Mountaineers Clinch 2016/17 Championship
Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 231 & 312-8 declared in 97 overs (Kudzai Maunze 150*, Trevor Garwe 32, Simbarashe Gupo 26; Clive Chitumba 4/38, Shingi Masakadza 2/49, Tafadzwa Kamungozi 1/32)
Manicaland Mountaineers – 281 & 168-3 in 58 overs (Forster Mutizwa 79, Kudzai Sauramba 39*, Tino Mawoyo 26; Kudzai Maunze 1/21, Trevor Garwe 1/33, Herbert Chikomba 1/37)
Manicaland Mountaineers are the Logan Cup champions for the 2016/17 season.
Led by a masterly innings of 79 from Foster Mutizwa, batting at his favourite number three position again, they comfortably forced a draw with Harare Metropolitan Eagles at Old Hararians today, which was enough to ensure they finish the season at the top of the table.
Both teams receive two points for a draw, and Mountaineers another for leading on the first innings.
This therefore gives Mountaineers a total of 31 points and Eagles 20, an unbeatable lead for the new champions.
Eagles began the final day with a second-innings score of 266 for six wickets and a lead of 216, with Kudzai Maunze on 128 and Trevor Garwe on 31, the pair resuming a partnership that had already added 91 runs to the total.
The pair only added three more runs, as Garwe (32) drove a ball from Shingi Masakadza uppishly into the covers for a catch, the seventh wicket falling at 269.
Herbert Chikomba scored a single before he too drove Masakadza into the covers for a low catch, at 273 for eight.
Maunze and Tanyaradzwa Munyaradzi kept the runs ticking over steadily in singles as Mountaineers set several deep fielders to try to slow the scoring rate.
The batsmen might have pursued the runs more urgently with a declaration in mind, but they seemed rather too content to push for ones and twos, cutting into the time their bowlers would have to bowl out the visitors.
Chigumbura was waiting for Maunze to reach 150 before they declared, and he took his time over it, but eventually reached the landmark with a quick single.
He faced 242 balls during his outstanding innings, with 12 fours and three sixes.
Munyaradzi was unbeaten with 17, and the total 312 for eight wickets declared, leaving Mountaineers 263 to win in a minimum of 75 overs.
A scoring rate of almost four an over on an unreliable pitch and heavy outfield meant that Mountaineers would probably be willing to settle for a draw, particularly as that would be enough to secure them the Logan Cup.
However, that was not the initial impression, as Roy Kaia slashed the second ball of the innings, short and well outside the off stump from Garwe, over the cover boundary for six, and the final delivery backward of point for four.
In the fifth over, however, Garwe took his revenge, having him caught at the wicket for 14, with the score on 22.
After this the batsmen played with caution until lunch, when the score was 31 for one wicket, with Mawoyo on 14 and Mutizwa, batting in his old position of number three, on one.
The caution continued for a while after lunch, but then the runs began to come freely again, with Mutizwa flourishing on his return to the top of the order.
At 74, though, Mawoyo missed a sweep at Chikomba and was adjudged lbw for 26.
Kudzai Sauramba came in next but, well though Mutizwa was batting, there seemed no real urgency about chasing the victory target.
The hundred came up in the 37th over, leaving another 163 to win in the legislated minimum of 36 overs.
Mutizwa reached his fifty off the last ball before tea, off 108 balls, when the score was 112 for two wickets.
Mawoyo admitted at this point that his team was no longer pressing for victory, but would be content with the draw.
Eagles were still pushing for victory after tea, although their hopes were diminishing with every over that went by.
Mutizwa reached 79 without ever looking in trouble, until he swept fatally at a ball from the occasional off-spinner Maunze and was adjudged lbw, the score being 159 for three.
Clive Chitumba came in next, but soon after four o’clock the teams mutually decided that no result was possible and the match was declared a draw.
Sauramba played well to finish unbeaten with 39, with Chitumba on six.
The teams will meet again in Harare next week for the final Logan Cup match of the season, where Mountaineers will seek to keep their unbeaten record.