This week’s matches (Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 December):
At Harare Sports Club: Mashonaland Eagles v Mountaineers;
At Kwekwe: Mid-West Rhinos v Southern Rocks.
The Pro50 matches are played on Wednesday and the Twenty20 matches on Thursday morning, all starting times 0930 hours.
Rain, as feared, interferred with the matches between hosts Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles at Masvingo Sports Club, over the weekend.
The Pro50 match was at least started, but in vain. The T20 match was totally abandoned. Mashonaland Eagles were affected by this, as Southern Rocks are basically out of both competitions. Had they won the Pro50, Eagles would have topped the table at the expense of Mid-West Rhinos, who had a bye. They were unable to maintain their 100 per cent record in the T20, thanks to the rain, and so missed out on two possible points.
In Mutare there were two quite close and interesting matches between Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers.
Tuskers won the rain-affected Pro50 on Duckworth-Lewis, while Mountaineers struck back with victory in the T20.
A notable feature was Shingirai Masakadza’s return of six for 16 in the T20, the fifth-best analysis ever recorded in that format of the game, where bowlers are restricted to four overs each – the record is six for five. Masakadza’s haul included the last four Tuskers wickets in five balls, but without a hat-trick, although it must be admitted that Mountaineers had already virtually won the match at that stage.
The two competitions, played by each franchise on consecutive days, make interesting reading.
The Pro50 is wide open, with only Southern Rocks out of the reckoning. Mid-West Rhinos are still favourites to win, topping the table with 14 points from four matches, and have a game in hand over all their opponents. Should they slip up, though, they have Matabeleland Tuskers and Mashonaland Eagles close behind them on 13 points from five games, as Mountaineers lost ground when they lost to Tuskers on Saturday. They are not out of it yet, though, as they have 10 points.
In contrast, the T20 is almost certainly a two-horse race now. Mashonaland Eagles have 20 points, Mountaineers have 18, and third is Southern Rocks with six.
So the clash between the top two at Harare Sports Club on Thursday will be of particular interest and may well decide the eventual outcome of the competition, especially if Mashonaland Eagles, unbeaten and two points ahead, should win. Mountaineers must also win the Pro50 match if they are to keep alive their chances in that competition.
At Kwekwe, Southern Rocks have only pride to play for: they have won two Logan Cup matches, but have won only one out of 10 one-day matches so far. And yet the one-day game was thought to be their stronger suit. Mid-West Rhinos also have no realistic chance of winning the T20 tournament, but will be very eager to win the Pro50 match to ensure they stay on top of the table.
The matches to watch are at Kwekwe Sports Club on Wednesday and Harare Sports Club on Thursday. If the rain keeps away!