Timycen Maruma, with blistering innings of 37 not out, sped Mountaineers to their expected victory over Rangers, by seven wickets, in their Logan Cup match at Takashinga Sports Club before lunch today.
Rangers began the day with six wickets down for only 54 runs in their second innings, a lead of only 42 runs with all their major batsmen gone.
Three more wickets went down quickly, making the total 62 for nine wickets at one stage.
Alvin Chiradza was bowled by Victor Nyauchi for his overnight score of four, while Kyle Jarvis made only two before being caught off the bowling of William Mashinge.
Charlton Tshuma’s dogged innings of four off 41 balls then came to an end when he was caught off Nyauchi, and Rangers faced total humiliation.
Fortunately, this was avoided by some spirited play from the last pair of Dylan Hondo and Kuda Macheka.
With nothing to lose, they decided to hit out boldly against bowling that became rather loose and added another 28 runs in less than six overs.
The innings finally ended at 90 when Wellington Masakadza came on and bowled out Macheka for 10, while Hondo was left not out with 18.
Donald Tiripano, who did not bowl today, finished with the excellent figures of five wickets for 15 runs, while Nyauchi and Mashinge took two wickets each.
Mountaineers were left needing 79 runs to win.
Rangers threw all they had into their bowling and fielding and soon removed both openers with the score only 13.
Joylord Gumbie was bowled by Macheka for nine, and Roy Kaia quickly followed, caught at the wicket off Tshuma for four.
These two bowlers were superb, but Maruma and Tinashe Chimbambo played themselves in and then opened up as victory drew near.
When the bowling was changed, Hondo had Chimbambo caught at the wicket for 23, with the score on 48.
Lunch was delayed in order to finish the match, as Shingi Masakadza joined Maruma at the crease, and hit the first ball he faced, from Jarvis, for six.
Maruma, who had been on 13 when Masakadza came in, decided he did not want to be outdone and launched a ferocious attack on the bowling.
Off the next eight balls, he faced he hammered 24 runs, including two sixes and three fours, winning the match for his team with his second six.
Altogether he faced 27 balls for his 37 not out, while Masakadza was unbeaten with 10.
For Mountaineers, it was an expected victory over the academy students, though probably they had not expected to be so hard-pressed on the first innings.
They are now equal with Eagles at the top of the Logan Cup table, both teams having earned 17 points from three matches and three victories.
One of these teams is almost certain to lift the Logan Cup.
Rangers have lost all three of their matches but were not disgraced in any of them, as they were competitive on the first innings in all three.
Their inexperience has told against them, though, as they lost the plot and the match each time, through their inexperience and their tendency to crack under pressure.
But they have done well to be competitive for part of the way against all of their more experienced opponents, and can only learn and improve from their struggles.