Sports

Chirimuuta’s fighting century in vain as Eagles soar to victory

Gary

Mountaineers – 182 and 245 all out in 89.2 overs (Gary Chirimuuta 118, William Mashinge 47, Richmond Mutumbami 25; Trevor Garwe 4/17, Tapiwa Mufudza 2/50, Wesley Madhevere 2/57)

Eagles – 307 and 124-4 in 30.5 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 49*, Tinashe Nenhunzi 29*, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 26; William Mashinge 3/44, Tinashe Muchawaya 1/15)

 

Eagles won by six wickets

 

A fine fighting century by Gary Chirimuuta, helped by William Mashinge, enabled Mountaineers to go down like the reigning champions they are to Eagles in the Logan Cup match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

 

Eagles were perhaps hoping to wrap up the match before lunch, but instead a determined fightback, led by these two players, kept them in the field until tea and then pushed them to obtain victory by six wickets by the end of the third day.

 

Mountaineers began the day facing likely defeat at 69 for four in their second innings, still 56 runs behind Eagles and with only Chirimuuta of their specialist batsmen left.

 

However, it has been seen several times this season that the sting in the Mountaineers’ batting has often been in their lower order, and this was to prove the case again.

 

Richard Ngarava opened the bowling to Chirimuuta, with the night-watchman Tafadzwa Muzarawetu at the other end; it was a maiden over, followed by another from Tapiwa Mufudza to Muzarawetu.

 

They took the score to 84, at which point Muzarawetu was out lbw to Wesley Madhevere without scoring after facing 31 balls.

 

Chirimuuta was playing a quiet, sensible game, content to look for ones and twos when they were available rather than try to force matters.

 

Then came yet another bad short-leg injury, as the new batsman, Kudzai Sauramba, pulled a short ball from Madhevere fiercely and Tinashe Kamunhukamwe took the full force of the blow on the body, eventually being able to leave the field by himself.

 

Sauramba tried to bat positively, with mixed success, and was out for 10, brilliantly caught low down with the left hand at slip by Chamu Chibhabha off Mufudza; 97 for six.

 

Mashinge was soon underway with two fours, while Chirimuuta, playing one of his best innings now, reached his fifty off 127 balls, enabling Mountaineers to save the innings defeat.

 

The two batsmen now dominated the Eagles bowling as never before in this match, with Mashinge in particular playing one fine off-side drive after another to the boundary.

 

The two were still there at lunch, 176 for six, with Chirimuuta on 70 and Mashinge 45.

 

They took the score to 192, a stand of 95, before Mashinge, on 47, drove at a ball from Madhevere which, to his consternation, kept very low and bowled him for another very fine fighting innings; Mountaineers now led by 67 runs.

 

Chirimuuta reached his century soon afterwards with help from the fielders, who, trying to run him out, gave him four overthrows to take him through to three figures.

 

It was his second first-class career century, the first actually having come nine years go in Kwekwe against Rhinos, a very fortuitous innings on that occasion, whereas this one was a very fine effort, taking him 203 balls of honest labour.

 

Wellington Masakadza provided quiet support for Chirimuuta to score nine in their partnership of 42, but then he drove a ball from Garwe where it was superbly held just above the ground by the bowler; 234 for eight.

 

Chirimuuta’s fine innings came to an end at 117, Garwe striking again as he had the century-maker edging a catch after an innings of 241 balls, with 11 fours and a six; 245 for nine.

 

He did not have the honour of finishing off the innings, though, as Faraz Akram trapped Shingi Masakadza lbw for three without addition to the total.

 

In his final first-class innings of bowling, though, he finished with the excellent figures of four wickets for 17 runs, which took his final first-class tally of wickets to 238.

 

There were two wickets each for the spinners, Mufudza and Madhevere, and Eagles now needed to score 121 to win the match.

 

This must have been much more than they expected at the start of the day, and Mountaineers were still in with a small chance of causing an upset.

 

Eagles no doubt wanted to wrap up the match today, and Kamunhukamwe drove the second ball of the innings, from Muzarawetu, to the sightscreen for four, and slashed the fifth over the slips for another boundary.

 

He lived dangerously, but his opening partner Kudzai Maunze was the first to go, well caught low down in the gully by Wellington Masakadza off Mashinge for seven; 18 for one.

 

Kamunhukamwe scored 26 off 31 balls, with four fours, before he was too late on the pull to Mashinge, and skyed a catch off the top edge to mid-off; 41 for two.

 

Two runs later Madhevere (1) fatally hooked a short ball from Mashinge to be caught at long leg.

 

Now Chibhabha and Tony Munyonga had to settle in and play more steadily to repair the damage, which they set about doing for a while.

 

However, when Munyonga on 10 tried to drive Muchawaya he was caught at mid-on, and Eagles were 64 for four.

 

Chibhabha was joined by Tinashe Nenhunzi, who batted as sensibly as he did in the first innings.

 

As victory loomed they increased the scoring rate, and finally two successive boundaries by Nenhunzi off Mashinge took Eagles home with six wickets and 12 overs to spare, though his captain may have been disappointed to be stranded on 49 not out, Nenhunzi finishing with 29.

 

Mashinge finished a good match for him by taking three of the four wickets to fall for 44 runs.

 

It had been a good fightback by Mountaineers after such poor play on the second day, but the bottom line is that Eagles are now the only undefeated team and have extended their lead at the top of the Logan Cup table.

 

2019/20 LOGAN CUP POINTS TABLE

 

TEAM

M

W

L

T

D

PT

Eagles

4

4

0

0

0

23

Mountaineers

4

3

1

0

0

17

Tuskers

4

2

2

0

0

12

Rhinos

4

1

3

0

0

6

Rangers

4

0

4

0

0

2

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende