Mutombodzi scores half-century as Eagles fight back

Mountaineers – 171 and 22-1 in 5 overs (Joylord Gumbie 17*, Dion Myers 4*, Kevin Kasuza 1). Eagles – 172 all out in 58.3 overs (Tinotenda Mutombodzi 63, Brad Evans 43, Rodney Mupfudza 17; Victor Nyauchi 3/28, Wellington Masakadza 2/23, Tony Munyonga 2/40). Day 2 – Stumps: Mountaineers lead by 21 runs

Fine, positive batting by Tino Mutombodzi and Brad Evans this Thursday turned the Eagles innings around in this Logan Cup match at Harare Sports Club, and made possible a one-run lead on the first innings, before rain again cut short the day’s play.

Eagles began the day at 44 for four wickets in reply to Mountaineers’ total of 171, the overnight batsmen being Regis Chakabva with four and Mutombodzi still to score.

Mutombodzi immediately sought to take the initiative, hitting four boundaries in quick succession, but he lost Chakabva for 12, playing no stroke to a delivery from Victor Nyauchi that came back in and knocked back his off stump; 73 for five.

Faraz Akram came in next, scored three and was then given out lbw to Donald Tiripano; six wickets down for 76. When Nyauchi bowled a short ball Mutombodzi hit it with ease over the midwicket boundary for six to reach 25 — the second-highest score of the match at this stage.

The debutant Evans, son of the aggressive former Zimbabwe batsman Craig Evans, came in next and a positive partnership developed between the two. At one stage Evans emulated his father by swinging a ball from Tony Munyonga over wide long-on for six; later he did the same to Wellington Masakadza.

The fifty partnership came and went, and soon afterwards Mutombodzi reached an admirable 50 off 68 balls. The stand put on 80 runs and was in sight of a first-innings lead when Mutombodzi drove a catch to mid-on off the bowling of Masakadza, and departed for a wonderful 63 – it came off 85 balls and including seven fours and a six.

Eagles were now 156 for seven, and the last three wickets needed to score 16 runs to lead on the first innings. At 166 they lost Evans, who tried to hit Munyonga for another six, but was caught on the midwicket boundary for 43.

With the scores level Masakadza trapped Tanaka Chivanga lbw for one, but then Tapiwa Mufudza put him away for a single to the leg side to give Eagles the lead. With that lead of just one run, Munyonga dismissed Keith Jaure lbw without scoring, leaving Mufudza not out with seven.

Nyauchi was the most successful of the Mountaineers bowlers, with three wickets for 28 runs, while the spinners Masakadza and Munyonga took two each. Lunch was taken at the close of the innings. Mountaineers suffered a serious blow as they started their second innings.

Both batsmen had a single to their credit when Joylord Gumbie attempted a quick single to square leg, and Mountaineers lost Kevin Kasuza, the rock of their first innings, as Rodney Mupfudza brilliantly threw the stumps down at the batsman’s end to run him out.

Dion Myers would also have been run out two overs later if there had been a direct hit as he started off for a quick single into the covers, and had to turn back. Gumbie, though, looked much more assured than he had been in the first innings, scoring nine off 15 balls before play was suspended with the score at 10 for one wicket, at about 1 pm, due to a light drizzle which soon became heavier.

The rain did not last too long, but left parts of the outfield too damp for play to start before 3.30 pm — by which time the weather was threatening again. Sure enough, play lasted only five minutes before the light became too bad to continue, and the players left the field with Mountaineers on 22 for one.

Gumbie had continued to bat well and was now 17 not out, while Myers had a boundary to his credit. Before long heavy rain fell and the match was called off early for another day, with the situation as well balanced as possible.

Rhinos – 152-2 in 47.5 overs (Takudzwanashe Kaitano 75*, Charles Kunje 33, Prince Masvaure 21; John Nyumbu 1/21, Ernest Masuku 1/30). Tuskers – yet to bat. Day 2 – Stumps

Takudzwanashe Kaitano flourished today in the brief amount of play possible due to the heavy rains in the other Logan Cup match between his Rhinos side and Tuskers at Old Hararians Sports Club. The weather continues to bless the country but it is playing havoc with the match at this ground.

Play again started late in the morning owing to a wet outfield. Rhinos began the day at 31 without loss, with Prince Masvaure on 12 and Kaitano on 19.

Masvaure never really got into his stride, and took one hour, 45 minutes to score a dogged 21 before he fell leg before wicket to John Nyumbu, with the score 61 for one. There followed a good partnership between Kaitano and Charles Kunje, who scored a steady 33 before being bowled by Ernest Masuku.

It was bad luck for Kunje, because only one further delivery was possible, Remembrance Nyathi facing it, before play was stopped due to bad light, as a forerunner of more heavy rain.

Kaitano has batted very soundly so far, as runs have not been easy to score on the damp outfield. In these circumstances Rhinos will be very pleased to have made 152 runs with only two wickets down, especially when looking at the low scores made at Harare Sports Club. But with more rain forecast it now looks doubtful that a genuine result will be possible in this match.