Southern Rocks – 203 and 148 all out in 53 overs (Sikandar Raza 68, William Mashinge 50*, Richmond Mutumbami 7; Tanaka Chivanga 6/38, Richard Ngarava 2/25, Tino Mutombodzi 2/33)
Alliance Health Eagles – 407 all out in 84.5 overs (Kudzai Maunze 183, Brad Evans 66, Tino Mutombodzi 34; Travor Mutsamba 5/81, William Mashinge 2/82, Sikandar Raza 1/56)
Alliance Health Eagles won by an innings and 56 runs
Alliance Health Eagles thrashed reigning Logan Cup champions Southern Rocks inside three days as they got their 2021/22 season off to a flyer at Takashinga on Sunday.
Although Sikandar Raza and William Mashinge both scored fighting fifties for Rocks, their team-mates crumbled so badly against fine pace bowling from Tanaka Chivanga that soon after lunch Eagles completed a handsome victory by an innings and 56 runs.
Rocks, 204 behind on the first innings, began the third day deep in trouble at 23 for three wickets in their second innings, with Raza on 14 and Roy Kaia one.
Kaia, whose one run took him 23 balls, was out with only a single added, bowled by Chivanga.
His cousin Innocent Kaia, who retired hurt with a knee injury in the first innings, tried to bat for his team, but he was quickly caught by Regis Chakabva without scoring.
Richmond Mutumbami, so often a tower of strength for Rocks in their first Logan Cup seasons about 10 years ago, scored only seven today, caught by Kudzai Maunze off Chivanga.
The fast bowler had thus taken three vital early wickets and Rocks faced disaster at 40 for six wickets.
Raza refused to surrender, though, and he quickly found a worthy partner in Mashinge.
The pair knuckled down and fought it out with the rampant Eagles bowlers, and successfully saw off Chivanga when he had to rest.
For almost two hours Raza and Mashinge defied the bowlers, playing a wise game of positive play rather than the fruitless dour defence of other early batsmen.
They added 96 together, with Raza reaching a fine fifty off 97 balls, before he was finally caught by Richard Ngarava off the leg-spin of Tino Mutombodzi for a gallant 68.
He made his runs off 115 balls in just over three hours, hitting two sixes and six fours.
Rocks were now 136 for seven.
Chivanga came back to polish off the tail, and quickly removed Tendai Chisoro for one and Cuthbert Musoko for five.
Mashinge had just time to reach his fifty before the last man, Travor Mutsamba, was caught off Mutombodzi with the total 148.
Mashinge walked from the field unbeaten for exactly 50, scored off 99 balls with four fours – only he and Raza of the whole team reached double figures, the next-best innings being Mutumbami’s seven.
Chivanga returned his best first-class bowling figures with six wickets for 38 runs in 17 overs, while Mutombodzi took two wickets.
Eagles looked a very competent team in this match, especially with Chivanga in such fine form, while Rocks will need to do some self-examination if they are to have a chance of retaining their title this season.
Rhinos – 290 and 184 all out in 62 overs (Prince Masvaure 40, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 30, Brandon Mavuta 28*; Brighton Chipungu 5/58, Wellington Masakadza 2/44, Tendai Chatara 2/44)
Mountaineers – 159 and 213-7 in 63 overs (Tony Munyonga 71*, Victor Nyauchi 29*, Kevin Kasuza 22; Ryan Burl 3/77, Tafara Chingwara 2/21, Brandon Mavuta 2/76)
Day 3 – Stumps: Mountaineers need 103 runs
An unexpected fightback by Tony Munyonga and Victor Nyauchi has taken the match between their side Mountaineers and Rhinos at Harare Sports Club into the fourth day.
Rhinos began the day with a score of 126 for five wickets in their first innings, an overall lead of 257 runs over Mountaineers – the overnight batsmen were Tarisai Musakanda with 19 and Nyasha Mayavo with nine.
With plenty of time in hand, they would naturally be looking to build as big a total as possible to play Mountaineers completely out of the game, but they did not bat particularly well.
Musakanda added only a single before Tendai Chatara had him caught at the wicket, while Carl Mumba this time scored only five before being caught off Wellington Masakadza, who then trapped Mayavo lbw for nine.
With Chatara having Tafara Chingwara caught at the wicket without scoring, nine wickets were down for 135 – four wickets for nine runs only this morning, and Rhinos’ lead only 266.
It was a great relief for Rhinos that their last pair came to the rescue, as Kudakwashe Macheka, who showed in his first innings that he is no rabbit with the bat, joined Brandon Mavuta in a fighting partnership.
The two played positive cricket and attacked the bowling with discrimination as they put on a very valuable 49 runs for the last wicket in 12 overs before Donald Tiripano finally broke the stand by removing Macheka for 23.
Mavuta played well to finish on 28 not out – the total was now 184 and Mountaineers had to score 316 to win, the highest total of the match and a much more difficult task before the last pair had effected their rescue act.
The leg-spinner Brighton Chipungu, who bowled so well on day two, finished with the figures of five wickets for 58 runs, while Chatara and Wellington Masakadza took two each.
Mountaineers made an unconvincing start to their second innings, losing Joylord Gumbie in the fourth over, caught by Ryan Burl off Chingwara for 10, with the score 13, and at 27 Gary Chirimuuta also fell to a catch off Chingwara.
Kevin Kasuza played solidly to score 22 before the spinners came on and Burl had him caught, while Mavuta bowled out Timycen Maruma for 21 and then had Shingi Masakadza out lbw for 10.
This left Mountaineers struggling on 87 for five wickets and seemingly doomed to a three-day defeat.
However, Munyonga, a man with a sound temperament, was still there and had support in turn from Tiripano (21) and Wellington Masakadza (15).
Burl dismissed them both, and when Masakadza was out at 149 for seven, there were only three tail-enders to come in to join Munyonga.
But there was a surprise to come, as Nyauchi hung in with Munyonga, and the pair defied the Rhinos attack for about an hour.
They boosted the score to 213 for seven wickets, both missing no opportunity to score but without batting recklessly.
At this point the light was deteriorating, and the players were forced to leave the field early, with the partnership now worth 64 runs.
They will have to return for the fourth day on Monday, with Rhinos very likely to complete their victory, but Mountaineers have still been left with a glimmer of hope – they need another 103 runs with three wickets left.