Rocks seal emphatic victory on return to Logan Cup

Tuskers – 159 and 204 all out in 59.2 overs (Craig Ervine 97, John Nyumbu 29*, Luke Jongwe 23; Tendai Chisoro 4/60, Shane Snater 3/49, Sikandar Raza 2/34). Southern Rocks – 321 and 45-0 in 11 overs (Ben Curran 35, Brian Mudzinganyama 8*). Southern Rocks won by 10 wickets

Southern Rocks, returning to the Logan Cup after missing six seasons, were able to celebrate a victory in their first match this Friday, despite a superb fighting innings of 97 by Craig Ervine. They won by the clear margin of 10 wickets, just after lunch on the final day.

The final day’s play began with Tuskers, after falling 162 runs behind Rocks on the first innings, in trouble at 30 for three wickets in their second innings. Within 10 minutes they were four down for 36, as PJ Moor (5) tried to hook a short ball from Shane Snater and gloved a catch to the keeper.

The other overnight batsman, Ervine, decided it was time to put Snater in his place, and hit him for three fours and a three in his next over, all handsome strokes from a batsman of real class who does not always play up to his true ability. His new partner, Luke Jongwe, spent 10 balls without scoring before unleashing a massive shot off Blessing Muzarabani that sent the ball on to the roof of the pavilion for six.

Ervine continued to bat with brilliant timing, reaching his fifty off 74 balls, and including nine fours, most of which seemed to be little more than pushes, but so beautifully timed that they easily reached the boundary. Jongwe was doing his part and batting well, which was a very good thing for Tuskers, who had only five tail-enders to come.

The pair took the score to 121, a partnership of 85, before Tendai Chisoro did the trick for Rocks, luring Jongwe (23) out of his crease for a stumping. He had played a valuable supporting role, with some fine hits, but his dismissal now opened up the Tuskers’ long weak tail.

Ainsley Ndlovu came in carrying a first-class career batting average of six, while Ervine continued to flourish, swinging a ball from Chisoro over the midwicket boundary for an effortless six. Ndlovu finally rose to the occasion this time and batted well, despite twice trying to commit suicide by playing the reverse sweep, the ball both times lobbing up just out of reach of the fielders.

He made 17 before he swung a ball from Sikandar Raza to midwicket and was superbly caught by the diving Brian Mudzinganyama. Ernest Masuku struggled for survival, and when he did try a big shot against Chisoro, he was stumped; 167 for seven.

But at least Tuskers had now avoided the innings defeat and were ahead by five runs; Ervine was now on 91. Sadly, Ervine fell for 97 – he unwisely tried a reverse sweep against Chisoro and was bowled.

He faced 135 balls and hit 13 fours and a six, leaving with the score at 174 for eight wickets. Steve Chimhamhiwa was next out, for one, as he played forward and edged a ball from Raza to slip; 179 for nine. John Nyumbu went on the attack, hitting what runs he could, and swung two successive balls from Raza over midwicket for six.

innings came to an end when Charlton Tshuma ran himself out, seeking an unlikely second run from a hit by Nyumbu so as to keep his partner on strike. Nyumbu was not out with 29 off 33 balls, the total was 204, and Rocks were left to score 43 runs to win. Chisoro finished as the most successful of the bowlers, taking four wickets for 60, while Snater had three for 49 and Raza two for 34.

After lunch Rocks began their victory surge, with Mudzinganyama and Ben Curran opening the innings against the bowling of Masuku and Nyumbu. Mudzinganyama never really found his timing, but he stayed in, while Curran went for the runs, hammering some strong blows as he hit 35 not out, to Mudzinganyama’s eight, off 33 balls, being particularly harsh on Masuku.

The victory was sealed just in time, as five minutes later heavy rain started to fall. This victory will be much celebrated by the cricket supporters of Masvingo, who no doubt remember the lean years of their first Logan Cup stint up to 2013/14, when they were able to record only three victories in 47 matches.

Eagles – 161 all out in 49.2 overs (Regis Chakabva 44, Gareth Chirawu 40, Wessly Madhevere 19; Brandon Mavuta 4/14, Tafara Chingwara 3/49, Neville Madziva 2/33). Rhinos – 311 all out in 95.4 overs (Bright Matsiwe 89, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 75, Neville Madziva 41; Tanaka Chivanga 4/47, Faraz Akram 2/22, Oskar Kolk 2/79). Match drawn

After the third-day washout, Rhinos began the final day of this Logan Cup match at Old Hararians Sports Club on 134 for four wickets, within quite easy reach of a first-innings lead. Tafadzwa Kaitano (63) and Bright Matsiwe (16) were the batsmen at the crease. With limited time left, one would have thought that Rhinos would want to build up their lead quickly, in the hope of making a good total with time to bowl out Eagles a second time.

With the weather as it is, the odds were against that happening, but they didn’t seem to make any great effort: their batting was positive, but apart perhaps from Carl Mumba none of their batsmen really tried to dominate the bowling.

Kaitano batted rather slowly this morning, and added only another 12 runs while Matsiwe did most of the scoring, before he was caught at the wicket off Faraz Akram for 75. The best and most positive partnership of the innings was the 87 put on at over four an over between Matsiwe and Neville Madziva for the sixth wicket, before both were out in quick succession.

Matsiwe did well to score 89 in only his second first-class match. Apart from Mumba’s 24 off 28 balls, the later batsmen did not take an aggressive approach. It is strange how the veteran Chris Mpofu seems to have transformed himself from an exciting slogger into a dour blocker, as on this occasion he scored just two runs off 14 balls.

This left Eagles to score 150 to avoid an innings defeat and Rhinos about three-and-a-half hours in which to bowl them out a second time. However, they never had a chance, as the rain arrived yet again, and by the time it stopped the ground was too wet for any more cricket.

With a win and a draw, Eagles keep their place at the top of the Logan Cup table, though they certainly had the worst of this match. On the other hand, Rhinos have grounds to be unhappy that both teams received five points, despite their strong lead.