by John Ward at Mutare Sports Club
Close of play, Day 2: Mountaineers (402) v Southern Rocks (186/7)
Only a major catastrophe can surely now prevent Mountaineers on Thursday morning from ensuring they win the Logan Cup title for the first time.
They continued to dominate their match with Southern Rocks, and at the close of play were 216 runs ahead, with only three more wickets to take to get the vital first-innings point.
Mountaineers resumed at their overnight score of 308 for three wickets – a potentially powerful position. Unexpectedly, they were bowled out before lunch, with the Southern Rocks bowlers putting up a much better performance, together with perhaps a little complacency by some of the Mountaineers batsmen.
Southern Rocks took the new ball immediately, their pacemen having been too tired yesterday evening after a long day in the sun to do it justice, so it had wisely been deferred. Joseph Musorosekwa bowled the first over with it, had his second ball cut for four by Foster Mutizwa, and then trapped him leg before wicket (lbw) playing forward with the next delivery. He made 16.
Timycen Maruma, 34 overnight, reached his fifty with successive hits for four, four and two off Musorosekwa, but the bowler held his nerve and had his tormentor caught at second slip in his next over, for 53. Kudzai Sauramba played some aggressive strokes, including a six over the scorers’ box, but drilled a catch straight to mid-off and departed for 25. Tafadzwa Kamungozi produced a fine delivery to bowl Shingirai Masakadza for 11, while Natsai Mushangwe, who is making a name for himself nowadays as a powerful tail-end hitter, hit two sixes and two fours in scoring 26 off 25 balls before being last out, just before lunch.
The last three wickets all fell at 402. Musorosekwa and Tendai Chisoro reaped the rewards for better bowling with three wickets each, with two to Kamungozi. Tinashe Panyangara, who had laboured without support yesterday, had to be content with one wicket. His 30 overs cost only 57 runs, while none of the other bowlers managed an economy rate of below three.
Southern Rocks did not make a terribly confident start, but Bernard Mlambo and Kudzai Maunze hung in there and managed to put on 40 before Mlambo was caught in the slips off Tatenda Mupunga for 16. Tafadzwa Tsiga, surprisingly promoted in the order, was quickly gone, caught at the wicket off Shingirai Masakadza, making the score 41 for two. Before the forties were out, Maunze (18) pulled a ball from Mupunga low but straight to square leg, where it was well held by Maruma.
Mountaineers closed in for the kill, eager to secure the one point for first-innings lead that would guarantee them the Logan Cup and making a barrage of noise about it all. Richmond Mutumbami and Roy Kaia stayed together safely until tea, however, when the score was 62 for three.
After tea, Mutumbami decided to take charge, attacking the bowling without ever really appearing to be in a hurry. Mupunga had been bowling superbly, accurate and moving the ball either way off the pitch, but Mutumbami hit him out of the attack with three fours in an over, while Mushangwe also suffered at his hands. A superb back-foot drive to the cover boundary off Donald Tiripano brought up the team hundred, and a skilful dab for his tenth four, backward of point off Shingirai Masakadza, took him to 53 off the same number of balls. Soon after that, however, Masakadza broke through Kaia’s defence and removed him lbw for 17: 117 for three.
Masakadza continued with his good bowling and his next victim was Luke Jongwe, yorked for seven. Charles Kunje stayed in a while to support Mutumbami, who was unfortunately not destined to reach a century. Attempting a big hit off Mupunga, he skied a catch to mid-off and departed for 83, scored off 98 balls with 15 fours: 155 for six, with 253 needed to avoid the follow-on.
A stubborn stand between Kunje and Tendai Chisoro added 29 in almost 12 overs before Kunje, whose 27 was his highest first-class score, edged to slip off Mushangwe.
The day finished with fielders surrounding the bat, but Chisoro (9) and Panyangara (0) survived.
However tomorrow, barring extraordinary events, it should be only a matter of time.