LOGAN CUP MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v MOUNTAINEERS
Day 1 at Harare Sports Club(26 February 2013)
Close of play: Mashonaland Eagles (222) v Mountaineers (57/1).
Mashonaland Eagles showed why they are at the bottom of the Logan Cup table with a poor batting performance against Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club. Their total of 222 would have been much worse had it not been for a fine innings of 82 by Sikandar Raza, but most of the batsmen threw their wickets away for soft dismissals off ill-judged strokes, when a much higher total should have been achieved. The main beneficiaries among the Mountaineers bowlers were Shingi Masakadza and Tapiwa Mufudza, who took four wickets each. Mountaineers made a useful start in reply, finishing at 57 for one.
On a warm and generally sunny day, Mountaineers won the toss and put Mashonaland Eagles in to bat. They were to find more help from the batsmen than the pitch, which was greenish and gave the seamers a little movement. Keith Kondo edged the first ball of the match, from Shingi Masakadza, just short of first slip. There was yet another opening pair for the home side, with Simba Gupo opening with Kondo this time. They put on only 14 together before Gupo (6) gloved a lifting ball from Donald Tiripano to the keeper.
Raza came in next and batted with enterprise, while Kondo was very defensive, taking 58 balls to score 11 runs before poking at a ball from Tiripano outside the off stump and edging it to the keeper; 51 for two. Stuart Matsikenyeri joined Raza and they took the score to 75 for two at lunch, of which Raza had 45.
Raza’s fifty came shortly after the interval, off 70 balls. He lost Matsikenyeri for 21, as the captain drove loosely at a ball from Masakadza that was outside the off stump, with no footwork, to be caught at first slip. Two balls later Remembrance Nyathi shouldered arms, pushed out his pad, but was still bowled by a ball that moved back in. The score was now 94 for four.
This did not worry Raza, who played some superb strokes, being particularly strong on the pull and the cut when the bowlers pitched short. In this form he looks a class above most batsmen, and especially today when so many of his teammates threw their wickets away so weakly. Forster Mutizwa played himself in, but then, strangely for a batsman just trying to recover from a dismal season, went on the attack, hit a ball from Tapiwa Mufudza straight for six, and in the same over was caught for 14 off a huge skier when he miscued a pull. 137 for five.
Sadly Raza was to join the list of batsmen to throw his wicket away when he looked set for what would have been a superb century. He too aimed a great heave across the line off Mufudza, only to be bowled for 82. It came off 106 balls and contained 13 fours. This left Mashonaland Eagles reeling on 140 for six. By tea, though, Nathan Waller and Mark Mbofana had taken the score to 187 for six, with Waller hitting three sixes – which would have entertained the spectators, had there been any. Once again the stands at Zimbabwe’s premier cricket ground were deserted at a Mashonaland Eagles home match.
The improvement did not last, as Masakadza trapped Waller lbw with the first ball after the interval. Mbofana batted steadily for 39 not out, but the tail did not give him much support. Mufudza picked up the last two wickets off successive balls, both off lofted drives, and the innings closed for 222. Mufudza finished with four for 37, but on the whole the best bowling was done by Masakadza, who took four for 58.
After a cautious start, Dan Hodgson and Greg Lamb began taking advantage of the width offered by the Mashonaland Eagles seamers, until Lamb (14) miscued and was caught at backward point. Hodgson batted with more aggression than he often shows, and finished the day unbeaten with 28 of the total of 57 for one. His partner was Kevin Kasuza, with 11.