Kasuza’s half-century stands out on Logan Cup opening day

Mountaineers – 171 all out in 54.1 overs (Kevin Kasuza 70, Tony Munyonga 24, Gary Chirimuuta 20; Tanaka Chivanga 3/32, Tapiwa Mufudza 3/37, Faraz Akram 2/44). Eagles – 44-4 in 21.4 overs (Rodney Mupfudza 17, Wessly Madhevere 16, Regis Chakabva 4*; Victor Nyauchi 2/2, Tinashe Muchawaya 1/12, Dion Myers 1/16). Day 1 – Stumps: Eagles trail by 127 runs

One batsman, Kevin Kasuza, stood head and shoulders above all others on a bowlers’ day in the season-opening Logan Cup match between his Mountaineers side and Eagles at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.

While the next-best batsman scored 24, Kasuza played superbly to score 70 for Mountaineers, and he was entirely responsible for the slightly advantageous position his team found themselves in at the close. This match began in what seems to be traditional fashion, the home side winning the toss and putting their opponents in to bat.

The morning was quite bright, if cloudy, and the outfield was slow after much rain the previous day. Faraz Akram opened the Eagles bowling in company with Tanaka Chivanga, a debutant who has, however, played club cricket in South Africa.

Joylord Gumbie and Kasuza batted fairly comfortably for Mountaineers, making 21 runs together before Gumbie (10) tried to hit a leg-side ball from Akram, only to edge it to the keeper. Next man in was the promising 18-year-old Dion Myers, also making his début.

Unfortunately he only made a single before he was beaten by a fine ball from Chivanga, and the ball flew off a leading edge to be caught in the covers; 22 for two. Kasuza continued to play soundly and kept the runs coming, while Timycen Maruma kept him good company in a partnership of 54.

Maruma made 20 before he drove at a full-length ball from Chivanga outside the off stump and edged it straight to second slip; 76 for three. Just before lunch Kasuza completed a fine fifty by clipping a ball from Chivanga through midwicket for three.

At lunch Mountaineers were 97 for three, with Kasuza on 55 and Gary Chirimuuta eight. Chirimuuta looked to play positively after lunch, but he edged a catch to the keeper off Akram for 20; 115 for four.

Kasuza reached 70, the only batsman at this stage to exceed 20, when he stepped back to slash a ball from the off-spinner Tapiwa Mufudza through the covers, only to hit his own wicket as he did so, an unusual method of dismissal.

Mountaineers were now 124 for five and in some trouble. The new pair of Tony Munyonga and Tinashe Chimbambo struggled uncomfortably for a while before Chimbambo tried to hit out at a ball from Keith Jaure, but sliced a catch to second slip for three.

The bowlers were right on top, spearheaded by the pacy and determined Chivanga. Even the experienced Donald Tiripano could score only two runs off 25 balls before he went back on his stumps and was out lbw to Chivanga.

Wellington Masakadza, tied down, hit Mufudza for six, only to be caught in the covers next ball; eight wickets now down for 150. Munyonga, however, often handles these situations well, and he fought it out well until on 24 when he unaccountably misjudged Mufudza and popped up a catch to short mid-on, leaving Mountaineers on 168 for nine.

The innings was soon over for 171, with three wickets each for Chivanga and Mufudza. It was really the bowling of Chivanga that troubled Mountaineers the most. However, Eagles also have their problems to overcome, as was apparent when they batted.

Kudzai Maunze and the 19-year-old Gareth Chirawu opened the batting for Mountaineers against the bowling of Victor Nyauchi and Tiripano. Chirawu, making his début, lasted only three balls before he unwisely flashed at a ball outside the off stump from Nyauchi and was caught in the slips.

Maunze and Rodney Mupfudza became even more bogged down than the later Mountaineers batsmen, and after 10 overs had been bowled the score was only eight for one wicket.

It had reached 13 in the 12th over when Tinashe Muchawaya produced a beautiful delivery that jagged back off the pitch and Maunze, who had been totally bogged down with three off 42 balls, was so deceived that he shouldered arms and had his stumps knocked over.

Mupfudza gradually began to open up more, but when he had scored 17 he edged a ball from the medium-paced Myers into the slips and was well caught low down by Munyonga; 33 for three. Wessly Madhevere played himself in with care, but be was next out as Nyauchi came back for a second spell and bowled him for 16; 42 for four.

Two experienced hands in Regis Chakabva and Tino Mutombodzi were now at the crease, as the light was deteriorating with a storm in the distance. Inevitably the umpires took the players off the field, and perhaps it could be said to be fairly well balanced with the score at 44 for four, with any advantage right now with Mountaineers.

This made the superb batting of Kasuza all the more remarkable.

Rhinos – 31-0 in 11.5 overs (Takudzwanashe Kaitano 19*, Prince Masvaure 12*). Tuskers – still to bat. Day 1 – Stumps

No play was possible until after tea in the other Logan Cup match between Rhinos and Tuskers at Old Hararians Sports Club on Wednesday, owing to a wet outfield after the prolonged rain of the previous day.

When it did begin, Rhinos won the toss and decided to bat, though even then only 11.5 overs were possible before bad light ended play for the day. In that time Prince Masvaure (12 not out) and Takudzwa Kaitano (19 not out) took the score to 31 without loss, with Kaitano much the more aggressive of the two, facing 29 balls as against 42 balls for the cautious Masvaure.

Steve Chimhamhiwa was very economical with the ball, bowling six overs for only nine runs.