First up for this week's round of Faithwear Metbank one-day matches was the Masvingo meeting between Southern Rocks and Mountaineers, where Mountaineers managed to maintain their unbeaten run in the competition. Rocks won the toss and opted to bat, and after some early wobbles - the first two wickets were lost for just 15 runs - managed to build a decent score of 278/5 from their 50 overs. Craig Ervine did most of the work with a quick-fire 111 not-out (from 103 balls), with Thomas Odoyo chipping in with a useful 55 not-out, also at better than a run a ball. Steady Musoso led the bowling for Mountaineers, taking 2/41 from 6 overs.
In reply, though, Moutaineers never looked in trouble. Opener Tino Mawoyo amassed an impressive 97, with Tatenda Taibu (53) and Timycen Maruma (64*) backing him up as the visitors chased down the total with four overs to spare. Hilary Matanga's 2/46 was the best of Rocks' bowlers, most of whom never seemed to cause any trouble for their opposition.
That leaves Mountaineers on top of the table with 24 points, double the tally of second-placed Rhinos & assured of finishing top - although with four of the five sides able to qualify for the semi-finals next month, it's really just last place that sides want to avoid. With Rocks just one win ahead of last-placed Tuskers, though, they'll be casting worried looks over their shoulders. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 278/5 (50 overs; Ervine 111*, Musoso 2/41), Mountaineers 279/4 (46 overs; Mawoyo 97, Matanga 2/46). Mountaineers win by 6 wickets.
Mountaineers and Southern Rocks played out a rather pointless draw in Masvingo after a waterlogged pitch led to the loss of the first days' play in their Logan Cup match-up in Masvingo. When play finally got underway on day two, Mountaineers were put in to bat after the hosts won the toss and went on to score a decent 350 - but with their innings taking the match into day three it also ensure there was almost no chance of a result. Stuart Matsikenyeri's 97 was the backbone of the Mountaineers innings, while Hilary Matanga took an impressive 5/98. Rocks then went on to score 237 in their first innings, with Craig Irvine's 63 leading the way while Timycen Maruma took 6/100. With Rocks only being bowled out on the morning of day four, though, Moutaineers' second innings was little more than a practice knock, which they used to rack up 145/4 before play ended.
Mountaineers come out of the match slightly better off, with 12 points to Rocks' 10, but it was hardly the most exciting of matches. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 350 (139.2 overs; Matsikenyeri 97, Matanga 5/98) & 145/4 decl (47 overs; Marumisa 56*, Tikolo 1/18), Rocks 237 (Ervine 63, Maruma 6/100). Match Drawn.
The Faithwear Metbank series matchup between Mountaineers and Mashonaland Eagles ended with no result after rain stopped play. Early rain had already seen the match reduced to 43 overs per side, while Eagles had built a reasonable start of 111/2 led by Forster Mutizwa (42*), but then the rain came down again and that was the end of that. Both sides take 2 points from the match. Scorecard below the cut, what there is of it.
Eagles 111/2 (21.5/43 overs; Mutizwa 42*, S Masakadza 2/16), Mountaineers did not bat. No result - rain stopped play.
Mashonaland Eagles claimed their third win of the competition in Mutare in the other Logan Cup match of the week, cementing their position at the top of the table. Batting first after being put in by Eagles, Mountaineers managed only a meagre 291 from their first innings, with Stuart Matsikenyeri accounting for 110 of them. Some support came from Tino Mawoyo (42) and Jethro Maudzi (57), but otherwise it was an unremarkable innings by the Mutare side. Trevor Garwe took 4/59 for Eagles. In reply, Eagles cemented their early advantage by scoring 315, giving them a small first-innings lead of 24. Greg Lamb's 85 was the best of the bunch, with Regis Chakabva (55) also claiming a half-ton as Eagles put in a more balanced batting display.
