Mashonaland retain the Logan Cup with a 2-day finish in Harare
It was a two-day finish at Country Club in Harare as Mashonaland retained the Logan Cup, winning all five matches for the second year in succession. They ran up a total of 413, with another century from Craig Evans the main feature, and then dismissed a very disappointing Academy team in the final session of the day.
In the morning Mashonaland resumed at 116 for three, five behind the Academy total, and the overnight batsmen continued in their roles of the previous evening, with Dion Ebrahim struggling to find his touch and Evans hitting the loose ball powerfully. The pitch had by now dried out completely and was once again its usual somnolent self.
Ebrahim fell for 30, bowled by a full toss from Jordane Nicolle, but Evans looked hungry for another century. He hit a ball from Sherezad Shah on to the thatched roof of the pavilion and shortly afterwards reached his fifty off 61 balls with a powerful one-bounce four over midwicket. A few mishits, though, seemed to suggest over-confidence, but he survived.
Matambanadzo, not to be outdone, hit Tom Benade for a huge six over midwicket that travelled out of the ground with one bounce. Evans slowed down as he approached his third Logan Cup century of the season, but finally reached three figures off 125 balls. At the age of 32 he is playing with greater discretion and batting better than ever before in his career.
Matambanadzo, who swung and missed frequently outside off stump, was on 49 at lunch, but he did not reach his fifty, pulling a ball from Innocent Chinyoka straight to square leg soon after the interval to depart for 49. Evans continued on his merry way, but one had the impression he had satisfied his appetite when he swung a catch to long leg to depart for 147.
With Mashonaland so far ahead and so much on top, the atmosphere seemed more akin to a batting practice as Don Campbell and Gus Mackay toyed with the tiring bowlers. Campbell was out for 39, bowled sweeping at Stuart Matsikenyeri, while Mackay, without looking fully in touch and only occasionally violent, ran to his fifty off 30 balls. He then hit a couple of his usual sixes before skying a catch to backward point off Shah, out for 66.
Shah followed this by taking the final two wickets quickly to wrap up the innings for 413 at tea. The best bowler, though, was Nicolle, who took the first three wickets to fall and again looked a class above his fellows with his pace, accuracy and movement off the pitch.
The Academy, 291 behind, soon lost Neeten Chouhan (3), who moved too far across his stumps and was yorked behind his legs by Mackay. Mackay struck again to dismiss Charles Coventry (9) lbw, with the ball perhaps low enough to clip the bails; when Innocent Chinyoka (2) played a ball on to his stumps for the second time in the match, this time off Watambwa, the Academy were staring down the barrel at 20 for three.
Stuart Matsikenyeri, often bracketed with his former schoolmates Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza, announced his arrival at the crease with a sumptuous off-drive for four, but was very nearly caught at backward point as a pull that went wrong hit the back of his bat and lobbed in that direction. Failing to learn from this indiscretion, he skyed a catch to long leg later in the same over, from Watambwa. 25 runs off 22 balls suggested he could learn some application from Masakadza.
Captain Andre Hoffman and Conan Brewer fought back for a while, but off-spinner Trevor Gripper bowled Brewer in his first over for 9. Immediately afterwards Hoffman edged a ball well down the leg side as he tried to pull Waddington Mwayenga and was gone for 23; a two-day finish loomed.
There was an air of resignation as the batsmen struggled, got some runs and then departed. Tom Benade fought well before being bowled by a vicious spinner from Gripper for 16. Glen Barrett as usual hit mightily, with two sixes before being caught on the long-leg boundary for 21, and the match was over about four minutes into extra time. Their total of 128 gave Mashonaland victory by an innings and 163 runs.