This week’s matches (Tuesday 13 to Friday 16 November):
At Harare Sports Club: Mashonaland Eagles v Mid-West Rhinos
At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo: Matabeleland Tuskers v Southern Rocks
Four Logan Cup matches have been played so far this season.
Not only have all four produced outright results, but the victories have gone to four different teams. The surprising exception is Mashonaland Eagles, who have lost both their matches, but certainly have the resources to bounce back quickly.
This means that the race for the Logan Cup at this stage looks wide open and, on current form – given reasonable weather – matches are likely to produce a result, and these results are not always predictable.
There is still a question mark over Southern Rocks. They should have been infused with confidence after their victory over Mashonaland Eagles in the opening match of the season, but they lost by an innings to Mid-West Rhinos on their home ground last week. Their seam bowling was good although countered by very determined Rhinos batting. But their batting quite failed to show the resolution it did in Harare, and all that resolution will be needed when they face up to Matabeleland Tuskers in Bulawayo this week.
Rhinos go to Harare with the confidence of having thrashed the team that defeated Mashonaland Eagles. Eagles played a fascinating match in Mutare, where fortunes fluctuated wildly, but in the end the determination of the Mountaineers batsmen won through. There were centuries by Tinotenda Mawoyo in the first innings and the Essex batsman Mark Pettini in the second, but the match could not have been won without the outstanding batting of Timycen Maruma in both innings.
Eagles lost because of the absence of a batsman able to go on to make a really big score – except for the surprise packet in the second innings of Tinotenda Mutombodzi, who is played mainly for his leg-spinners but recorded a maiden century. They need their top order to do this. Their bowling was also inconsistent, unable to capitalise on the breakthroughs they made. But if at least two of their missing trio of Raymond Price, Kyle Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura are available, they will go into the match against Rhinos with a much stronger team this time.
The Rhinos’ match against Rocks seemed to indicate, though, that their key players are in sparkling form, although Vusimuzi Sibanda would like a major innings. There were centuries from the Essex professional Jaik Mickleburgh and Brendan Taylor, the latter turning the game decisively when he switched from defence to attack at just the right moment. The new-ball bowlers Edward Rainsford (a hat-trick) and Mike Chinouya (10 wickets) are in superb form, and if Richard Muzhange can regain his best form then the Rhinos’ pace bowling should be better than anything Eagles can produce, even with Jarvis. Rhinos are not so strong in spin, though.
This should be a fine match and may possibly turn out to be a decisive one when the Logan Cup is reviewed at the end of the season. It is particularly crucial for the struggling Eagles team in their position behind the field.
Logan Cup points so far (matches played in brackets): Matabeleland Tuskers 7 (1), Mid-West Rhinos 7 (1), Mountaineers 7 (2), Southern Rocks 7 (2), Mashonaland Eagles 0 (2).