Mountaineers' second innings had more players getting decent knocks - Hamilton Masakadza led the scoring with 52, while Stuart Matsikenyeri (50) and Timycen Maruma (47) also chipped in - but the failure of others to push on once again left them with a score that looked decidedly sub-par for a side that prides itself on its batting talent. 249 was the score when they were bowled out - Kyle Jarvis took 6/60 for Eagles, who were left chasing 226 to win in their second innings. It was a target that was chased down with minimum fuss, with Forster Mutizwa's unabaten 90 leading the way, ably supported by Greg Lamb's 77 not-out. Eagles claimed the victory with 6 wickets to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 291 (83.4 overs; Matsikenyeri 110, Garwe 4/59) & 249 (65.5 overs; H Masakadza 52, Jarvis 6/60), Eagles 315 (87.4 overs; Lamb 85, Maruma 4/88) & 227/4 (49.3 overs; Mutizwa 90*, Ncube 2/39). Eagles win by 6 wickets.
History repeated itself in Mutare today - in their Logan Cup meeting earlier in the week, Rhinos had a woeful first innings against the Mountaineers, and in today's match had an equally bad opening knock. In the Logan Cup, of course, they had a second innings an used it well to make a remarkable comeback, but the one-day game isn't quite so forgiving. Rhinos won the toss and opted to bat, and almost immediately began to fall apart. There were only two partnerships of note: Friday Kasteni (39) and Vusi Sibanda (15) put on 48 for the 3rd wicket, while Solomon Mire (70*) and Michael Chinouya (6) added 59 for the final wicket as the Rhinos' tail wagged. The side were still bowled out for 166 in the 44th over, though, and needed to perform a miracle with the ball if they were to claim the points from the match. Donald Tiripano led the bowling for Mountaineers with figures of 4/27.
There was to be no miracle, though - in fact, Rhinos weren't even able to claim a wicket on the day, as opening pair Bernard Mlambo (88*) and Tino Mawoyo (63*) completed the chase without any help, other than from Rhinos bowlers, who proved completely unable to contain the duo. That secured Moutaineers a 10-wicket win, and left them sitting pretty on top of the Faithwear Metbank table at the half-way point of the competition, unbeaten and with double the points of their nearest rivals. Unstoppable? Just maybe. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 166 (43.4 overs; Mire 70*, Tiripano 4/27), Mountaineers 170/0 (36 overs; Mlambo 88*, Mayowo 63*). Mountaineers win by 10 wickets.
An eventful first day in the Logan Cup meeting between Mountaineers and Midwest Rhinos in Harare left it looking as though Rhinos were on the rocks, but an outstanding second-innings comeback saw them edge past Mountaineers by 19 runs to claim yet another win. Put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, Rhinos managed a paltry 136 in their first knock, with Timycen Maruma (6/40) scything through the batting lineup - only four batsmen reached double figures, with Innocent Chikunya's 54 going a long way to sparing Rhinos' blushes. Mountaineers didn't do much better initially, ending the first day on 142/5, but come day two they found their footing and, led by Jethro Maudzi's composed 105 (on his first-class debut), progressed to 303 before Rhinos finally took their final wicket. Dylon Higgins, also on debut, took an impressive 6/93 for Rhinos and marked himself out as another spinner to watch, while Rememberance Nyathi took 3/44.
That left Rhinos trailing by 167 at the start of the second innings and still facing an uphill battle, but it was that man Vusi Sibanda who again put in an innings worthy of a captain to give Rhinos a fighting chance - he added 215, his third career-best innngs of the season, to lead his side to a total of 416. Friday Kasteni (38) and Rememberance Nyathi (36) were the best of the rest, while Timycen Maruma took 4/127 for Mountaineers. Mountaineers then had to chase 250 to win the match, and Rhinos made sure not to make it easy for them - apart from Johnson Marumisa's 64, none of the Mountaineers batsmen were able to push on past the 30 mark, and with Dylon Higgins again starring with the ball & taking 5/58 to bring his haul for the match to 11/151, Rhinos managed to bowl the home side out for 230 to secure a win that had looked highly unlikely just a few days before.
