LOGAN CUP MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 2 (20 February 2013), at Mutare Sports Club
Close of play: Mountaineers (475/7 dec) v Matabeleland Tuskers (142/4)
A century from Timmy Maruma and some superb swing bowling from Shingi Masakadza have given Matabeleland Tuskers the hardest fight they have had in the Logan Cup all season. Despite a fighting innings from the consistent Hampshire professional Bilal Shafayat, Matabeleland Tuskers finished the day still 333 runs behind with six wickets left in their first innings.
The overnight pair of Maruma and Kudzai Sauramba continued batting at 302 for four for Mountaineers, showing due caution against the two top bowlers, Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube. However, they were again rather too laborious, as they had been the previous evening, scoring just 26 runs in the first hour. Maruma was the main culprit: he later said he was struggling for form but was determined not to throw his wicket away.
Sauramba reached his fifty off 108 balls when Maruma was still on 27. Now, though, Maruma gradually began to open up, even hitting a six over long-on off John Nyumbu. He reached his fifty, off 155 balls, off the last ball before lunch, when the score was 391 for four. 88 runs had been scored in the two-hour morning session.
After lunch, the instructions were to push for a declaration. Maruma responded by scoring 18 off the first two overs, overtaking Sauramba in the process. Sauramba, trying to copy him, was caught on the boundary for 62. There was a quick 21 from Shingi Masakadza as Maruma now aimed for a century. On 99, he lofted another six over long-on off the long-suffering Nyumbu and walked off with 105, his second fifty having taken only 41 balls. Altogether he faced 196 balls and his three fours and four sixes. The total was 475 for seven, the first time Mountaineers have passed 400 against Matabeleland Tuskers. Brad Staddon and Keith Dabengwa had two wickets each, while Querl and Ncube had gone for less than three runs an over.
Mountaineers did not open their bowling particularly well, and Terry Duffin, acting as captain with Gavin Ewing injured, took advantage of the loose deliveries by scoring 15 off his own bat in the first two overs. At the other end, however, Brian Chari fatally shouldered arms to his second delivery, from Masakadza, and lost his off stump as the ball swung in. Then Duffin (20 out of 22, including two extras) became too exuberant and sliced a catch off Masakadza into the slips, and Matabeleland Tuskers were off to a bad start. Keith Dabengwa and Bilal Shafayat hung on until tea, when the score was 40 for two.
The partnership continued usefully for about 45 minutes after tea until Dabengwa (19) dabbled outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket off Donald Tiripano; 65 for three. But Shafayat, very strong on the leg side, continued his consistent form for Matabeleland Tuskers and stayed there to thwart the bowlers. Just after the total reached 100 with three wickets down, he reached his fifty off 86 balls. Sean Williams dug in solidly at the other end and Mountaineers were unable to break through again.
The pair almost held out to the close, but Shafayat was mortified, off the penultimate ball of the day, to push a return catch back to Maruma. He made 67 off 129 balls, with eight fours, and it may just be that his dismissal is the turning point of this match, if Mountaineers win. Williams remains, with 27 to his account, and with Ewing missing Matabeleland Tuskers may struggle to avoid the follow-on.