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[Pro50] Mountaineers Crumble to Eagles Again

After being comprehensively beaten in their Logan Cup meeting, Mountaineers found themselves unable to take their revenge on Mashonaland Eagles in their Pro50 meeting on Saturday. Eagles set a useful 269, with Stuart Matsikenyeri's maiden List A ton leading the way and, he'll be hoping, marking a return to some decent form - although his was the only Eagles innings of note. Shingi Masakadza, Donald Tiripano and Prosper Utseya bagged two apiece for Mountaineers. I reply, though, Mountaineers were truly dismal, apart from a fighting 71 scored by Hamilton Masakadza off 81 balls - but with none of his team-mates passing 20, he ended up being responsible for nearly half his teams runs, as Mountaineers were bowled out for a paltry 152, Kyle Jarvis (4/35) leading the carnage.

That leaves Mountaineers, usually considered one of the domestic game's premier sides, propping up the table in both the Logan Cup and Pro50 tournaments - very much unfamiliar territory for them. Eagles, meanwhile, are riding high at the top of the table, with the maximum 10 points from their two matches. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 269/9 (50 overs; Matsikenyeri 110*, S Masakadza 2/46), Mountaineers 152 (38.3 overs; H Masakadza 71, Jarvis 4/35). Mashonaland Eagles win by 117 runs.

[Logan Cup] Tuskers Trounce Mountaineers

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]

[Pro50] Tuskers beat Mountaineers by 131 runs

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]

Tuskers Win Castle Logan Cup

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]

Rhinos Demolish Mountaineers' Cup Hopes

The first semi-final of the MetBank Pro40 Championship between Mid-West Rhinos and Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club turned out to be a disappointing contest. Mid-West Rhinos seemed to have lost their chance as they managed to total no more than 200 on a good pitch, but then Mountaineers collapsed dismally against good bowling to be rolled over for 84. Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Solomon Mire all did well with the bat for the winners, while all the bowlers did well, Graeme Cremer finishing with the best result of four cheap wickets.

Mountaineers won the toss and decided to field. Mid-West Rhinos did not make a good start, losing both openers for 19, including Brendan Taylor who, if he was attempting one of his now famous uppercuts, miscued it badly and skied a catch that was well taken by point running backwards. He had never looked fluent in scoring 10 off 25 balls. Then Waller joined Sibanda and a good partnership developed. Sibanda did not always time the ball well and more than once a miscued stroke just evaded the fielders, but he stuck to his task. Waller began rather uncertainly but once he found his touch he played his strokes well and caught up with Sibanda. They had just taken the score past 100 when Sibanda ran himself out, starting off for a single that wasn’t there, near Timycen Maruma in the covers, and was unable to get back in time to beat a good throw. He had made 42 off 61 balls.

Waller reached 54 and then drove over a yorker from Netsai Mushangwe, and two more quick wickets fell. At this point Mid-West Rhinos were looking bad at 134 for six after 31 overs. It was an impressive and powerfully hit 45 off 30 balls from Mire that turned the situation around. Supported well by Cremer, he attacked the bowling with confidence, hitting two fours and three sixes. Off the last ball of the 40 overs Mid-West Rhinos reached 200, with six wickets down. Shingi Masakadza and Maruma took two wickets each, but both only bowled five of their allotted eight overs.

If Mid-West Rhinos had started badly, Mountaineers began worse, even suicidally. Sensible batting should have achieved their moderate target. Jonathan Beukes was given out caught down the leg side off the first ball he faced, while Tino Mawoyo (6) drove outside the off stump and edged to the keeper. Hamilton Masakadza (2) was bowled driving at a full-length ball from Nicolson, while Maruma (6) drove a low catch to mid-off. The four most capable batsmen in the team had gone for 19 runs within four overs, leaving the rest of the line-up to pull off a near-miracle if the match was to be won. The bowling was very good, certainly, but not good enough to excuse such a fall of wickets to poor strokes.

The inexperienced 17-year-old Kevin Kasuza held on gamely, though, and Prosper Utseya helped him take the score to 45 before he mistimed a stroke against Cremer and sent a return catch. Kasuza finally fell at 71, slicing a drive to mid-off, having made much the highest score of 30. His lack of experience was clear but his determination impressed. Apart from a six by Donald Tiripano, the rest of the batting subsided without a whimper for a shameful total of 84. Mountaineers will need to do much better in the Logan Cup final next week. Nicolson and Lewis, who made the early breakthrough, took two wickets each, as did Richard Muzhange, while Cremer did almost as he liked in taking four wickets for 13 runs in seven overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 200/6 (40 overs; Waller 54, S Masakadza 2/17), Mountaineers 85 (25 overs; Kasuza 30, Cremer 4/13). Midwest Rhinos win by 116 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Vermeulen Fired by Mountaineers

The Zimbabwe Independent reports that the bad boy of Zimbabwean cricket, Mark Vermeulen, has been fired by Mountaineers after he angrily contested two decisions by the umpire in a Logan Cup match against Mashonaland Eagles at Mutare Sports Club last month.

