LOGAN CUP MATCH: MID-WEST RHINOS v MASHONALAND EAGLES
Day 3 at Kwekwe Sports Club, 24 January 2013
Close of play: Mashonaland Eagles (166 and 170) lost to Mid-West Rhinos (279 and 58/1) by nine wickets.
Less than an hour into the afternoon session of the third day, Mid-West Rhinos won by nine wickets their Logan Cup match against a Mashonaland Eagles team that they dominated throughout.
Set a target of 58 runs, Vusimuzi Sibanda and Mark Vermeulen took Rhinos home in a hurry.
The rest of the Mashonaland Eagles second innings was as colourless and devoid of real confidence as it has been all season in the Logan Cup. The general pattern was for the batsmen to come in, play passively and without flair or ambition for a while, reach double figures and then eventually get out to a rather soft dismissal.
This is especially disappointing in the case of a batsman with the talent and natural flair of Sikandar Raza Butt, the first man out this morning after his team resumed on their overnight total of 84 for four. He made a forgettable 15 off 48 balls before he drove a ball from Graeme Cremer to short extra cover, and Mashonaland Eagles were 97 for five.
Another wicket did not fall until the arrears had been wiped out – the captain Stuart Matsikenyeri being the next to go after spending nearly two hours over his 18 runs off 69 balls. He was bowled by a superb ball from Edward Rainsford that came back and clipped the off bail. It was the ball after Rainsford had been enraged when a close leg-before-wicket appeal had been rejected.
Matsikenyeri is another with the talent to do great things, but it is a talent which, sadly, has been in abeyance for most of this season.
The last few batsmen did show some positive intent, especially Nathan Waller, who was second top scorer with 28 off 30 balls. Of the others, only Chamunorwa Chibhabha had reached 20. The passive batting and shattered confidence of the top order is the main reason for his team’s dismal Logan Cup record this season. Cremer, wheeling away from the north end of the ground for most of the innings, took five for 64, always attacking and willing to concede runs to get a wicket – but the visiting batsmen did not challenge him much. Richard Muzhange finished off the innings for 170 on the stroke of lunch, taking the last three wickets in six balls.
Perhaps remembering how Mountaineers earlier in the season were all out for 26 when needing only 64 to beat Southern Rocks, Mid-West Rhinos were wary at the start of their innings.
They had 17 on the board when Innocent Chinyoka brought a ball back in enough to win an lbw decision against Jaik Mickleburgh (8). Mark Vermeulen was uninhibited, hammering Nathan Waller for two fours and a two off successive deliveries, while Sibanda responded by swinging a delivery from Prosper Utseya over the midwicket boundary. He then finished the match in a hurry, scoring the final 13 runs off five balls from Tinotenda Mutombodzi.
It was a fine victory by Mid-West Rhinos, but another unimpressive defeat for Mashonaland Eagles, who have now lost all five of their Logan Cup matches and seem to expect no better.
For Mid-West Rhinos, it is also fortuitous, in that Matabeleland Tuskers, at the head of the Logan Cup table, had their match against Southern Rocks rained off so Rhinos are now only six points behind them on the table.
Both teams have three matches to play: Matabeleland Tuskers are in pole position, but Mid-West Rhinos are well placed to take advantage if the Bulawayo team should slip up – or have their match washed out again.
In truth, Mid-West Rhinos do not appear to have the depth in their team this season to be Logan Cup champions, but strange things can happen.