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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] Eagles Comeback Secures Win Over Rocks

Forster Mutizwa was the star in the Mashonaland Eagles turnaround three-wicket victory against Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club, with an emphatic unbeaten 163 runs on Thursday.

Eagles turned their fortunes around in the last session of day three when Elton Chigumbura (53) and Mutizwa formed a 115-run partnership. Going into the fourth and final day on Thursday, Eagles had an overnight total of 141/3, trailing by 197 runs. Mutizwa was unbeaten on 70 but was unfortunate to lose his partner in the early overs of the final day when Chigumbura was caught behind off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara. Trevor Garwe was sent in to bat ahead of Regis Chakabva. He made 39 runs. Chakabva was the most recognised batsman left and his departure for 10 when the Eagles needed 87 runs to win with four wickets remaining seemed to signal their defeat.

Young Nathan Waller joined Mutizwa and immediately took the fight to the Rocks, hitting three sixes and seven boundaries for a quick-fire 53 runs from just 48 deliveries. Mutizwa’s ton is his third in his first-class career. It came off 297 balls and included 25 boundaries.

There was a fair bit of good bowling in the match, mostly by the fast bowlers. With Mutizwa’s batting, they were the other factor that tossed the match back and forth between the two teams. Panyangara showed he was the most lethal Rocks’ bowler, taking three wickets in both innings for 76 runs – at an economy rate of 2.48 per over. Mark Mbofana matched Panyangara’s wickets, claiming five for 41 runs in the first innings and one for 19 in the second.

The victory earned the Eagles six points on the log and a point for the Rocks for a first-innings lead bonus. Southern Rocks can derive a lot of positives from this match. These include the balance in their bowling attack as well as a reliable and stable top and middle order. And so they stand a good chance for a positive result when they host the MidWest Rhinos next week in Masvingo. Meanwhile, Eagles will be in high spirits as they will be hosted by the Mountaineers at Mutare Sports Club. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 266 (91 overs; Mutumbami 70, Mbofana 5/41) & 219 (74.1 overs; Chibhabha 66, Waller 3/26), Eagles 147 (45.5 overs; Matsikenyeri 44, Panyangara 3/33) & 342/7 (97 overs; Mutizwa 164*, Panyangara 3/43). Mashonaland Eagles win by 3 wickets.

[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] Eagles Defeat Rocks

Forster Mutizwa drove Mashonaland Eagles to victory in their first match of the new season over the Southern Rocks in a Coca-Cola Cup one-day match played at Masvingo Sports Club on Saturday. Southern Rocks put up an impressive fight but some emphatic batting from the Eagles broke down their fortress on home soil.

The Zimbabwe domestic one-day competition has reverted to the 50-over format; last season the competition was played over 40 overs per side. However, the match in Masvingo had to be reduced to 40 each when rain had stopped play after 2.1 overs, when Rocks had scored five runs without loss. Mash Eagles won the toss and sent the home side in to bat, a decision that could have been prompted by the then overcast conditions – rare but ideal on a typical flat Masvingo wicket.

The young fast bowler, Nathan Waller, toppled the top order, removing Chamunorwa Chibhabha (15) in the 13th over, followed by Roy Kaia (29) in the 15th. Among a list of player movements this season is Prince Masvaure who left the Eagles for the Rocks, and his was the first wicket to fall, bowled by Trevor Garwe. Mark Vermeulen was the top scorer for the Rocks with a trademark proficient 41 runs from 71 deliveries, featuring three boundaries. Southern Rocks were 186 for eight after 40 overs. Visiting captain Stuart Matsikenyeri, on his debut match as the Mash Eagles skipper, tried out seven bowlers, the pick being Waller with two wickets for 18 from eight overs.