Their poor first innings performance did mean that Rhinos didn't claim as many points from the match as they would have liked, though, and with all sides having played four matches they're now one point off the lead, behind Mashonaland Eagles, while Mountaineers, with the same win/loss record as the sides above them, are five points behind Rhinos. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 136 (44.1 overs; Chikunya 54, Maruma 6/40) & 416 (103.5 overs; Sibanda 215, Maruma 4/127), Moutaineers 303 (106.4 overs; Maudzi 105, Higgins 6/93) & 230 (77.5 overs; Marumisa 64, Higgins 5/58). Midwest Rhinos win by 19 runs.
Tuskers' woeful start to the season continued on Monday, while Mountaineers in turn maintained their 100% record in the Faithwear series with a thumping 8-wicket win in Bulawayo. Mountaineers won the toss and opted to field, and immediately had Tuskers on the back foot when Mark Vermeulen, who has been having a poor run of form so far this season, went for just one run, closely followed by Charles Coventry just four balls later. Sean Williams (58) was able to steady the innings, though, in tandem with Dion Ebrahim (15) and then Tafadzwa Ngulube (25), while Gavin Ewing's 48 not-out proved a useful lower-order contribution. Njabulo Ncube took 2/27 for Mountaineers, while Prosper Utseya was back to his parsimonious best, conceding just 29 runs from his 10 overs and helping restrict Tuskers to 217/7 from their allotted 50 overs.
Not a bad score, by most measures, but woefully inadequate on the day as Mountaineers treated Tuskers' bowlers as though it were a Twenty20 match. Only four batsmen were needed to chase the target, with Tino Mawoyo (50), Hamilton Masakdaza (51*) and current form man of the season Timycen Maruma (104*) more than countering Tatenda Taibu's disappointing knock of just 5. Mountaineers reached their target with a whopping 17 overs to spare, and in doing so confirmed their status as tournament favourites. Chris Mpofu (2/33) took both wickets for Tuskers, whose misery continues.
Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 217/7 (50 overs; Williams 58, Ncube 2/27), Mountaineers 218/2 (33 overs; Maruma 104*, Mpofu 2/33). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.
Ask any Zimbabwe fan before the season started which sides would have been in the running for a title, and Tuskers would have been one of the sides mentioned - they've got, on paper, one of the best sides in the new franchise setup, but so far they've spectacularly failed to find any winning form, and against Mountaineers this week imploded to another embarrassing loss. And they'd started so well, too - after winning the toss and opting to field, they had visitors Mountaineers on the ropes at 7/99 at one point, as Mountaineers struggled to find any form with the bat. Seven of their batsmen departed for single-figure scores - a real worry for a side that relies heavily on its batting talent - and only 70 from Stuart Matsikenyeri and a lower-order 56 from Shingi Masakadza spared their blushes as they were bowled out for 203.
From there, Tuskers should have pressed their advantage, but instead they managed to turn in an even worse performance with the bat. Openers Dion Ebrahim (41) and Terry Duffin (17) got the side off to a good start with an opening partnership of 48, but from there it all began to go wrong as wickets began to fall at regular intervals. A 6th-wicket partnership of 76 between Gregory Strydom and Tafadzwa Ngulube stopped the rot for a while, but it wasn't enough as Tuskers ended on just 191, with their advantage wasted.
In the second innings, Mountaineers made sure not to repeat their mistakes, and led by Hamilton Masakadza (172*) and Timycen Maruma (76) - the pair put on 154 for the 5th wicket - they worked their way to 393/6 before declaring their innings over and leaving Tuskers to chase a target of 406. As with Rocks in the other match of the round, though, they never got close. Collapsing to 58/7 left the writing very much on the wall, and while Sean Williams at 10th led a lower-order fightback with a composed 76, the end came quickly as Tuskers were bowled out for 201.
