by John Ward
Mashonaland Eagles v Matabeleland Tuskers
Logan Cup, Day 3, from Harare Sports Club,
Result: Matabeleland Tuskers (178 and 219) lost Mashonaland Eagles (527) by an innings and 130 runs.
At Harare Sports Club today, Mashonaland Eagles finished rather a disappointing season for them with an innings victory over their oldest rivals, Matabeleland Tuskers. It will be particularly satisfying for them after a recent history of defeats by the Bulawayo-based team. It must be remembered, though, that Matabeleland Tuskers were seriously weakened by the loss of their three most experienced players in this match, not to mention several other top-quality cricketers who did not play for them at all this season, for one reason or another. For Matabeleland, last season’s Logan Cup winners, this season was not far short of disastrous, and this is their third heavy Logan Cup defeat in a row.
One might have expected Mashonaland Eagles, almost 300 runs ahead on first innings overnight, to look to push the score along quickly and purposefully from their 472 for five wickets. Instead, most of their batsmen played without real purpose, and their last five wickets only added 55 runs in 20 overs. 39 of these came from Admire Manyumwa, and even he had long defensive periods punctuated with occasional bursts of energy, such as when he hit Steve Chimhamhiwa for three fours in an over.
The first hour belonged entirely to Matabeleland Tuskers. The two overnight batsmen both fell without addition in John Nyumbu’s first two overs: Tino Mutombodzi (46) cut the second ball of the day straight to point, while Elton Chigumbura popped up a bat-pad catch to forward short leg. Chigumbura’s 120 came off 187 balls and contained 11 fours.
After this, only Manyumwa, in uneven bursts, showed any inclination to score, and when he was last out, stumped, the total was 527. Mashonaland Eagles’ last five wickets all fell to Nyumbu at a cost of 22 runs; his full innings figures were five for 89, while Chimhamhiwa, expensive at times, took four for 138.
Matabeleland Tuskers went in again 349 runs behind, an almost hopeless position. Nkosana Mpofu and Tonny Mupariwa now had to face the bowling of Brian Vitori and Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa. They did well to survive nine overs until the lunch interval, taking the score to 27 without loss, 22 of them to Mpofu, who played the bowling on its merits with great skill. Vitori was not as threatening as in the first innings, although he still could produce a devastating delivery, while Gumunyu-Manatsa was the more consistent of the two. Matabeleland Tuskers had convincingly won a session at last – but were still light years behind.
Lunch seemed to disagree with Mpofu, as he played several flashy strokes at balls from both bowlers outside the off stump, before inevitably edging one from Gumunyu-Manatsa to the keeper, out for 23, the opening stand being worth 30. Brian Chari came in and raced to 17 off his first eight deliveries, including eleven in an over from the hitherto economical Gumunyu-Manatsa, but was then trapped lbw by a full-length ball from Vitori; 48 for two.
Vitori gave Mupariwa and the new batsman Titus Chipare a hard time with his often wild and short deliveries of real pace, and finally removed Chipare (12) driving a catch into the covers. Mupariwa fought long and hard for his team, taking several painful blows in the process, but his long innings came to an end on 31, off 86 balls, when he was trapped lbw by Tino Mutombodzi for 31, bringing the score to 120 for four, still 229 behind. They progressed to 127 for four at tea.
After the interval Godwill Mamhiyo played a bright innings of 35, attacking the bowling for 42 balls, before he drove a catch to mid-off off Mutombodzi. After this it was a steady slide of wickets as the inexperienced lower order made a few runs but could not last long against their much more experienced opponents. All the top eight batsmen in the order reached double figures; none of them passed 35, a common failing in Zimbabwean cricket this season.
At 4.15 p.m. the match was over, as John Nyumbu popped up a bat-pad catch off the bowling of Sikandar Raza, and Matabeleland Tuskers were all out for 219. It was an encouraging consolation for the winners, but for the losers a sad end to a hard season after losing the heart of their victorious team of the last three seasons. There were three wickets to Brian Vitori, who took eight in the match, and two each to Prosper Utseya, Mutombodzi and Raza.
The Mashonaland Eagles fielding was generally quite good, but Regis Chakabva, who after a hand injury has not kept wicket regularly, looked rusty with the gloves. He gave away 21 byes in the innings, although he had to keep to some very wild bowling at times from Vitori.