Mutizwa was sensational as he shared two 48-run partnerships and was the mainstay of the Eagles’ brisk pursuit. He partnered with Matsikenyeri (28) and then Mark Mbofana (24*). The former Mountaineers right-arm medium-pacer, Tinashe Panyangara, was a worthy signing for the Rocks as he took the fight to the Eagles, claiming three for 28 off his allotted eight overs. Mutizwa however was unstoppable with a well-played unbeaten 73 from 92 balls. Eagles reached their target in 37.5 overs with six wickets in hand.

Many of the bowlers appear not have utilised their off-season time profitably as a total of 60 extras were conceded in the match, making up 16% of the total runs scored, with five penalty runs being awarded to the Eagles for the batsmen persistently running on the pitch in the Southern Rocks innings. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 186/8 (40 overs; Vermeulen 41, Waller 2/18, Mbofana 2/31), Eagles 188/4 (37.5 overs; Mutizwa 73*, Panyangara 3/28). Mashonaland Eagles win by 6 wickets (D/L method).
[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]

Pakistan Seal Tour Whitewash With Narrow Win in 2nd T20

Zimbabwe had a wonderful chance of breaking Pakistan’s winning run by gaining a victory in the final match of the tour. Good bowling and some superb fielding saw them unexpectedly restrict Pakistan to 141 runs in their 20 overs, but their batsmen choked at the target, managing only 136, despite a final gallant effort by Tatenda Taibu, who finished unbeaten on 37. Their bogey man was once again Mohammad Hafeez, a man who seems to strike terror into Zimbabwean players' hearts, as shown by his 51 runs and three wickets in this match.

On another warm sunny day Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat, after their success going in first in their previous match. The pitch was ideal, good for batting but with some life and bounce for the bowlers. The start was not auspicious for the home side. The first ball of the innings was misfielded by Brendan Taylor in the covers, a single resulting, and ten runs came off that rather poor over from Prosper Utseya, a surprise choice to open the bowling.

After that, however, it was Zimbabwe almost all the way throughout the innings. Pakistan hit the ball in the air, only to find the Zimbabwe fielding vastly improved on their previous matches. The catches were taken and three batsmen were out for 34 in the sixth over. However, Hafeez was still there, and despite lack of support at the other end he ran to another 50 off 37 balls. He then skied a ball from Price to long-on and departed for 51. Umar Akmal, who had been his best partner, ran himself out for 28, and the innings eventually closed at 141 for seven. Kyle Jarvis had been the best of the bowlers, with a remarkable three for 14 in his four overs. Zimbabwe now found themselves in with a good chance of victory.

Vusi Sibanda drove the first ball of the Zimbabwe reply straight back down the ground for four. He and Chamu Chibhabha proceeded to play with a confidence that suggested that Zimbabwe believed in themselves and were on course for victory. After four overs the score was 28 without loss, but then both were dismissed in quick succession and the wheels came off with a vengeance. Cephas Zhuwao looked out of his depth; the experienced Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor lost their wickets to soft shots, and Zimbabwe were 72 for six after 13 overs. The team seems to have a deep-set fear of Hafeez, whether he is batting or bowling, as he took three of the wickets.

With Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura together, Zimbabwe still had a chance, though 53 were still needed off the last five overs with four wickets left. Taibu did not look at ease at first, but Chigumbura played enough good shots to give hope to his team, until he holed out at long-on for 24. Utseya faced five balls without scoring, leaving 29 needed off the final two overs, and 20 off the last. Taibu made a gallant effort and managed to get it down to six needed off the final ball – only for the bowler to put a yorker outside the off stump that Taibu left in expectation of it being called a wide. It was adjudged just legal, justifiably, but it was a disappointing anticlimax and Zimbabwe had lost again. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 141/7 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 51, Jarvis 3/15), Zimbabwe 136/7 (20 overs; Taibu 37*, Mohammad Hafeez 3/11). Pakistan win by 5 runs.

Pakistan Cruise to 1st T20 Win

Zimbabwe put Pakistan in to bat, the usual policy, and it did at least treat a comparatively small crowd of a few hundred to a brilliant display of hitting by the visiting batsmen. All the bowlers suffered, most of all Chris Mpofu, whose four overs went for 59 runs.

