Eagles fight back before Tuskers re-seize control


Tuskers – 214 and 79 in 33.4 overs (Nkosana Mpofu 23, Brian Chari 16, Ernest Masuku 12; Tapiwa Mufudza 4/18, Cuthbert Musoko 2/10, Patrick Mambo 2/11)

Eagles – 119 and 71-5 in 37 overs (Cuthbert Musoko 14, Ashley Mufandauya 12, Rodney Mupfudza 12; Luke Jongwe 3/8, Sheunopa Musekwa 1/1, Milton Shumba 1/7)


Day 2 – Stumps: Eagles need 104 runs


Eagles staged a remarkable fightback today as they skittled Tuskers for a paltry 79 before their own woeful batting in the final innings of the match found them still 105 runs short of victory with five wickets left by the close of play at Harare Sports Club.


Eagles began the day at their overnight score of 83 for seven, with Faraz Akram on eight and Cuthbert Musoko four, in reply to Tuskers’ first-innings score of 214.


The batsmen started a little shakily at times against the bowling of Stephen Chimhamhiwa and John Nyumbu, until Musoko opened his shoulders and drove Nyumbu for six over long-on.


Both batsmen then rapidly gained in confidence and started producing the finest strokes of the Eagles innings to date as they brought up the team hundred.


Akram played some handsome strokes until, with his score on 20, he sliced a drive off Nyumbu high to be caught at backward point; 106 for eight.


Keith Jaure made three before he dabbed a catch to gully at 119 for nine, and without addition Musoko’s innings of 25 came to an end as he stepped out, missed a big swing at a ball from Nyumbu and was smartly stumped by Cunningham Ncube.


Tuskers therefore had a good lead of 95 on the first innings and had the opportunity virtually to ensure victory if they made a good fist of their second innings.


Tuskers again opened their second innings with Aarsh Jha and Nkosana Mpofu against the bowling of Richard Ngarava and Akram.


Most of the runs came from Mpofu, and the pair batted well together until, in the last over before lunch, Jha (4) edged a ball from Akram to the keeper and, unusually for modern players, showed the good sportsmanship to walk off immediately without waiting for the umpire; 27 for one.


Brian Chari took his place when play resumed after lunch, and having got a single he was missed off Musoko, a low chance at second slip.


He went on to score a brisk 16 before edging Musoko, and he also walked off, at 48 for two, without waiting for the umpire’s verdict.


Ncube came in and survived a fierce lbw shout to his first delivery.


Tinashe Nenhunzi took his third successive catch as wicketkeeper when he removed Mpofu for 23, also off Musoko, and Tuskers were not looking too happy at 53 for three.


Ncube and Charles Kunje allowed the bowlers to get on top of them, scoring only one bye in partnership in three overs, before Patrick Mambo had Kunje caught in the slips without scoring.


Eagles were jubilant, certain that they were now coming back to the game; and, with the score 54 for four and the lead 149, they had some reason for it.


An edge brought Milton Shumba a single, while Ncube still had not scored off 14 deliveries.


He never did score; two balls later, after the drinks interval, he was hit on the foot playing across a low full toss from Mambo and given out lbw.


Tuskers seemed to be throwing their chances away with a score of 55 for five.


Shumba also became strokeless, but Jongwe briefly gave hope, as he struck two boundaries, taking the score to 63.


But then he played a weak stroke at a ball from Tapiwa Mufudza, to be caught at slip for eight, and Tuskers sank deeper into their mire.


Worse was to come, as Shumba popped up a catch off a weak stroke to Mufudza after scoring one off 21 balls.


At 64 for seven, Tuskers were in effect surrendering their advantage without a fight.


Nyumbu could add only a single before giving Jaure his first wicket, caught in the gully at 69 for eight.


Ernest Masuku alone put up anything of a fight, hitting a six and a four before being caught near the square-leg boundary off Mufudza for 12; 79 for nine.


With last man Sheu Musekwa popping up a catch second ball, Tuskers had crumbled for 79 all out.


Mufudza took four wickets for 18 runs, and there were two cheap wickets each for Musoko and Mambo.


It was a fine fightback by Eagles, who took full advantage of the appalling cricket played by their opponents.


Eagles were set 175 to win, with 39 overs left to play on this the second day, and there seemed on the face of it little doubt, in view of the Tuskers’ abysmal batting surrender, that Eagles had turned the match and would win it.


But this is not their usual team, and their side in this match is very lacking in experience, especially as far as batting is concerned.


Worst of all, Kudzai Maunze, their one experienced batsman, took a bad blow on the ankle and had to leave the field during the morning.


It left him unable to walk and, with runners no longer permitted in cricket, therefore virtually unable to bat today.


Eagles sent in their two debutants, Rodney Mupfudza and Ashley Mufandauya, to open the batting against the bowling of Masuku and Musekwa.


Mufandauya unwisely tried to pull a bouncer from Masuku before he had scored, was struck in the visor and retired hurt, with only a single to Mupfudza on the board.


Tony Munyonga replaced him, and the Tuskers bowlers did all they could to make up for their dismal batting performance.


After six overs only three runs had been scored, and the batsmen were in danger of capitulating as their opponents had done.


Sure enough, Munyonga, who faced 18 balls without scoring, finally lashed out at a ball from Musekwa and lobbed a catch towards extra cover.


Eagles were five for one in the eighth over, and Mufandauya returned to the crease to join Mupfudza.


Mufandauya very nearly played the third ball he faced from Musekwa into his wicket, and in the next over popped up a ball from Chimhamhiwa just away from the fielders.


After 10 overs the score was six for one.


Finally, in the 12th over, bowled by Masuku, the number of runs overtook that of overs, as first Mufandauya drove a three and then Mupfudza the first four of the innings, both on the off side.


The youthful partnership took the score to 30 in the 15th over before Mufandauya stepped right in front of a straight ball from Jongwe and was lbw for 12.


Nenhunzi was next in, another inexperienced player, so the balance of the match was now back in Tuskers’ favour.


Jongwe then struck another blow with a bouncer that struck Mupfudza on the arm and caused him to retire hurt.


And so it happened, as in one over Jongwe had Nenhunzi caught at the wicket and then Mambo lbw second ball, to send Eagles stumbling to 38 for four.


Musoko arrived at the crease to join Akram, and they added 23 runs together, although never looking confident.


The partnership was broken when Musoko, who with 14 had done most of the scoring, let fly at a ball from Shumba but skyed a catch to extra cover; 61 for five.


With Mufudza, a tail-ender, now joining Akram, with more than 100 runs required for victory, Eagles now appeared as good as doomed to defeat.


Yet this pair survived the day, and Eagles still have hope tomorrow of claiming a victory that neither team has really deserved, if Maunze and Mupfudza are fit to bat and can produce an outstanding innings between them when it is so badly needed.


At Old Hararians, Remembrance Nyathi’s career-best 160, which saw him surpassing 2 000 runs in first-class cricket, powered Rhinos to a first-innings total of 406 on the second day of their Logan Cup match against Rangers.


His brilliant knock came off 312 balls and included 18 fours and two sixes.


Daniel Zvidzai then scored his maiden first-class half-century to give Rangers’ reply a modicum of respectability, as they ended the day at 133 for seven, trailing by 273 runs.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende