LOGAN CUP MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 1 at Mutare Sports Club: 19 February 2013
Close of play: Mountaineers (302/4) v Matabeleland Tuskers.
The weather was beautifully warm and sunny, and the pitch was quite flat, ideal conditions for a batting team.
This happened to be Mountaineers, who took advantage of Matabeleland Tuskers’ weakened attack to run up over 300 runs for the loss of only four wickets, the highlight being a dominating century by Gregory Lamb. They could have done better still, but failed to take control in the final session against a tiring bowling attack.
Matabeleland Tuskers have two outstanding new-ball bowlers in Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube, and the Mountaineers’ tactics were clearly to see off these two and then climb in against the other bowlers, occupying the crease for as long as was reasonably possible. The first nine overs cost 16 runs, with Lamb promoted to open the batting with Dan Hodgson. But they achieved their aim, surviving the new-ball assault, and then Lamb began to open up.
The opening pair put on 42 before, in the 19th over, Hodgson sliced a catch to backward point off the medium-pacer Bradley Staddon. With Kevin Kasuza as his new partner, Lamb continued to play a fine innings, with good shot selection, respecting the good ball but taking advantage of anything loose. He scored 12 off an over from Staddon to bring up his fifty off 82 balls. Mountaineers were 81 for one at lunch, of which Lamb had 55.
The batsmen continued to take advantage of the second-string bowlers during the afternoon session.
Kasuza, playing an excellent supporting role, reached 50 off 92 balls, while Lamb’s century soon followed off 141. During the partnership, Matabeleland Tuskers lost their injury-prone captain, Gavin Ewing, suffering from mild concussion after a fall attempting a near-impossible overhead catch at midwicket.
Lamb and Kasuza put on 184 for the second wicket before the latter, trying to turn a straight ball to leg, fell leg-before-wicket to Querl for 66.
At tea the score was 213 for two, Lamb on 129.
Lamb eventually fell for 157 off 196 balls, with 20 fours and a six, after showing signs of losing concentration. He drove over a low full toss from Staddon and got a bottom edge on to his stumps. The score was now 257 for three.
Lamb’s dismissal slowed the scoring rate right down to below two an over, with Mark Pettini and Timycen Maruma both batting very doggedly. Finally Pettini (35 off 81 balls) drove a catch into the covers off Ncube, off the first delivery with the second new ball. The score was now 283 for four.
Maruma (12 off 67 balls) and Kudzai Sauramba (13) saw out the day undefeated, at the rate of two runs an over.
Mountaineers were rather disappointing after the dismissal of Pettini, as they never attempted to take advantage of the tired attack, for whom Querl – virtually a workhorse – bowled 29 overs for 63 runs and a wicket.
A victory is very important for Mountaineers who are behind Matabeleland Tuskers on the Logan Cup table. Even a draw will make their task very difficult, so they would have been wise to look for more than 89 runs in the final session.