A 204-run win for the Mountaineers, then, and top place in the tournament table for the time being (Rhinos were on a bye this week, and on current form I'd expect them to regain top place once they've played their game in hand). For Tuskers, yet another disappointment - they've got the players, but you have to wonder what they need to do to get match-winning performances out of them. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 203 (68.1 overs; Matsikenyeri 70, Mpofu 4/39) & 393/6 decl (106 overs; H Masakadza 172*, Mpofu 2/86), Tuskers 191 (77.4 overs; Ebrahim 41, Maruma 3/18) & 201 (79 overs; Williams 76, Maruma 5/67). Mountaineers win by 204 runs
Better late than never, we finally have the full details of Sunday's match between Mountaineers and Rocks, which ended in another straightforward win for the home side. Batting first after winning the toss, Rocks - as in their 2nd innings in their Logan Cup match - failed to find any form, leading to them posting a score that was nowhere near to good enough. Chamu Chibhabha (38) and Alester Maregwede (36) did their best to form a foundation, putting on 51 together for the 3rd wicket, but it was all downhill after that as the side were bowled out for 177 at the end of the 42nd over. Timycen Maruma, Donald Tiripano, Natsai Mushangwe and Tendai Chitara all took two wickets apiece.
Mountaineers didn't have things entirely their own way in reply, with Tino Mawoyo, Tatenda Taibu and Prosper Utseya all falling cheaply, but captain Hamilton Masakdza's 86 not-out was enough of a base to ensure the win. Tendai Chisoro's 3/45 was a good effort, but not enough in light of the low target. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 177 (42 overs; Chibhabha 38, Maruma 2/17), Mountaineers 183/5 (41.4 overs; H Masakadza 86*, Chisoro 3/45). Mountaineers win by 5 wickets.
Sorry, couldn't resist. :) Southern Rocks made their Logan Cup debut, minus start signing Steve Tikolo, as they faced Mountaineers in Mutare last week. Mountaineers won the toss and opted to field, giving Rocks the chance to show what they're made of - of all the new franchise sides, they've been the least forthcoming about who they've signed, so this was really the first chance to see who the Masvingo-based side were fielding, and after the early departure of opener Keith Kondo the signs were beginning to look good that they'd put together a competitive side. Eric Chauluka (43) and captain Chamu Chibhabha (60) put on 105 for the 2nd wicket, with #4 Jemton Chinyengetere adding a patient 59. From 182/4, though, the lower order failed to find any form, and the Rocks were rolled over for 250, with Timycen Maruma's 5/37 inflicting most of the damage.
Mountaineers missed a chance to put their stamp on the match during the first innings, though - while Stuart Matsikenyeri (76) and Prosper Utseya (54) put in good performance for the home side, support from the rest of the side was sadly lacking. They at least managed to take a first-innings lead, being bowled out for 287, but given the batting pedigree that Mountaineers has you would have to consider that a disappointing total. Tendai Chisoro led the bowling figures for Rocks with 2/33 from 7 overs bowled.
From a first innings where honours were shared, though, Rocks when completely to pieces in the second, as Maruma (5/61) once again tore through the batting - Alester Maregwede's 82 not-out was the best of the bunch, but with the Rocks at one point reduced to 43/7 it seemed the match would be over on Day Three. Maregwede and Hilary Matanga then put on an impressive and face-saving final-wicket stand of 111, before unlucky Nelson struck to end their resistance with the score on 211.
That left Mountaineers chasing 175 to win, and an opening partnership of 107 by Timycen Maruma (86*) and Tatenda Taibu (49) began the last rites for Rocks' chances. Taibu and #3 Natsai Mushangwe fell along the way, but Maruma and Bernard Mlambo sew the chase through to its completion, giving Mountaineers an 8-wicket victory.
That leaves Mountaineers in 2nd place in the Logan Cup table, just one point behind Rhinos. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 250 (74.1 overs; Chibhabha 60, Maruma 5/37) & 211 (90.1 overs; Maregwede 82*, Maruma 5/61), Mountaineers 287 (99.1 overs; Matsikenyeri 76, Chisoro 2/33) & 180/2 (42.4 overs; Mawoyo 86*, Matanga 2/46). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.