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News

Matabeleland favourites to retain title

The Faithwear inter-provincial one day tournament gets underway with champions Matabeleland starting their title defence against close rivals Mashonaland at Harare Sports Club

Cricinfo staff
30-Jan-2006
The Faithwear inter-provincial one day tournament gets underway today with champions Matabeleland starting their title defence against close rivals Mashonaland at Harare Sports Club.
Matabeleland are the only province known to have named a full-strength squad. Ian Engelbrecht, a left-arm spinner who bats in the middle order, has been named captian, a reward for his excellent perfomances for Queens Sports Club in the Matabeleland Cricket Association First League . Engelbrecht takes over the post from Mluleki Nkala, who is now the Matabeleland coach and who seems to be losing a battle against a nagging ankle injury.
Terrence Duffin, Tinashe Hove, Gregory Strydom, Charles Coventry and new kid on the block Tafadzwa Ngulube form a strong batting line-up for Matabeleland. Ngulube, a top oder batsman who is expected to take the wicketkeeper's position from Coventry, has been duly rewarded for stunning form with the bat and behind the stumps for MCA log-leaders Bulawayo Sports Club.
Pace bowler Christopher Mpofu, the leading wicket taker in last year's tournament, is expected to lead the Matabeleland bowling attack with Tawanda Mupariwa, who has now recovered from an injury which ruled him out of the home tours against New Zealand and India last year. Left-arm spinner Keith Dabengwa leads the spin attack with Engelbrecht.
Mashonaland will be an unknown quantity after their selectors decided to ignore all players from six clubs controversially barred by the province. Since those clubs contain almost all the national cricketers, it means Matabeleland will field an inexperienced side made up of players from the development squad.
Matabeleland ended Mashonaland's dominance of provincial competitions last year, winning the Fairweather tournament with a 100% record. Their best player was Mark Vermuelen, but he is not available after he sustained a self-inflicted injury during the Zimbabwe Under-23 side's tour to South Africa last year. Vermeulen reportedly hit a door after getting what be believed was a bad decision. His hand was until recently in a plaster cast. Gavin Ewing is also absent after picking up a stress fracture in South Africa.
In Monday's other match, Midlands take on newboys Masvingo at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy.
Five rounds of matches will be played in the tournament with the last games set for next Tuesday.
Fairweather tournament
January 30 Mashonaland v Matabeleland Harare Sports Club
Midlands v Masvingo Zimbabwe Cricket Academy
February 1 Mashonaland v Manicaland Zimbabwe Cricket Academy
Matabeleland v Midlands Harare Sports Club
February 3 Midlands v Mashonaland Harare Sports Club
Manicaland v Masvingo Zimbabwe Cricket Academy
February 5 Mashonaland v Masvingo Alexandra Sports Club
Matabeleland v Manicaland Harare Sports Club
February 7 Matabeleland v Masvingo Harare Sports Club
Manicaland v Midlands Zimbabwe Cricket Academy