Matches on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October:
Kwekwe: Mid-West Rhinos v Mashonaland Eagles
Masvingo: Southern Rocks v Matabeleland Tuskers
This week has been overshadowed by the tragic death of the Mashonaland Eagles coach and former national player, Kevin Curran, in Mutare on Wednesday, and as a result the matches scheduled for the team against the home side Mountaineers have been postponed to a date to be announced. The matches in Masvingo took place, where Mid-West Rhinos emulated the two teams that should have played in Mutare by recording victories in both the Pro50 and T20 matches, against Southern Rocks. The highlight was a magnificent innings of 190 by Vusi Sibanda in the longer match, a new domestic one-day record.
Even last season, though, when they had two major run-scorers in Gary Ballance and Riki Wessels, Rhinos lacked depth in their batting, and are reliant on too few players for runs. They just scraped home in their T20 match at Masvingo on Thursday, thanks to several dropped catches, and can probably be regarded as underdogs this weekend when they host Mashonaland Eagles, who will no doubt be pulling out all the stops to record two victories as a tribute to Kevin. In any case Mashonaland Eagles do have greater all-round strength and depth.
Barring a remarkable change in the weather or unexpected circumstances, at least one of Matabeleland Tuskers and Southern Rocks will record a first victory in Masvingo this weekend. Tuskers have two one-day defeats behind them (to Mountaineers, who have a bye) and Rocks four, so both will be desperate to start winning. Tuskers have the stronger all-round side and should be favourites to win.
On Wednesday afternoon there was an enthusiastic crowd of about thirty spectators at Masvingo Sports Club, and they are hoping for perhaps two hundred over the weekend. Kwekwe is also likely to be well supported. This is in sad contrast to the empty stands habitually seen at Harare Sports Club for domestic cricket, but it is inspiring to see good support for the game at the smaller centres in particular.