Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 379 all out in 112 overs (Tino Mutombodzi 86, Joylord Gumbie 77, Sikandar Raza 37; John Nyumbu 4/101, Steve Chimhamhiwa 3/50, Luke Jongwe 2/50)
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers – 103 & 178 for 9 in 63.3 overs (Brian Chari 52, Chris Mpofu 33*; Jalat Khan 3/47, Nathan Waller 2/29, Trevor Garwe 2/37)
Stumps – Day 3: Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers trail by 98 runs with one wicket remaining
Sadly, Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers could put up little fight against Harare Metropolitan Eagles, and only bad light today saved them from defeat within three days.
They finished the day on 178 for nine wickets in their second innings, still 98 runs behind Eagles and with just one wicket in hand.
Brian Chari put up almost a lone fight with the bat for the visitors, batting very well for 52, while the leading bowler in the second innings was the Pakistani left-arm spinner Jalat Khan, whose cunningly flighted deliveries have so far claimed three cheap second-innings wickets.
On a cloudy morning Tuskers resumed their first innings in deep trouble, on 94 for eight, after Eagles had scored 379; Thabo Mboyi was still there on four, and Steve Chimhamhiwa one.
Their first objective was obviously to reach a team score of 100, and Mboyi achieved this in the second over of the day, when a thick edge off Taurai Muzarabani flashed to the boundary past the slips.
He did not last much longer, however, as he tried to slog a ball from Khan against the spin, and skyed a catch to mid-on; he made 12 and the score was 103 for nine.
Chris Mpofu, the last man, lasted three balls before flicking at a ball from Muzarabani and edging it to the keeper, and Tuskers were thus all out for their dismal score of 103.
Chimhamhiwa maintained his grim defence to the last, and finished with one not out off 44 balls faced.
Nathan Waller was not given the chance to improve his figures of five for 29, while Muzarabani finished with four for 31.
Eagles led by 276 runs on the first innings, and wisely, especially in view of the unsettled weather, decided to enforce the follow-on.
Nkosana Mpofu and Taffy Mupariwa opened the Tuskers second innings, and made steady progress, surviving one or two indiscreet swishes until the score reached 38.
Ten minutes from the official lunch time Mupariwa, who had scored 10 off 42 balls in a dogged effort, was adjudged lbw to Waller, who was again bowling in fine form.
Strangely, the umpires delayed the taking of the lunch interval and allowed an extra over to be bowled.
This worked very much to the disfavour of Tuskers, as off the second ball Mpofu was bamboozled and bowled by a flighted delivery from Khan, having made 21.
Tuskers were most unhappy to go in to lunch at 44 for two.
Immediately after the break the new batsman, Richmond Mutumbami, attempted an indiscreet pull off a short ball from Tino Mutombodzi, and was caught at midwicket for one; 45 for three.
Further disaster followed, as at 52 Mbekezeli Mabuza was run out for two as the batsmen attempted a quick single.
Charles Kunje was fortunate to get off the mark, as a big heave against the spin of Khan resulted in the ball flying off the edge and just clearing the slips for two.
Two balls afterwards he chose better deliveries to hit, and slammed two leg-side fours.
Chari and Kunje seemed to decide that in this situation they might as well go for runs and enjoy themselves for as long as it lasted, and they attacked the bowling with a will.
The pair added 29 in six overs before Khan had Kunje caught at silly point for 20 off 17 balls; 81 for five.
Luke Jongwe put his head down for a while and scored five before clipping a ball from Trevor Garwe to midwicket; 92 for six.
John Nyumbu had just come in to join Chari, on 24 and playing well, when a light rain started and the players had to leave the field.
Tea was taken early and play resumed after a break of about half an hour.
Sensible batting took the total past 100, for the second time in the day, and put on 30 together before Nyumbu (12) edged a ball from Garwe to the keeper; 122 for seven.
Chari continued to bat with great determination and skill, reaching his fifty off 106 balls.
He was out for 52 in a most unfortunate way, as a ball from Khan, down the leg side, hit him on the pad and then rolled on to the stumps.
He faced 115 balls, with five fours and a six, and the total was now 139 for eight.
Thabo Mboyi was next to go, for two, edging a ball from Waller to the keeper; 144 for nine.
With the last man, Chris Mpofu, in, Eagles gave a trial to Ryan Burl’s occasional leg-breaks, but it only allowed Mpofu to indulge in some of his favourite big hits.
He had scored 33 off 25 balls, most of his runs coming off Burl, when the umpires, perhaps afraid he was not seeing the ball well enough — or else worried of being hit by one of his thunderbolts — decided to take the players off the field due to bad light, with the score at 178 for nine.
So all the players and officials will have to return on the final morning to go through the formality of taking the final wicket in order for Eagles to complete their convincing victory over their Bulawayo rivals.