Zimbabwe takes on the West Indies in a One-Day International (ODI) match at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada today at 13:30 GMT | 15:30 CAT.
A full house is expected for the match as the incoming New National Party government has declared today a national holiday to celebrate its return to power.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor will be hoping to repeat for Zimbabwe the sort of performances with the bat that he put up for the Chittagong Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Asked in a pre-match news conference yesterday what the absence of key West Indies players captain Darren Sammy and former captain Chris Gayle – rested – and Marlon Samuels – injured – meant for Zimbabwe, Taylor said as much as they would have wanted to exploit the absence of the trio, they would not celebrate as they are aware of the depth of talent that the hosts have.
Today’s match is the first of three ODIs that will be played at the Chinese-built facility. The second match will be on Sunday at 13:30 GMT | 15:30 CAT and the third and final one on Tuesday at 13:30 GMT | 15:30 CAT.
The next day, the tour will move to Antigua for two Twenty20 International matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and the match starts at 18:00 GMT | 20:00 CAT, before going to Barbados where a three-day warm-up match will mark the transition to the long-version of the game.
The first Test against hosts West Indies will be at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, starting on the 12th of next month at 14:00 GMT | 10:00 CAT. The tour’s last port of call is Windsor Park in Dominica where the second Test match is scheduled to be played from the 20th to the 24th of next month and the Test starts at 14:00 GMT | 10:00 CAT.
Zimbabwe will then return home for a brief period of rest and practice before they host the Tigers of Bangladesh.
LOGAN CUP MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 3 (21 February 2013), at Mutare Sports Club
Close of play: Mountaineers (475/7 dec) v Matabeleland Tuskers (298 and [following on] 42/3).
The reigning Logan Cup champions and current table-leaders Matabeleland Tuskers, who have ridden roughshod over all the other franchises so far this season, are now facing the strong possibility of their first defeat at the end of the third day’s play at Mutare Sports Club. Mountaineers put in a sound all-round performance, yet the highlight of the day was actually a remarkable innings of 65 by the Matabeleland Tuskers last man, John Nyumbu.
The weather had changed on the third morning, and most of the day was overcast, with a shower of rain before the start of play. The pitch, although still basically flat, was rather difficult for batsmen to score quickly on from accurate bowling, according to the Matabeleland Tuskers coach Heath Streak, and his batsmen did not handle it well. For most of the morning session they showed little of the fight that should be expected from the champions and there were too many soft dismissals.
Sean Williams, the one remaining specialist batsman, never looked confident; he survived an easy catch in the covers early on, and then flashed at a ball from Timmy Maruma to be caught at slip for 30. Gavin Ewing, the injured captain, came in, but retired on 8 as he started feeling groggy again. At 169 for eight, therefore, the last man Nyumbu joined Njabulo Ncube, and the two proceeded to show their seniors in the batting order how to do the job.
They played themselves in sensibly, and then started hitting the loose deliveries, lasting until lunch and putting on 54 together before Ncube was trapped lbw by Calum Price for 22. This gave Ewing enough time to recover and he joined Nyumbu at the crease at 223 for nine. He batted within himself, with due regard for his health, while Nyumbu, whose previous highest score in first-class cricket was 45, went on to reach a remarkable 65 off 113 balls, before falling lbw to Maruma. Ewing finished unbeaten on 43, the last pair having put on 75 runs and the last two wickets 129. The deficit, however, was still 177. Masakadza finished with four for 71 and Maruma four for 65.
Mountaineers enforced the follow-on, and quickly dismissed the unfortunate Brian Chari for a pair through a freak dismissal. Chari drove hard back down the pitch, the ball hitting the bowler, Price, on the leg and then ricocheting out into the covers, where it was caught. Terry Duffin and Keith Dabengwa, however, played themselves in with great care, and the score had reached 15 for one off eight overs when a sudden shower of rain hit the ground.
50 minutes’ play was lost, and soon after the resumption Donald Tiripano had Dabengwa caught in the slips for 7; 21 for two. After 37 minutes, however, the rain returned, with the score 38 for two. Play started again at 5.30, but in poor light and on a damp field. Mountaineers reverted to their spinners, and they lost Duffin, shouldering arms to be bowled for 20 by a ball from Greg Lamb that may well have pitched in the rough of the bowlers’ footmarks. Nyumbu, after his earlier batting triumphs, came in as night-watchman to join Shafayat.
Matabeleland Tuskers now face a difficult task on the final day to stave off their first defeat of the season, still 135 runs behind with only seven wickets left, but they could be saved by the weather. A Mountaineers victory would open up the Logan Cup competition wonderfully, as the two teams would then be equal on points with one match to play, a thrilling finish to the first-class season.
LOGAN CUP MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 2 (20 February 2013), at Mutare Sports Club
Close of play: Mountaineers (475/7 dec) v Matabeleland Tuskers (142/4)
A century from Timmy Maruma and some superb swing bowling from Shingi Masakadza have given Matabeleland Tuskers the hardest fight they have had in the Logan Cup all season. Despite a fighting innings from the consistent Hampshire professional Bilal Shafayat, Matabeleland Tuskers finished the day still 333 runs behind with six wickets left in their first innings.
The overnight pair of Maruma and Kudzai Sauramba continued batting at 302 for four for Mountaineers, showing due caution against the two top bowlers, Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube. However, they were again rather too laborious, as they had been the previous evening, scoring just 26 runs in the first hour. Maruma was the main culprit: he later said he was struggling for form but was determined not to throw his wicket away.
