Logan Cup, Day 4 in Mutare: Matabeleland Tuskers beat Mountaineers by 106 runs.
Mountaineers looked like a team devoid of confidence as they slumped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Matabeleland Tuskers with scarcely a fight. Apart from Shingi Masakadza, who fought a lone battle, the team that had such a marvellous Logan Cup record last season were dismissed for 92 runs in their second innings, chasing only 199 to win. The Matabeleland Tuskers seam battery did a fine job, spearheaded by Chris Mpofu, who took four for 40, taking his total for the match to nine. Keegan Meth, back to his economical best, took three for 19 in 14 overs.
Overnight Mountaineers were 40 for four wickets, and their two international batsmen, Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza, were among those dismissed, so their chances of victory on a difficult pitch looked slim. From the start they played like a team without hope, scarcely offering an attacking stroke against the determined pace bowling of Matabeleland Tuskers. Timycen Maruma, the captain, was particularly disappointing, as he is so often a fighter in such circumstances, but on this occasion he had little to offer. After almost an hour at the crease for just 10 runs, he unwisely shouldered arms to a ball from Chris Mpofu that came back and bowled him.
Ten runs came in the first hour and the procession continued. The night-watchman Silent Mujaji did the best he could, until he was stumped for 5 off 69 balls in 94 minutes. But it was the responsibility of his more capable partners to take the initiative, and with the exception of Shingi Masakadza they failed badly. Shingi, always a fighter when the situation is difficult, played a positive and determined innings of 29 off 45 balls, before a ball from Mpofu had him fending a catch to mid-on. Otherwise the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had things all their own way, as the other home batsmen could offer nothing more than timid defence.
It would appear that their unexpected defeats in last year’s three domestic competitions, for which they were favourites, and especially the Logan Cup final to this Matabeleland Tuskers team, has shattered the confidence of the Mountaineers players. Their coach Gary Brent strongly praised their wonderful attitude throughout pre-season practice, but if the vital ingredient of confidence is missing, this will all be in vain. Mountaineers have the skills and dedication to succeed, even to win the Logan Cup, but before that can happen, they need to repair their wounded spirits.