richmond Mutumbami (54) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (47), but if you total them up you'll see that there wasn't muuch of a contriubtion from the rest of the team. Tuskers' bowlers spread the wickets around, with Njabulo Ncube, Keegan Meth and Tawanda Mupariwa each taking three apiece. In reply, Adam Wheater's 126 formed the basis of Tuskers' innings as they worked their way to 365, with captain Gavin Ewing scoring 80 as Tuskers secured the first-innings point. Blessing Mahwire took 4/54.
Time ran out on Rocks' second innings, though - it had gotten off to a good start, with Roy Kaia scoring 112 and Chamu Chibhabha falling just short of a ton of his own with 91, but the match was declared a draw with Rocks on 292/4, leaving Sikandar Raza unbeaten on 41*. And that was all she wrote. Tuskers move down into third after this round's matches, overtaken by Rhinos after their thumping defeat of Eagles, while Rocks remain rooted to the bottom and without a win in the series yet. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 261 (103 overs; Chibhabha 105, Mupariwa 3/35) & 292/4 (111 overs; Kaia 112, Meth 2/52), Tuskers 365 (129.1 overs; Wheater 126, Mahwire 4/54). Match drawn.