The first wicket fell in the seventh over, when Asad Shafiq slipped and was run out – but by then the total was already 74. Mohammad Hafeez once again was Zimbabwe's main destroyer, making 71 off 48 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) before being caught on the midwicket boundary, a stroke Pakistan probably thought was safe after three difficult chances had gone down in the deep. Zimbabwe's fielding was again found wanting.

Pakistan looked on course for a score of 200, but Zimbabwe did slow the rate with two more wickets. Sohail Tanvir came in to score 17 off five balls in the final over, from Mpofu, and the final total was 198 for four wickets. The Zimbabwe bowlers and fielders were shaken by such superb batting; Chamu Chibhabha, with one wicket for 17 runs off three overs, did as well as anybody and would probably have been a better choice than Mpofu for the final over.

Zimbabwe from the start had a mammoth task and had no alternative but to slog and the the scoreboard ticking. The Pakistanis knew where and how to bowl, and they did so skilfully, helped by some brilliant catching in the outfield. Their troubles began in the second over when, as a sign of things to come, Vusi Sibanda miscued a drive and Misbah-ul-Haq raced back from mid-off to take the first of several excellent catches by his team.

Chibhabha batted well for a while to make 26 off 28 balls, but it was Charles Coventry, restored to the team for this format of the game, who alone caused the bowlers some consternation. He hammered 30 off 13 balls, including four fours and a six, before inevitably skying a catch in the end, like so many of his team-mates, who had no alternative.

When Taibu was run out by a poor call from Price, it was only a matter of time, and in the end Zimbabwe subsided for 113, with almost five overs in hand. Almost inevitably, Hafeez was in the forefront of the bowling, and he took four wickets for 10 runs – and was again named Player of the Match. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 198/4 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 71, Chibhabha 1/17), Zimbabwe 113 (15.2 overs; Coventry 30, Mohammad Hafeez 4/10). Pakistan win by 85 runs.

Proficient Pakistan Seal Coca-Cola ODI Series

Pakistan celebrated a series whitewash with a 28 run victory over Zimbabwe, at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday. The visitors won all three matches in the Coca-Cola ODI series, in addition to the one-off Test match played in Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe made one change to their team, bringing in Kyle Jarvis for Chris Mpofu, while Pakistan made three, to give all of their squad a game with the series decided. Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first, bearing mind that the over 60% of the teams that decided to bowl first won their matches at Harare Sports Club. Superb batting saw Pakistan run up 34 runs off the first three overs, with Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat piercing the gaps for one boundary after another with ease. Then the bowlers tightened up, and the batsmen had to work harder until Hafeez pulled a ball from Brian Vitori to deep square leg to depart for 23 in the seventh over, with the score 45/1.

This was the pattern of the Pakistan innings, with periods of great strokeplay followed by times when Zimbabwe managed to pull them back within limits, although the tourists always had their noses in front. There was some brilliant Zimbabwe fielding and catching, but it was not good enough to turn the match. A low catch in the covers removed Farhat for 37, but then came a stand of 97 in 19 overs between Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq, one of the three newcomers to the team. They did not take the attack apart, but worked the ball around the field seemingly almost at will, accumulating quickly and steadily. As long as they were together, Pakistan had hopes of reaching 300.

Asad was stumped for 51, but Younus went on to make 81 off 90 balls, although dropped twice. He and Shoaib Malik were both out to superb return catches by Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura respectively in quick succession, and this scuppered the team’s chances of 300. However, Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal kept the score moving to the eventual total of 270 for five. Chigumbura, keeping an admirable line and length, was Zimbabwe’s best bowler with two for 36.

"There were too many dot-balls at the start which made it tough for people coming in. Good teams make it tough for you to build on a platform, and Pakistan played the better cricket today. Our bowlers showed good heart in the middle and end overs, but they came out and made it difficult for us," lamented Zimbabwean captain, Brendan Taylor.

