Tuskers subdue resilient Eagles to record big win
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers won by 144 runs
It took them more than 70 overs on the final day of the match to finish the job, but finally Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers beat Harare Metropolitan Eagles by 144 runs in the Logan Cup match at Harare Sports Club.
The Eagles middle order put up a good fight for a while, with six successive batsmen in the order scoring more than 35, but the highest of them was 78 by Regis Chakabva, not enough to give the home team the miracle they needed.
The fourth day began with Eagles on 59 for one wicket, after being set an impossible target of 509 to win. The overnight batsmen were Chamu Chibhabha on 34 and Kudzai Maunze on 15.
The weather this time was cool and overcast, though rain was not expected, and the pitch showing few signs of wear and reasonable for batting.
Maunze showed early aggression, twice driving Thabo Mboyi for four in his first over of the day.
Mboyi had better fortune when Chibhabha was facing, as he produced a fine yorker that bowled him out for 36; 72 for two.
Chakabva, after his bad experience in the first innings, played very cautiously at first, but then began to open up and show some of his best form.
Steady batting was generally the order of the day, though, and the bowlers had to toil hard and be patient as Maunze reached his fifty off 75 balls.
Three balls later, though, to his own chagrin, he drove powerfully at a ball from Luke Jongwe, but hit a catch straight to mid-off; 136 for three, and he was out for exactly 50.
Tino Mutombodzi hit his first two balls, from Sean Williams, for four, and in fact four boundaries off the first six he faced, mostly flashing drives.
Chakabva reached fifty off 74 balls, while Mutombodzi calmed down a bit.
At lunch Eagles had reached 191 for three, with Chakabva on 64 and Mutombodzi 28.
Chris Mpofu was perhaps the best of the Tuskers bowlers, and he finally got his reward after lunch, when Chakabva (78) drove loosely outside the off stump and edged to the keeper; 209 for four.
Cephas Zhuwao was next in, and within a few minutes was slogging a ball from Sikandar Raza over the midwicket boundary for six.
He followed this up with a straight six off Jongwe and another over long-on off Raza, all in his first 22 runs.
Mutombodzi then reached his fifty, which took him 69 balls, but only five runs later he swung over a ball from Raza and was bowled; 263 for five.
Nathan Waller then joined Zhuwao’s party, launching a ball from Raza over long-on for six.
Zhuwao reached his fifty off 49 balls, but without addition he was gone, pushing forward to a ball from Raza and being given out lbw.
He hit three fours and four sixes, and the score was now 306 for six.
Trevor Garwe did not last long, bowled when trying to hit Raza for a straight six after scoring two runs; 308 for seven.
Waller was keen to take on the six-hitting mantle of Zhuwao.
Tapiwa Mufudza was given out lbw to Williams without scoring, and at tea the score was 324 for eight wickets, with Waller on 38 and Cuthbert Musoko two.
After tea Waller showed more caution as he approached his fifty, but it was in vain; trying to hit the boundary that would do the job, he lofted a pull off Mpofu and was caught at square leg for 47.
He faced 54 balls and hit three sixes and three fours; the score was 342 for nine.
The last wicket was a while in falling, and the last man Taurai Muzarabani slogged a ball from Mpofu over cow corner for six.
Finally, at about 3.50 pm, Williams wrapped up the innings with an lbw decision against Musoko, who made 20, leaving Muzarabani not out with 12.
The total was 364, making the margin of Tuskers’ victory 144 runs.
Just as nobody really stood out in the Eagles’ batting, so Tuskers had no outstanding performer with the ball.
The spinners Williams and Raza took three wickets each but at costs of 108 and 78 runs, while Mpofu took two wickets.
Overall Tuskers put up a powerful performance, their biggest strength being their middle-order batting of Craig Ervine, Williams and Raza.
The test for them will be during the international matches, when the team will have to adjust for the loss of all three of them, in all likelihood.
The next round of Logan Cup matches starts next Tuesday, 10 October.
The two losing teams in the first round, Harare Metropolitan Eagles and Rising Stars, will meet at Takashinga Sports Club, while Manicaland Mountaineers and Midlands Rhinos play at Harare Sports Club, Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers having a bye.