At Queens Sports Club Bulawayo, 02 November 2012: Final Day
Mountaineers (264 & 357/7 dec) v Tuskers (317/8 & 307/5)
Tuskers win by 5 wickets
Brian Chari fell just two short of his maiden first-class hundred, as he led Tuskers to victory over Mountaineers on a cold day at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Resuming on their overnight lead of 257, the Mountaineers batsmen came out with intent as it was obvious a declaration was top of their agenda. However their plans suffered an early set back as centurion Masakadza (170) chanced his arm too often and Craig Ervine took a stunning catch at cow corner. Masakadza could not believe his misfortune especially after the easy catches that had been grassed the previous day.
Mountaineers then made a bold declaration setting Tuskers 305 for victory at less than four runs to the over. The Tuskers response got off to a solid, but slow start as openers Chari and Terrence Duffin batted till the lunch interval.
Straight after lunch however, looking to up the scoring rate, Duffin lobbed an innocuous Natsai M’shangwe delivery straight to Tinotenda Mawoyo at short mid-wicket.
Moeen Ali joined Chari and their 147-run stand took the match away from the Mountaineers. Ali showed his class, making batting look easy. In most instances, he appeared to be receiving under-arm throw-downs. He had a reprieve in the 40s when Timycen Maruma put him down on the mid-wicket boundary. Ali eventually fell five short of his hundred, but he had put his team firmly on the front foot. His 95 came off 87 balls and included 12 boundaries and two massive sixes.
Craig Ervine came to the crease and scored 22 before he fell to M’shangwe. Charles Coventry was elevated to five to try finish the game in a hurry. With the sparse crowd warming up their hands to celebrate Chari’s ton, the right- hander went back to a length delivery from M’shangwe and was trapped in front. Coventry fell for 20, stumped off M’shangwe looking to play a huge sweep shot.
Mountaineers begun to sense an unlikely upset but Tuskers still had a lot of batting in the dressing room. Skipper Keegan Meth joined Ervine at the crease and saw Tuskers home without any further drama. They made 11 and 16 respectively.
Tuskers will be relieved to collect maximum points from this match, having been on top for most of the session, until the dropped catches on day three brought Mountaineers back into the match. Both sides will feel aggrieved by their butter-fingered display on the field as no less than 20 opportunities went down, most of which could be held by colts teams on a Wednesday afternoon.
Tuskers will be happy to get off to a winning start in defence of their Logan Cup title.