Mashonaland Eagles

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Feisty Mountaineers defeat Mashonaland Eagles

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.

Rocks Claim First Blood in One-Day Competition

After playing out a draw in the Logan Cup, Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles managed a competitive game in the one-Day MetBank Series. The tournament has some unusual playing conditions - 40 overs per side, in keeping with the one-day domestic competitions in England and South Africa, but allowing sides to field 13 players each (11 batting, 11 fielding). Rocks won the toss and opted to field, and Eagles managed to post a fairly impressive 252/7 from their 40 overs, with Greg Lamb posting an unusually rapid-fire 96 off 78 balls to lead the scoring. Steve Tikolo took 2/46 to lead Rocks' bowling figures, but with Eagles having raced along at 6.3/over for their innings, it was Rocks who faced the uphill battle to win.

They didn't shirk from the challenge, though - while Steve Marillier fell first ball to get Rocks off to a bad start, Sikandar Raza scored a career-best 77 off 61 balls to get the chase off to a good start, and while the mid-order pair of Craig Ervine (3) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (27) threatened to bog the side down, the arrival of Steve Tikolo brought with it the firepower to finish off the chase, as he fired 56 off 42 balls to see his side home with 4 wickets to spare. Doug Hondo's 1/12 was the best of an uninspiring Eagles attack.

That puts Rocks in the unusual situation of topping the table, at least until the result of the other match of the round comes in, and Eagles in the equally unfamiliar place of bottom. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 252/7 (40 overs; Lamb 96, Tikolo 2/46), Rocks 256/6 (38.1 overs; Sikandar Raza 77, Hondo 1/12). Southern Rocks win by 4 wickets.

Rocks & Eagles Draw in Season Opener

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.

Andrew Hall New Eagles Coach

Hot on the tail of Allan Donald heading to Mountaineers comes the news that fellow South African Andrew Hall has been signed as head coach of Mashonaland Eagles. According to the Daily News, Eagles CEO Hugo Ribatika has confirmed that Hall will be unveiled as coach ahead of the start of the new domestic season. Hall will be backed up by Grant Flower, who has been assigned by ZC as Eagles' assistant coach.

I'm running out of things to say about the appointments that are being made at the moment, to be honest. Interesting times indeed...
Daily News - Hall appointed Mash Eagles coach

Mashonaland Eagles Launch Development Programme

The Herald carries news this morning of the new grassroots development programme being launched by the Mashonalad Eagles, covering all agegroups from Colts (5+) to U19 level. The eventual aim of the project, according to Eagles CEO Hugo Ribatika, is to establish an academy that would serve as a conveyor belt churning out talented players to both the franchise and the national teams:

"We started off with 50 students because we had not gone all out to create awareness since we first wanted to put structures in place before going full scale. Enrolment, however, is still on-going. The objective primarily is to create a sustainable feeder system for both the men and the women’s teams. In order for us to be able to achieve that goal, proper development structures need to be put in place.

"The reason why we came up with this programme is threefold. Firstly we do not feel kids play sufficient cricket in their respective schools. Secondly not all children who have the passion for cricket have the facilities in their schools and lastly it’s part of our efforts to preach the gospel of cricket to all stakeholders.

"Cricket is becoming very competitive these days and we have a development sub-committee to ensure that Eagles will always compete at the top. One of the board’s mandate is grassroots development and in line with our theme our primary goal is for every kid in the franchise to love cricket. We believe in sustainability and in building a firm foundation for the future."

Grassroots was one area of cricket that suffered from real neglect during the 'dark years'. If you want a decent pool of players to select your national side from, you need to have a constant stream of players coming through the system to choose from, so full marks to Eagles for making this effort.
The Herald - Mash Eagles launch brooding programme

Rhinos Make a Comeback

In a thrilling Faithwear semi-final at Kwekwe Sports Club, Mid West Rhinos in some measure atoned for their failure to win the Logan Cup final the previous weekend by scraping home by two wickets against the same opposition, Mashonaland Eagles. They were the better side all round on the day, but so nearly threw away the match at the death due to two stupid run-outs and self-doubt. Despite fine batting from Vusi Sibanda and Rikki Wessels, it took the ninth-wicket pair of Ed Rainsford, who had again bowled superbly, and Simon Mugava to cobble together the last 14 runs to ensure they face Mountaineers in Mutare on Saturday for the one-day competition final.

Mid West won the toss and put Mashonaland in to bat on what appeared to be a flat pitch. There was a good crowd from the start, most of it comprising several hundred schoolchildren, most of them well-behaved and adding to the atmosphere with their enthusiastic chanting and dancing. The start was not promising for Mid West, as they fumbled a run-out in the first over as the batsmen dithered over their opening run, and then Cephas Zhuwawo survived a low chance to third man with the score at 10.

However, there was a little early movement for the bowlers, and Rainsford and Taurai Muzarabani, bowling superbly, had the batsmen very wary, if rarely in real trouble. The first boundary did not come until the eighth over, when Zhuwawo slogged a ball from Muzarabani for six over long on. In the same bowler's following over he pulled a big six over square leg, but off the very next ball edged a low catch to first slip. He made 17 and Mashonaland were 30 for one. His opening partner, Prince Masvaure, did not survive him long, caught at mid-off for 13. Ryan Butterworth was superbly caught low at short extra cover when Mike Chinouya came on to bowl, and Mashonaland were suddenly 40 for three.

Mid West continued the pressure, fine bowling backed by tight fielding. Chinouya took another two wickets, having Forster Mutizwa caught off a slice to third man for 12 and Greg Lamb caught driving to mid-off for five; he was rested after bowling five overs for 20 runs and three wickets, and surprisingly was not called on again. Graeme Cremer was now bowling superbly at the other end, and he it was who took out the big fish. Elton Chigumbura, who had so often steadied his team throughout the season when needed, tried to sweep him, only to lob a catch to the keeper. Mashonaland were now in real trouble at 77 for six in the 24th over. Chigumbura later said that his top order failed to read the pitch successfully: it was slow and did not favour driving.