According to Mountaineers' CEO Philip Senzani, Vermeulen checked video replays on both occasions and went mad when he viewed his second innings dismissal after discovering that he should not have been dismissed. After learning of his suspension Vermeulen went ballistic and demanded all the money he was meant to get for the rest of the season — a demand which was turned down.

Mountaineers had signed Vermeulen after he had been released by Tuskers at the end of last season, also on disciplinary grounds.
Zimbabwe Independent - Mark Vermeulen gets the boot

Southern Rocks Claim Inter-Provincial 'B' Title

We've gotten very little in the way of results for the Inter-Provincial 'B' series, which saw the five franchise 'B' sides face off in a series of 3-day matches, but we did at least get full details of the tournament final. That ended in Masvingo yesterday with a thumping win for Southern Rocks over Mountaineers. Rocks, batting first after winning the toss, posted 530, with tons from Tendai Chisoro (130) and Tendai Chitongo (164) forming the backbone of their innings and Alester Maregwede chipping in with a useful 72. That was more than enough, and Chitongo again did the heavy lifting, taking 4/32 and 4/22 with the ball on the way to bowling Mountaineers out for 197 and, after enforcing the follow-on, 122 - which left them still 211 runs short of Rocks' massive total. Kudzai Sauramba's 49 in the first innings was the best score that Mountaineers could muster. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 530 (165 overs; Chitongo 164, Mufudza 3/91), Mountaineers 197 (45.2 overs; Sauramba 49, Chitongo 4/32) & 122 (41.3 overs; Sauramba 47, Chitongo 4/22). Southern Rocks 'B' win by an innings and 211 runs.

Mountaineers Defeat Rocks by 9 Wickets

Mountaineers completed the group stage of their Logan Cup campaign with another thumping win, this time a 9-wicket victory over the winless Southern Rocks. Tendai Chatara starred for Mountaineers, taking 11 wickets in the match and conceeding just 49 runs in 38 overs bowled to return figures of 6/33 and 5/16; Rocks could only manage 177 & 94 in their innings. Their second-innings total was enough to make Mountaineers bat again, but they needed less than 11 overs in their second innings to claim the full seven points - although it must be said that their first innings was dominated by three good knocks (Tino Mawoyo's 62, Timycen Maruma's 54 and Bernard Mlambo's 40) while the rest of the side failed miserably. Mountaineers will no doubt be glad to have some experience back in the side some the final.

Rocks finish bottom of the heap, while Mountaineers now go on to meet Tuskers in the final. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 177 (66 overs; Mutumbami 67, Chatara 6/33) & 94 (37.5 overs; Sikandar Raza 25, Chatara 5/16), Mountaineers 218 (68.4 overs; Mawoyo 62, Vitori 6/55) & 56/1 (10.3 overs; H Masakadza 29*, Mahwire 1/32). Mountaineers win by 9 wickets.

New Dates for MetBank Pro40 Semi-Finals Announced

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.

Rhinos Trampled by Mountaineers

After beating Eagles by an innings in the last round, it was Rhinos' turn to get thumped by a similar margin this week as Mountaineers ran rampage over them in this week. Mountaineers were put in to bat first by Rhinos, and went on to set a first-innings total of 245 - a poor score by most measures. Gary Chirtimuta led the way with 105, while Justin Lewis produced another good spell with the ball to take 6/52 and keep Mountaineers in check.

That was the theory, anyway. But Rhinos followed their decent work with the ball with two thoroughly dismal innings with the bat, posting 61 & 88. For Mountaineers, both Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara too five'fers - one in each innings - while Rhinos managed a top score of just 23 (Neville Madziva in the first innings). A match best forgotten for Rhinos, then, and a result that guarantees Mountaineers their place in the Logan Cup final.

Full scorecard below the cut. Rhinos go on to meet Tuskers in the final round which, depending on the result on the ongoing Tuskers / Eagles match, could be a winner-takes-all playoff for the second final spot - in which case Rhinos will be hoping for a sudden and dramatic improvement in form.
Mountaineers 245 (85.1 overs; Chirimuta 105, Lewis 6/52), Rhinos 61 (27.2 overs; Madziva 23, Tiripano 5/26) & 88 (f/o; 40.3 overs; Mugava 20, Chatara 5/35). Mountaineers win by an innings and 96 runs.

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