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Carl Mumba’s eight-for lifts Rhinos to the top of Logan Cup table



Results Summary

Zimbabwe’s domestic season is underway after the first round of Logan Cup matches in Harare and Kwekwe.

Fast bowler Carl Mumba burst back onto the Zimbabwean domestic scene with a match haul of 8 for 24 to demolish the reigning Logan Cup champions Mountaineers at Kwekwe Sports Club. Building on captain Tarisai Musakanda’s maiden first-class hundred, Rhinos reached 232 in their first innings, the highest score of the match.

Peter Moor‘s second-innings fifty helped Rhinos set Mountaineers 245 to win despite Donald Tiripano‘s 5 for 42. That total was well beyond them when Michael Chinouya’s incisions rocked the top order, and Mumba then tore through the tail to pick up the remarkable career-best figures of 6 for 7 in the second innings, Moutaineers crumbling to 140 all out. There is not much room for error in the six-match Logan Cup competition this season, and the pressure is on Mountaineers not to slip up again if they are to retain the trophy.

At Harare Sports Club, persistent rain had the final say in a closely-fought contest between Mashonaland Eagles and Matabeleland Tuskers. Having been put in by Eagles captain Tino Mutombodzi, Tuskers were carried by Craig Ervine’s 141 in their first innings, reaching 313. An all-round effort from the bowlers then restricted Eagles to 284, Chris Mpofu playing a vital hand by dismissing Cephas Zhuwao when the big-hitting left-hander had raced to a 45-ball 60.

Cunningham Ncube‘s battling 77 held Tuskers together in their second innings in overcast conditions well suited to swing bowling, with no other batsman making more than 14 in the innings. Eagles bowled Tuskers out early on the final morning, and their pursuit of 211 to win fired in fits and starts but was still on track when rain stopped play.

Eagles were 155 for 4 when the weather intervened, the captains eventually shaking hands for a draw when it became apparent no further play would be possible.

On the national radar

With a couple of the established names in Zimbabwean cricket away playing T20 (and even T10) franchise cricket elsewhere, the first round of Logan Cup matches was an opportunity for those on the fringe to start staking a claim. Mumba’s dramatic return will not have gone unnoticed, while in the same game Musakanda’s maiden first-class ton showed positive signs for his continued development, with Musakanda having made the runs batting out of position as an opener. Tiripano also recorded his fourth five-wicket haul in First Class cricket during the game in Kwekwe, while in Harare Ervine’s 10th first-class hundred (as well as some summer rain), helped Tuskers secure a draw.

Top performer

Mumba had not played any professional cricket since seriously injuring his knee in Hambantota during Zimbabwe’s tour of Sri Lanka last year. The injury required reconstructive surgery on his knee, as well as nine months of rehabilitation work, but his performance against Mountaineers suggests that Mumba has lost none of his zip, and he could well find himself back in the national set-up, especially with the pace cupboards a little barer since Blessing Muzarabani’s departure for Northamptonshire.

Admittedly, Mumba was also aided by a slightly spongy patch on the Kwekwe Sports Club pitch, but no bowler from either side was able to exploit the conditions as effectively as he was. His analysis is the best in Zimbabwean first-class cricket for any bowler taking six wickets in an innings, beating that of the great bowler Joe Partridge who took 6 for 13 for this country against North-Eastern Transvaal in Pretoria back in 1955-56. However, it does fall short of the amazing feat of left-arm spinner Keith Dabengwa, who in 2006-07 took seven wickets for just one run for Westerns against Northerns in the Logan Cup at Harare Sports Club.

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‘As long as he is alive, Hope will play tomorrow’ – Brathwaite



When the best player on tour is injured, the captain and the team management tend to get nervous. Perhaps many captains would think, or even say in private, that they would do anything to ensure that he or she plays the next game. Carlos Brathwaite, West Indies’ T20I captain, said this about Shai Hope, whose back-to-back unbeaten centuries have been the visitors’ only batting beacon in Bangladesh in the past week.

Hope felt dizzy after receiving a blow to the head during Friday’s third ODI in Sylhet, but he trained with the squad on Sunday, ahead of the first T20I.

“Shai [Hope] is in beautiful batting form, fresh off two back-to-back unbeaten centuries,” Brathwaite said. “Even if Shai has to play with a stretcher, I will volunteer to carry the stretcher between the wickets. He is fine and in good spirits. He is out practicing, so hopefully he is close to 100 per cent. As long as he is alive, he will play tomorrow.”

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Brathwaite’s side will further be boosted by the return of Evin Lewis, who missed the India tour and the Bangladesh ODIs. “He is one of the better batsmen in the world. For the last 18 months or so, he has three T20I hundreds and also centuries in regional and franchise cricket all over the world.