Now, though, the bowling lost some of its intensity, while the batsmen learned better what game plan to use on it. Regis Chakabva stepped in where his seniors failed and hit a superb 62 off 52 balls (2 fours and 3 sixes), supported by Mark Mbofana with 23, and the pair nearly doubled the score. Their partnership ended in a run-out, Mbofana being the victim, and Chakabva quickly followed, perhaps unsettled by it. From 153 for eight, though, Trevor Garwe (19) and Raymond Price (34 not out) forged an invaluable partnership of 44, with Price in particular showing some innovative strokes, notably the reverse sweep, which unsettled the bowlers. This enabled Mashonaland to save face with a final total of 221 for nine. Rainsford, with only 29 conceded off ten overs, was most unlucky not to take a wicket; he is on present form probably the best seamer in the country at present. There were two wickets for Muzarabani, expensive at the end - the neglected Chinouya in retrospect might have been a better choice for the death overs - and Cremer.

Mid West, in their push for the final, which will take place in Mutare on Saturday, had the worst of starts when Innocent Chikunya, without a run on the board, slashed at the fourth ball of the innings, well outside the off stump from Chigumbura, and was easily taken by the keeper. They nearly lost Brendan Taylor at 12 from a hard chance to mid-on, but this was one of several misfields by Mashonaland. Taylor showed, apparently, great confidence right from the start, but played some risky strokes; however, this may just have been an excess of adrenalin, as he settled down to play more judiciously. Sibanda was less flamboyant but sounder, showing good shot selection.

Price came on to bowl a tight leg-stump line and restrict the scoring, and soon captured the wicket of Taylor, who holed out at deepish extra cover. He made 31 from 34 balls and the score was 78 for two in the 14th over. The hundred came up in the 19th, at which point Wessels was missed off the simplest of chances at mid-on. It now looked as if this pair was well settled, but disaster came as a mix-up between the batsmen led to Sibanda being run out for 56 off 76 balls. Next ball Malcolm Waller was caught at slip, Butterworth being the bowler, and the balance of the match was suddenly changed, Mid West now stuttering at 117 for four in the 24th over.

Wessels, who refused to sacrifice himself for his captain, who was in such fine form, now had a moral responsibility to see his side through to victory. He and Cremer steadied the innings and built a sound partnership together. They added 72 together before, ironically, more poor running and another run-out saw the departure of Cremer for a valuable 22, just as Mid West were looking well set for victory. Wessels himself soon followed for 70, the leg-spinner Tino Mutombodzi taking a sharp return catch, and once again Mid West were in danger at 199 for six, 23 more needed with seven overs left and an unreliable tail to bat.

Friday Kasteni, the left-hander in such poor form recently, was the one recognized batsman left. A sharp pull for four off Chigumbura, returning for the death, showed he was not without confidence - but then the very next ball he tried a similar stroke to the wrong ball and popped up a simple catch to midwicket. This was trouble indeed now, with the two opening bowlers Rainsford and Muzarabani together. The ground erupted when Muzarabani swept Mutombodzi for a risky four, only for him to fall to a smart stumping next ball, with 14 still needed. But, with more than five overs left, at least they were not under pressure from the run rate.

It now looked as if the Mashonaland juggernaut would do it again as the novice Mugava joined Rainsford, talented but very inconsistent with the bat. Surprisingly, though, it was an over from Chigumbura, usually so reliable in a crisis, that gave Mid West their burst to victory. It included a high leg-side wide that went through to the boundary and some loose deliveries that went for runs and relieved the pressure. Finally a mishit by Rainsford brought three runs to the vacant fine-leg position off Mutombodzi, and Mid West were through to the final by the skin of their teeth - or by the thick inside edge of the bat. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 221/9 (50 overs; Chakabva 62, Chinouya 3/20), Rhinos 222/8 (46.3 overs; Wessels 70, Chigumbura 2/42). Rhinos win by 2 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

Eagles win Logan Cup

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.]

Franchise 'B' League: Rhinos Draw with Eagles

These matches took place a while back, so I'm not going to dig into the details, but the scorecards are only becoming available now. Posting what I have for the record - full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 141 (52 overs; Nyathi 36, Munyede 4/23) & 28/2 (14 overs; Mutyambizi 10, Mutombodzi 1/7), Eagles 198 (66 overs; Mutombodzi 58, Topotsa 3/19). Match drawn.

Franchise 'B' League: Eagles Beat Mountaineers by 6 Wickets

These matches took place a while back, so I'm not going to dig into the details, but the scorecards are only becoming available now. Posting what I have for the record - full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 155 (38.2 overs; Mushangwe 66, Munyede 3/7) & 106 (33.1 overs; Maparura 39, Mutombodzi 6/32), Eagles 136 (42.2 overs; Mwakayeni 39, Mushangwe 6/32) & 126/4 (24.2 overs; Mwakayeni 65, Mushangwe 2/46). Eagles 'B' win by 6 wickets.

Franchise 'B' League: Tuskers beat Eagles by 168 runs

These matches took place a while back, so I'm not going to dig into the details, but the scorecards are only becoming available now. Posting what I have for the record - full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 158 (41.1. overs; Chari 40, Mbofana 3/13) & 292/5 decl (50.2 overs; Vermeulen 137, Mwenda 1/28), Eagles 62 (20.5 overe; Zinyama 22, Mamhiyo 5/34) & 220 (82.2 overs; Mwakayeni 57, Mankunzini 3/40). Tuskers 'B' win by 168 runs.

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