Zimbabwe struggled in the beginning against accurate bowling from Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan. Sibanda brought the chase to life, taking three fours off an over from Tanvir, and the pair stepped up a gear. Crucially, they kept their wickets intact, although there were a couple of difficult chances. They both played with much better judgment and the 100 came up without loss in the 24th over. The bad news was that the required run rate was now over 6.5.

Sibanda had just reached his fifty, which he celebrated with a six over midwicket, and then checked out for 59 with a catch straight to long-on. The opening partnership had put on 110 in 25 overs. Brendan Taylor had an early exit, nudging a catch to the keeper for 6. Chibhabha after reaching his 50 began to attack, but on 62 hit a catch to short extra cover, reducing Zimbabwe to 133 for three. With the required rate now almost eight, this put tremendous pressure on the new batsmen.

Tatenda Taibu made 27 off 26 balls before falling on the midwicket boundary to a superb catch by Younus Khan, and then Hamilton Masakadza miscued a pull to midwicket. Zimbabwe were now 179 for five, required rate over eight, and all hopes rested on Chigumbura, who had done it before. But as he settled in with Malcolm Waller the rate rose to ten for the last eight overs, a virtually impossible task even for Chigumbura, given the circumstances and the tight bowling attack. The former captain struck one four in anger and then holed out on the midwicket boundary for 9 off 15 balls, the final nail in Zimbabwe’s demise.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe have a chance to get a victory on Friday in the first of two Twenty20 matches lined up in the series.
Pakistan 270/5 (50 overs; Younis Khan 81, Chigumbura 2/36), Zimbabwe 242/9 (50 overs; Chibhabha 62, Aizaz Cheema 4/43). Pakistan win by 28 runs.

Pakistan Ease to 10-Wicket Win in 2nd ODI

Pakistan barely broke into a sweat as they eased their way to a massive 10-wicket win, and secured the series in doing so, in the 2nd ODI in Harare. The day got underway with a touch of farce as, after winning the toss, Brendan Taylor 'froze' and announced that Zimbabwe would bat - it later emerged that the intention had been to field. Put in the unenviable position of setting a target, Zimbabwe's problems with pacing an innings soon came to the fore, and on a pitch where 260 would have been a par score the side only managed 225. It wasn't for lack of wickets in hand, either - 6 were lost during the innings - but after the early losses of Vusi Sibanda (once again out to the pull shot) and Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor settled down to a lengthy 104-run partnership that was simply too slow for the conditions. When the pair finally departed, Zimbabwe also kept big-hitting Elton Chigumbura out of the game until it was too late for him to make much difference, sending Tatenda Taibu and Malcolm Waller in ahead of him.

The failure to set a par target meant that, come their turn to bat, Pakistan simply had to avoid taking any chances, and that's what they did. Chris Mpofu and Brian Vitori managed to get some early turn off the wicket but failed to make any breakthroughs; spin pairing of Prosper Utseya and Ray Price tried their best to choke the flow of runs but, faced with a low target to work with, couldn't do enough, and opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat carried their bats to complete the chase without the loss of any Pakistan wickets.

Not a good day at the office, then, and the result raises some questions over team tactics and the side selected for the day. There's one more chance for Zimbabwe to save some face, with the 3rd ODI, also in Harare, on Wednesday (14th September). Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 225/6 (50 overs; Masakadza 68, Sohail Tanvir 2/33), Pakistan 228/0 (42.1 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 139*, Imran Farhat 75*). Pakistan win by 10 wickets.

Zimbabwe Fall Agonisingly Short in 1st ODI

Zimbabwe lost the first ODI against Zimbabwe by just 5 runs, falling agonisingly short of what would have been an important win. Full scorecard below the cut. More later.
Pakistan 247/7 (50 overs; Younis Khan 78, Price 2/39), Zimbabwe 242/7 (50 overs; Taylor 84, Aizaz Cheema 3/36). Pakistan win by 5 runs.

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