This week’s Logan Cup matches: (Tuesday 19 to Friday 22 February) At Mutare Sports Club: Mountaineers v Matabeleland Tuskers At Masvingo Sports Club: Southern Rocks v Mashonaland Eagles Starting time: 1000 hours
The Logan Cup champions this season will be either Matabeleland Tuskers or Mountaineers.
With six matches gone and two to go, Matabeleland Tuskers have five victories and 35 points, while Mountaineers have four wins and 28 points.
Intriguingly, these two teams meet at Mutare Sports Club this week. If Matabeleland Tuskers win, they will clinch the Logan Cup, while a draw would also make them likely, although not certain, champions. If Mountaineers win, and also take the first-innings point, the two teams will go into the final round level on points, Matabeleland Tuskers to play Southern Rocks and Mountaineers Mashonaland Eagles – the two weakest teams in the competition.
Both are missing their top players who are away on the West Indies tour.
Mountaineers have lost Hamilton Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Tendai Chatara and Natsai M’shangwe. Matabeleland Tuskers are without two of their four-pronged pace attack in Keegan Meth and Christopher Mpofu, and also Craig Ervine, while Sean Ervine is with the Indian Premier League.
Matabeleland Tuskers have the stronger reserves, though, as they showed when they overwhelmed the even more seriously depleted Mid-West Rhinos by an innings last week, and they will be favourites in this match. But it will be hard fought, as matches between these two invariably are since the Logan Cup final two years ago, when Mountaineers headed the table by a long way, only to go down in the now discontinued final between first and second placed teams.
The key figures will perhaps be Matabeleland Tuskers’ two remaining pacemen: Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube, both of whom may well also have gone to the West Indies. If the Mountaineers batsmen can see off those two, they will find the back-up bowlers easier to handle.
Matabeleland Tuskers have most of their main batsmen still available, though, and it will be interesting to see how the new Mountaineers off-spin bowler, Tafadzwa Mufudza, manages the challenge.
The two bottom sides, Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles, play each other in Masvingo, and this should also be an interesting match, especially as the home side gained their first-ever Logan Cup victory against the same opposition in Harare at the start of the season. Both teams will be desperate for a victory, but Mashonaland Eagles probably have more depth – if they can play up to it.
LOGAN CUP: MATABELELAND TUSKERS VERSUS MID-WEST RHINOS
Day Four at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, Friday 08 February, 2013 Result: Matabeleland Tuskers (406/9 dec) beat Mid-West Rhinos (179 & 123) by an innings and 104 runs
Rhinos produced a spectacular batting collapse to hand Tuskers victory by an innings and 104 runs on the final day of their Logan Cup match at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Having lost close to a day and a half due to rain, a draw seemed the obvious outcome going into day four.
Resuming on 143 for five overnight, Rhinos were firmly on the back foot as they seemed more worried about Glen Querl’s bowling action than occupying the crease. They rapidly lost their remaining five wickets for 36 runs.
There was a delay to the follow-on as the Rhinos refused to face up to Querl, claiming his action was in violation of the laws of the gentlemen’s game.
After much deliberation, play got underway and Querl was soon amongst the wickets. Strike partner Njabulo Ncube picked up one wicket before pulling up with a suspected hamstring injury. Bradley Staddon took up the attack and picked up three quick wickets, leaving the visitors facing straight down the barrel.
Nathan Mayavo (37) and Simon Mugava (28) put on 59 for the seventh wicket before John Nyumbu removed both of them in quick succession. The tail showed some resistance, but a Tuskers’ victory was inevitable.
Mid-West Rhinos were eventually all out for 123 runs, to hand Tuskers victory by an innings and 104 runs.