Logan Cup, Day 2 in Mutare: Matabeleland Tuskers 306; Mountaineers 294.
The match between Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers is still too close to call after two days, although Matabeleland Tuskers may claim a slight advantage in that they will not have to bat last on this pitch after gaining a slender first-innings lead of 12. Superb bowling by Chris Mpofu spearheaded the Matabeleland Tuskers’ bowling, and he finished with figures of five for 55 off 23 overs.
The second day looked likely to be a stern battle between Keegan Meth bowling for Matabeleland Tuskers and the batting of Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza. It didn’t quite work out like that, as Meth, who at the tea interval could not contain his frustration, was not quite at his best and bowled without luck until taking the final wicket. This time he had to bow to the other bowlers in his team, who made Mountaineers fight for runs all the way, even when wickets were not falling. Mawoyo scored only 13 and was the first batsman to go, clipping a low catch to midwicket off Chris Mpofu. Mpofu was the most impressive bowler of the day, slowing his pace and using his intelligence to adapt to the vagaries of the pitch, and he deserved his figures.
John Nyumbu also bowled very well, although at first Hamilton Masakadza tried to hit him out of the attack, smacking two leg-side sixes in an over. Masakadza and Bernard Mlambo survived until lunch, and when the score reached 113 with only one wicket down Mountaineers had a strong platform on which to build. Unfortunately for them the afternoon session saw them steadily lose this advantage, as the persistent Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers worked their way through the batting. Nyumbu, in successive overs, clean bowled Mlambo for 38 and Jethro Maudzi (1). He does not have an actual doosra but these were both splendidly disguised straight balls among deliveries that often turned sharply, and the batsmen totally failed to pick them.
Then Masakadza fell for 75, groping outside the off stump to a ball from Mpofu and edging to the keeper, a major blow for his team, as it always is. The next two batsmen were also bowled out, Timycen Maruma for 17 and Shingi Masakadza for 3; the bowler was Njabulo Ncube this time, who was helped by the pitch, as in both cases the ball jagged back in low and fast from outside the off stump before they could adjust to it. The pitch is certainly playing its part in this match and is likely to do so more than ever as time goes on.
The player to survive the afternoon slump was the immensely talented 18-year-old Kevin Kasuza, who played the bowling with great skill and maturity. However, he became stuck just short of his fifty, and finally played on to a ball from Mpofu for 46. At this point the score was 227 for seven. The wicketkeeper Benjy Katsande had shared a good stand with him of 55 and he continued to fight hard, but a wild swipe by Natsai Mushangwe cost him his wicket, Mpofu’s fifth of the innings. Silent Mujaji, however, gave him sterling support for the last wicket and scored 21 not out in a stand of 39. Katsande fell lbw to Meth for 45 in the final over of the day, leaving both teams with all to play for and a result very likely in this match.