“He is a definite plus for any team. It is a positive to have in our side. Hopefully he will deliver some big performances which will help us win the game and the series,” said Brathwaite.

But of course, injuries and unavailability have been a major bother for the West Indies. Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Jason Holder are injured, while Chris Gayle has been busy with league commitments.

“We have had some informal chats about it. We can’t do much as players if we continue to lose. We don’t have much power or say. The group of players needs to find a way to win, regardless of who is and who is not selected. When we start to win, we can pull on experiences on learning how to win games.

“Evidently you become more experienced and confident, and start creating your own brand of cricket. We haven’t been able to, because of a lot of chopping and changing for different reasons. The feeling in the dressing room is that whenever a team is picked for a tour, we put our heads together as a unit, and find a way to win games. Once we do that, West Indies cricket will find a way to the top, whichever format,” he said.

Brathwaite believes West Indies’ favourite format can get them the much-needed win in this tour, which would also be a bounce back from their wretched year in T20Is. They have won just two out of 12 games in 2018.

“The people back home deserve a Christmas gift,” he said. “We hope to close out the year with a win. We still think T20 is our premier format.

“We obviously haven’t had the results to be in the recent past proud of. But here’s a chance to turn things around and ending 2018 in a good way.”

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Williamson’s fluency allowed me to keep going – Latham



The tempo at which his team-mates – particularly Kane Williamson – built their own innings, helped Tom Latham get through some tough spells, and assisted in his getting to a seventh Test hundred.

Latham went to stumps on 121 off 256 balls – his strike rate a respectable 47 for the day – but had been much slower at the start of his knock. He had been 16 off 86 balls at one stage, and also went through another period – when he was on 50 – in which he did not score a run for 17 balls.

Williamson, meanwhile, made 91 off 93 balls. To the pair’s 162-run second wicket stand, Latham’s contribution was only 67.

“At the start of my innings, I wasn’t playing that quickly, but the way Jeet Raval played and the way Kane came and played – that took the game to the opposition and kept the scoreboard ticking over,” Latham said. “It was good for me. I could just keep going. The most important thing we talk about was making those partnerships big ones, and I managed to get a good one with Kane.

Williamson had signaled his aggressive intentions early, hitting three fours off the first three deliveries he faced. Two of those strokes were especially memorable back-foot punches either side of point, off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara. He would go on to hit 10 fours in his innings, and had little trouble finding gaps in the outfield in between the boundaries.

“Kane came out and hit the ball fantastically well – I guess he’s a world-class player and is hitting the ball unbelievably well in all conditions,” Latham said. “You look at some of the shots he plays – from ball one – those early boundaries set the tempo for his innings and he kept doing that. He’s a fantastic player and one to get a few more tips off. When guys are going like that it’s almost easier to give them the strike and let them do their thing.”

For Latham, this was his first trip to triple figures since January 2017, and breaks a relatively lean spell that goes back at least six innings. In the three Tests in the UAE, Latham mustered only one 50, and averaged 16.5 across the three Tests. Which is why, he said, it was important to start slowly and build from there.

“The slow start was about trying to get them to bowl to me as much as possible. Coming from the UAE where the conditions were a lot different, it was important for me to try and wait to score when the ball was a lot straighter, or when it was shorter or fuller.

“I didn’t have the results I wanted in the UAE, but I felt like I was hitting the ball alright. The biggest thing was the trust in my own game, and the trust that I can do it at this level. It’s been a while since I made a big score, but it was nice that I managed to do that straightaway.”

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Repeat finger blow spells trouble for Aaron Finch



Aaron Finch was taken for x-rays on a possible fractured right index finger on day three of the second Test in Perth. Finch was struck a painful blow in the 13th over of the innings by Mohammed Shami in more or less the same spot where he had twice been struck by Mitchell Starc in net sessions earlier in the summer.

The finger troubles for Finch had begun when Starc hit him on the bottom hand during training for the first ODI of the season, also in Perth against South Africa last month, and the same spot was hit by the same bowler in Australia’s main training session before the first Test in Adelaide, whereupon Finch muttered the words “same finger” before seeking treatment from the team doctor Richard Saw.

After struggling in both innings of the Adelaide Test, Finch scrapped his way to a half-century alongside Marcus Harris on day one of the Perth Test, and having reached 25 not out in the second innings was quickly wringing his right hand after the blow from Shami.

In obvious pain, Finch received extensive treatment on the field before it was decided that he must retire hurt to seek further information on the seriousness of the blow. The umpires then called for tea about a minute earlier than scheduled, and Finch did not resume in the evening session.

It’s not the first time Shami has inconvenienced an Australian batsman this series, having also struck Tim Paine on the right index finger in the second innings in Adelaide and duly creating a wave of concerns given the captain’s long history of troubles with the digit.

More to follow…

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