Tendai Chatara led a rampant Mountaineers bowling attack that turned the tables on Tuskers in their Logan Cup match at Harare Sports Club on Thursday, as Tuskers’ fine performance in the field was not matched by their batting.
Tuskers had promised so much, but their batsmen crumbled weakly as Mountaineers turned on the heat, and in the normal course of events they look likely to succumb to a heavy defeat on the third day tomorrow.
Mountaineers began the day on 261 for seven wickets in their first innings, with Donald Tiripano on 44 and Natsai M’shangwe 27.
Tiripano only added a single to his score before Sheunopa Musekwa removed him with his first delivery of the day, which cut back in sharply and trapped him lbw.
Tiripano had played a fine solid innings to steady his team, 45 off 134 balls.
M’shangwe did not last much longer, either, as he edged a catch to the keeper for 30 to give Chris Mpofu his first wicket of the innings; 270 for nine wickets.
Mpofu finished off the innings with a second, as he moved a ball back unexpectedly in to Wellington Masakadza (7), who shouldered arms and had his stumps shattered.
Chatara had not yet got off the mark, so the innings closed for 277, a fine performance by the beleaguered Tuskers team, while apart from Masakadza and Tiripano Mountaineers had been unimpressive on a fine batting pitch.
Ernest Masuku took three wickets for 73 runs, while there were two each for Mpofu, Musekwa and Ainsley Ndlovu.
Taffy Mupariwa and Nkosana Mpofu opened the batting for Tuskers against the bowling of Tendai Chatara and Shingi Masakadza.
Chatara proved particularly testing, and he eventually removed Mupariwa with a ball moving away and taking the edge for a slip catch; Mupariwa had struggled to score four and the total was 17 for one in the ninth over.
It was a tough battle against fine bowling, and the danger wasn’t over when the new-ball bowlers were rested.
Tiripano and M’shangwe came on just before lunch, and right on the interval Tiripano trapped Nkosana Mpofu lbw for 22.
The total was on 29 and Brian Chari still had not got off the mark after facing 22 balls.
He was joined by Craig Ervine after the break, and the two looked to handle the situation positively.
Chari had some good fortune when his score was nine, as he skyed a ball attempting a big hit off M’shangwe, and it should not have been a difficult catch for Chatara at mid-on, but, perhaps troubled by the sun, he completely misjudged it.
He then attacked the bowling rather recklessly and did not last long, as in the next over Tiripano had him caught in the slips for 21, and Tuskers were 56 for three wickets down.
Cunningham Ncube scored nine, but was then dismissed lbw by M’shangwe; 67 for four.
He was followed in and out by Charles Kunje (1), another lbw decision, this time to Tiripano, at 78 for five.
Ervine was still there, picking up runs easily and steadily, but he was not in the limelight while wickets were falling regularly at the other end.
Bright Phiri scored only three before M’shangwe diddled him too, misreading the ball, withdrawing his bat and being bowled at 84 for six.
Tuskers have such a long tail to their batting order and these were now the only partners left for Ervine, who had reached 20 without any trouble at all.
Perhaps the rapid fall of his partners finally penetrated Ervine’s imperturbability, as in Tiripano’s next over he was dropped at third slip from a low chance, and then played and missed the next ball.
In Tiripano’s next over he was again dropped in the slips; his composure completely gone, he flashed wildly at the next ball and this edge was held.
It was a very disappointing dismissal for such an experienced batsman; he still had 20 and he left with Tuskers on 90 and with three tail-end wickets remaining.
Masuku decided there was now nothing to be lost by hitting out, and he slammed a ball from M’shangwe over long-on to bring up the 100.
Mpofu never tried to display his famed big hitting, and made five off 20 balls before he was caught at slip off M’shangwe; 113 for eight.
Musekwa lasted five balls without addition before M’shangwe bowled him, and with last man Ndlovu in Tuskers still needed 15 runs to save the possibility of having to follow on.
They scored only six of them, including an overthrow for four off Masuku’s pad, and then this batsman, attempting another big hit off Chatara, was comprehensively bowled for 24, which made him the top scorer of the innings of 119.
Four batsmen had reached 20, but made nothing more of their good starts; the other seven scored 22 between them.
M’shangwe returned the interesting bowling figures of four wickets for 67 runs off 14 overs, while Chatara, bowling very well, took three for 15 off 10.4 and Tiripano three for 13 off 11.
The pitch was not quite the batting paradise that had been expected, as it did give some movement to all types of bowlers, but certainly totals of over 300 should have been scored on it.
Mountaineers rejected the possibility of bowling out Tuskers a second time and having two days off rather than probably one, and decided to bat again with a lead of 158 runs.
So Tino Mawoyo and Kevin Kasuza opened Mountaineers’ second innings, while Taffy Mupariwa tried the experiment of putting the left-arm spinner Ndlovu on to bowl the first over.
Mawoyo hit his second ball over mid-off for four, but these were to be his only runs, as at the other end he was caught low down in the gully off Masuku; eight for one.
Hamilton Masakadza got off the mark by pulling a ball from Masuku for six, but otherwise the batsmen took their time against keen bowling.
Masakadza took heavy toll of short-pitched balls with ferocious pulls, and reached 32, when he drove Masuku uppishly into the covers and was caught at 57 for two.
Innocent Kaia came in seemingly determined to hit at everything, and lofted the second ball he faced over long-on for six.
After a couple more wild swings that failed to connect, he cooled down and began to bat more normally.
Kasuza fell to the occasional bowling of Nkosana Mpofu, pulling a ball to be caught near the long-leg boundary, for 33; 64 for three wickets.
Timycen Maruma, in a rich vein of form, played an attacking game, hitting three fours in an over from Musekwa, but was lbw to Ndlovu, attempting another big hit, for 28 off 25 balls; 124 for four.
Play finished at 139 for four wickets, a lead of 297 with six wickets still in hand; Kaia had 37 and Shingi Masakadza four.
Barring exceptional circumstances, Tuskers appear to be doomed to another heavy defeat, and it is to be hoped they can lose with honour to the Logan Cup champions.