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Rhinos and Mountaineers win big to tighten contest for Logan Cup

Timcyen Maruma and Tafadzwa Tsiga were the stars with the bat, while Ziwira, Mavuta, and Tiripano impressed with the ball in this round

Peter Moor plays through the on side  •  AFP

Peter Moor plays through the on side  •  AFP

Mid West Rhinos 304 for 9 dec. (Chisoro 56, Moor 46, Ziwira 2-28) and 347 for 8 dec. (Moor 92, Chapungu 62, Ziwira 5-62) beat Mashonaland Eagles 269 (Chigumbura 71, Chibhabha 56, Jarvis 3-42) and 120 (Mutombodzi 49, Mavuta 4-28, Madziva 3-20) by 262 runs
Mashonaland Eagles slumped to their first defeat of the season against Mid West Rhinos at Old Hararians, folding for 120 on a crumbling fourth day pitch as Rhinos wrapped up a 262-run victory.
Rhinos captain Peter Moor had opted to bat first on a strip that played flat and true on the first day, though Rhinos were not able to take full advantage of the benign conditions. Their top five, Moor included, all made starts but Tendai Chisoro, batting at no. 8, was the only Rhinos batsman to pass fifty in the first innings. A typically bellicose Chisoro struck three sixes in his unbeaten 56, adding 67 in 13 overs with Brandon Mavuta before Mavuta was dismissed for 33 by Elton Chigumbura, having what for him is a rare bowl these days.
Chigumbura's 71 held Eagles' first innings together, but they still conceded a 35-run lead. Rhinos' strong top order made a better fist of things in the second innings, with Bothwell Chapungu and Prince Masvaure both passing fifty, and Moor batting for almost four hours before falling eight runs short of what would have been his fifth first-class hundred as Rhinos declared their second innings at 347 for 8 despite seamer Honest Ziwira's maiden five-for.
Moor delayed the declaration until five overs into the final morning, which meant the Rhinos' use of the heavy roller meant the pitch broke up a little more for his bowlers. Kyle Jarvis and Neville Madziva duly tore through the top order and the tail, while Brandon Mavuta picked up four cheap middle-order wickets with his legspin, including that of Eagles captain Tino Mutombodzi for 49 to end the match after a heavy downpour had forced the players off and temporarily frustrated Rhinos' push for victory.
Mountaineers 497 (Maruma 165, Tsida 124, Mpofu 5-116) beat Matabeleland Tuskers 127 (Chatara 3-15, Mashinge 3-18) and 256 (Chari 85, Tiripano 5-56, Chatara 3-35) by an innings and 114 runs
At Harare Sports Club, reigning Logan Cup champions Mountaineers made short work of a Matabeleland Tuskers side clearly missing the quality of Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams in their middle order, with both players taking part in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Timycen Maruma's 165 helped Mountaineers to recover from a shaky start against Chris Mpofu's pace, and after he was dismissed, wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga and Donald Tiripano extended Mountaineers' advantage with a 125-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Dominating the stand, Tsiga hit Sheunopa Musekwa over long-on for a six that hit the media centre and, 15 minutes before lunch on the second day, clipped Mpofu through midwicket to bring up his maiden first-class hundred.
Their efforts allowed Mountaineers to amass 497, and Tuskers' response ran into immediate trouble when Tendai Chatara dismissed Cunningham Ncube in the third over of their innings. Chatara had begun his spell tentatively after his long injury lay-off, but he was stirred up after Ncube had not been given out caught off the third ball of the innings. Chatara noticeably increased his pace in response and in his second over he got a delivery to rise spitefully off the pitch to take a thick edge and have Ncube caught in the gully. That set the tone for the innings and, indeed, the rest of the match as Tuskers were bowled out for 127 and forced to follow on.
Brian Chari attempted a counterattack in the second dig, hitting 12 fours in his 85, but a persistent Tiripano was rewarded with figures of 5 for 56 as Tuskers' innings was wrapped up for 256.
The latest round of results leave the Logan Cup in an intriguing situation, as Eagles have 26 points and Rhinos 24 points with one match to play, and Mountaineers have 25 points with two matches in hand. On Thursday, Eagles and Mountaineers meet at Old Hararians, while Rhinos play Tuskers at Harare Sports Club.
There is also one postponed match to be played next week, when Mountaineers will face Tuskers at Old Hararians, and this extra match perhaps makes Mountaineers favourites to retain the Logan Cup.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town