Sauramba reached his fifty off 108 balls when Maruma was still on 27. Now, though, Maruma gradually began to open up, even hitting a six over long-on off John Nyumbu. He reached his fifty, off 155 balls, off the last ball before lunch, when the score was 391 for four. 88 runs had been scored in the two-hour morning session.
After lunch, the instructions were to push for a declaration. Maruma responded by scoring 18 off the first two overs, overtaking Sauramba in the process. Sauramba, trying to copy him, was caught on the boundary for 62. There was a quick 21 from Shingi Masakadza as Maruma now aimed for a century. On 99, he lofted another six over long-on off the long-suffering Nyumbu and walked off with 105, his second fifty having taken only 41 balls. Altogether he faced 196 balls and his three fours and four sixes. The total was 475 for seven, the first time Mountaineers have passed 400 against Matabeleland Tuskers. Brad Staddon and Keith Dabengwa had two wickets each, while Querl and Ncube had gone for less than three runs an over.
Mountaineers did not open their bowling particularly well, and Terry Duffin, acting as captain with Gavin Ewing injured, took advantage of the loose deliveries by scoring 15 off his own bat in the first two overs. At the other end, however, Brian Chari fatally shouldered arms to his second delivery, from Masakadza, and lost his off stump as the ball swung in. Then Duffin (20 out of 22, including two extras) became too exuberant and sliced a catch off Masakadza into the slips, and Matabeleland Tuskers were off to a bad start. Keith Dabengwa and Bilal Shafayat hung on until tea, when the score was 40 for two.
The partnership continued usefully for about 45 minutes after tea until Dabengwa (19) dabbled outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket off Donald Tiripano; 65 for three. But Shafayat, very strong on the leg side, continued his consistent form for Matabeleland Tuskers and stayed there to thwart the bowlers. Just after the total reached 100 with three wickets down, he reached his fifty off 86 balls. Sean Williams dug in solidly at the other end and Mountaineers were unable to break through again.
The pair almost held out to the close, but Shafayat was mortified, off the penultimate ball of the day, to push a return catch back to Maruma. He made 67 off 129 balls, with eight fours, and it may just be that his dismissal is the turning point of this match, if Mountaineers win. Williams remains, with 27 to his account, and with Ewing missing Matabeleland Tuskers may struggle to avoid the follow-on.
LOGAN CUP MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
Day 1 at Mutare Sports Club: 19 February 2013 Close of play: Mountaineers (302/4) v Matabeleland Tuskers.
The weather was beautifully warm and sunny, and the pitch was quite flat, ideal conditions for a batting team.
This happened to be Mountaineers, who took advantage of Matabeleland Tuskers’ weakened attack to run up over 300 runs for the loss of only four wickets, the highlight being a dominating century by Gregory Lamb. They could have done better still, but failed to take control in the final session against a tiring bowling attack.
Matabeleland Tuskers have two outstanding new-ball bowlers in Glenn Querl and Njabulo Ncube, and the Mountaineers’ tactics were clearly to see off these two and then climb in against the other bowlers, occupying the crease for as long as was reasonably possible. The first nine overs cost 16 runs, with Lamb promoted to open the batting with Dan Hodgson. But they achieved their aim, surviving the new-ball assault, and then Lamb began to open up.
The opening pair put on 42 before, in the 19th over, Hodgson sliced a catch to backward point off the medium-pacer Bradley Staddon. With Kevin Kasuza as his new partner, Lamb continued to play a fine innings, with good shot selection, respecting the good ball but taking advantage of anything loose. He scored 12 off an over from Staddon to bring up his fifty off 82 balls. Mountaineers were 81 for one at lunch, of which Lamb had 55.
The batsmen continued to take advantage of the second-string bowlers during the afternoon session.
Kasuza, playing an excellent supporting role, reached 50 off 92 balls, while Lamb’s century soon followed off 141. During the partnership, Matabeleland Tuskers lost their injury-prone captain, Gavin Ewing, suffering from mild concussion after a fall attempting a near-impossible overhead catch at midwicket.
Lamb and Kasuza put on 184 for the second wicket before the latter, trying to turn a straight ball to leg, fell leg-before-wicket to Querl for 66.
At tea the score was 213 for two, Lamb on 129.
Lamb eventually fell for 157 off 196 balls, with 20 fours and a six, after showing signs of losing concentration. He drove over a low full toss from Staddon and got a bottom edge on to his stumps. The score was now 257 for three.
Lamb’s dismissal slowed the scoring rate right down to below two an over, with Mark Pettini and Timycen Maruma both batting very doggedly. Finally Pettini (35 off 81 balls) drove a catch into the covers off Ncube, off the first delivery with the second new ball. The score was now 283 for four.
Maruma (12 off 67 balls) and Kudzai Sauramba (13) saw out the day undefeated, at the rate of two runs an over.
Mountaineers were rather disappointing after the dismissal of Pettini, as they never attempted to take advantage of the tired attack, for whom Querl – virtually a workhorse – bowled 29 overs for 63 runs and a wicket.
A victory is very important for Mountaineers who are behind Matabeleland Tuskers on the Logan Cup table. Even a draw will make their task very difficult, so they would have been wise to look for more than 89 runs in the final session.