This week’s matches – Tuesday 20 to Friday 23 November:
At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo: Matabeleland Tuskers v Mashonaland Eagles
At Mutare Sports Club: Mountaineers v Mid-West Rhinos
Bye: Southern Rocks
Six matches, six results. The rains will no doubt ensure that drawn matches will come into the picture sooner or later, but the Logan Cup season has continued its excellent start with plenty of good cricket and results in every match.
Matabeleland Tuskers and Mid-West Rhinos both won their matches, and have now won two out of two. At the other end of the table, Mashonaland Eagles continued their surprising poor form, losing to the rampant Mid-West Rhinos by 323 runs – the heaviest defeat by a run margin since the franchise system started three seasons ago. They were only 20 runs behind on first innings, but the powerful Rhinos top order came through on the third day, and on the fourth the once-powerful Eagles gave a negative and spiritless batting display.
In Bulawayo, Southern Rocks did at least show fight against Matabeleland Tuskers, and were it not for a startling innings of 188 not out by Glenn Querl, taking advantage of his promotion to night-watchman, they would not have been too far behind on the first innings, when Chris Mpofu bowled brilliantly. Rocks looked set for a three-day defeat, but they showed much fight the second time around and lost with honour.
The Logan Cup table at present reads as follows, matches played in brackets:
Matabeleland Tuskers 14 points (2), Mid-West Rhinos 14 (2), Mountaineers 7 (2), Southern Rocks 7 (3), Mashonaland Eagles 0 (3).
Judging both by current form and recent history, Mashonaland Eagles seem to be on a hiding to nothing in their match in Bulawayo this week against the reigning champions.
But they do have the potential to fight back strongly, especially if Raymond Price and Elton Chigumbura are available again. Further, they do need a top-order batsman who will make big scores, and the unusual poor form of Forster Mutizwa in particular is a concern. Matabeleland Tuskers are very powerful and confident right now and will relish the prospect of a huge victory over their ancient rivals, like the two they recorded last season. But they are not unbeatable.
The match in Mutare will be of great interest.
Mid-West Rhinos will be favourites after their two fine victories, but Mountaineers showed much spirit when they defeated Mashonaland Eagles recently. However, they had to rely too much on individual brilliance rather than a full team performance. The same could be said of Mid-West Rhinos last season, but they are pulling together well at present.
With Hamilton Masakadza, Vusimuzi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor all playing in the same match, the performance of the bowlers will be vital – and on current form, Mid-West Rhinos look to have the edge there. Edward Rainsford and Mike Chinouya have been a formidable new-ball pair, and if Richard Muzhange can regain his best form, all opponents will struggle.
Rhinos are likely to find this their hardest match yet – before their clash with Matabeleland Tuskers at Kwekwe Sports Club next week.