LOGAN CUP MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v MID-WEST RHINOS
Day 4: 16 November 2012, at Harare Sports Club
Result: Mid-West Rhinos (265 and 433/7 dec) beat Mashonaland Eagles (245 and 130) by 323 runs.
In mid-afternoon, Mid-West Rhinos completed a comprehensive victory over Mashonaland Eagles by 323 runs at Harare Sports Club, the largest runs victory they have achieved in their four-year history as a franchise.
The margin of victory was exacerbated by the negative batting policy of the home team, whose misguided efforts to play for a draw backfired badly upon them. Their fourth-innings total of 130 took them 61.2 dreary overs. The strong Mid-West Rhinos seam attack dominated them throughout, with Edward Rainsford and Neville Madziva taking three wickets each.
Overnight Mashonaland Eagles were 33 for one wicket, facing an almost impossible target of 454 to win, or alternatively to bat through the day for a draw. The basic choice of approach for their batsmen was whether to play their natural game or to concentrate entirely on achieving the draw. It was soon clear that they had chosen the latter policy, and even such a superb natural strokeplayer as Sikandar Raza Butt concentrated on dull defence.
The problem with this policy is that it is essentially negative and can too often be self-defeating: in this instance, it was decidedly so. Forster Mutizwa was the first batsman to go, having scored six runs off 32 balls, again failing to show his usual early-season form. Stuart Matsikenyeri began with some positive strokes, and then appeared to think better of it and went more into his shell, before falling for 22. In quick succession he was followed by Butt, an uncharacteristic 26 off 94 balls, and Prosper Utseya, which left Mashonaland Eagles reeling on 73 for five.
A strokeless Regis Chakabva and Tinotenda Mutombodzi held firm for a while, but then Edward Rainsford broke through, removing Mutombodzi and Nathan Waller in quick succession. Even with defeat inevitable, Chakabva still had few strokes to offer and finished with 21 not out off 92 balls. The last wicket was taken by Mike Chinouya, who bowled in this innings with the handicap of a strained arm and thus could not produce a fourth successive ‘five-fer’ in an innings.
Mid-West Rhinos now join the reigning champions, Matabeleland Tuskers, at the top of the Logan Cup log with two victories in two matches.
Mashonaland Eagles are the only team without a win so far, and they would do well to consider that if they have to lose, it would be better to go out in a blaze of glory and defiance rather than a tortuous muted whimper.