by John Ward at Mutare Sports Club
Close of play, Day 3: Mountaineers (402 and 301/3) v Southern Rocks (247)
The powerful Mountaineers team has won the Logan Cup competition for the first time with a full round of matches still to go.
They took the necessary point off Southern Rocks for a first-innings lead and then, batting again, piled on the runs against a weak attack bereft of Tinashe Panyangara, its only bowler of class. He injured the toes on his left foot. In the process of the Mountaineers batting, Hamilton Masakadza hit his second century of the match, and the hosts will expect to complete a sizable outright victory tomorrow.
There was quite an exciting battle as Southern Rocks struggled to save the possibility of the follow-on.
They began the day on 186 for seven in their first innings, still 216 runs behind the Mountaineers’ total and needing 67 more to avoid the chance of being forced to follow on. Tendai Chisoro, on nine overnight, looked belligerent from the start, but he quickly lost his overnight partner Tinashe Panyangara, adjudged leg before wicket for two, playing forward to a ball from Donald Tiripano.
Tafadzwa Kamungozi was dropped in the slips off Tiripano when he had five, and this nearly proved a costly error for Mountaineers. Kamungozi celebrated his escape by pulling Shingirai Masakadza for a six and a four, and for a while he and Chisoro flourished, putting on 51 together.
Then came the second new ball, and immediately Tatenda Mupunga did the job. Kamungozi, on 24, tried to pull a short ball but only skied it to mid-on. The last pair needed to add 12, but they only managed six before Tiripano broke through Joseph Musorosekwa’s defence and knocked out his off stump.
The innings thus closed for 247, six runs short, but in the end it was hypothetical as Mountaineers rather unexpectedly decided to bat again, ignoring the possibility of rain. Mupunga finished the innings with four wickets for 61 runs, while Shingirai Masakadza had three.
Mountaineers went in to bat again with a lead of 155. Without a run on the board Kevin Kasuza enjoyed a life, dropped overhead at second slip off Luke Jongwe.
At lunch the score was 18 without loss after seven overs.
The batsmen took the score to 30 before Kasuza drove loosely at a ball from Jongwe, to be caught at the wicket for 10. Jongwe and Musorosekwa, without Panyangara to lead them, did a fair job, but did not test the batsmen, who in turn were content to cruise rather than dominate.
The rest of the afternoon was spent by Tinotenda Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza getting some pleasant batting practice against undemanding bowling. At tea the score was 119, with Mawoyo having just reached his fifty off 106 balls, and Masakadza almost there on 48. There was little intensity in the play now, both sides apparently accepting the state of affairs and allowing the match to take its natural course.
Immediately after tea, Masakadza reached his fifty off 78 balls. At 175, though, Mawoyo’s innings ended on 79, as he edged a ball from Roy Kaia to the wicketkeeper. With Forster Mutizwa as his new partner, Masakadza proceeded to his second century of the match and 20th of his first-class career, and perhaps the easiest of them. It came off 144 balls.
It might have been a good time to declare, with 10 overs remaining for play and almost 400 runs ahead, as Southern Rocks showed in Harare that, weak as they are, it is possible for them to bat through a complete day’s play. By the end of this day, runs were being compiled so easily that it was almost farcical.
Masakadza was scoring off virtually every ball, and it may have done Mutizwa some good to score an easy fifty off 71 balls in the middle.
In the final over, with his score at 146, Masakadza slogged wildly at a ball from Jongwe and dragged it on to his stumps. He had faced 171 balls and hit 13 fours and three sixes.
The score was 301 for three wickets – a lead of 456. A belated overnight declaration would appear certain.