Debutant stars as Eagles snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

Logan Cup

Tuskers – 214 and 79 in 33.4 overs (Nkosana Mpofu 23, Brian Chari 16, Ernest Masuku 12; Tapiwa Mufudza 4/18, Cuthbert Musoko 2/10, Patrick Mambo 2/11)

Eagles – 119 and 177-8 in 71.2 overs (Rodney Mupfudza 55*, Faraz Akram 35, Keith Jaure 21*; Luke Jongwe 3/26, Sheunopa Musekwa 3/31, Milton Shumba 1/19)

 

Eagles won by two wickets

 

The scorecard shows an innings of 55 not out by the debutant Rodney Mupfudza as the main contributor to a thrilling two-wicket victory by Eagles over Tuskers, against all the odds, at Harare Sports Club today.

 

True, Mupfudza showed admirable composure and some good strokes in his innings, as well as excellent temperament as he completed the chase to victory, giving Eagles, totally unexpectedly, a fifth victory in five matches in this Logan Cup competition.

 

But Tuskers will be cursing themselves bitterly for the dismal performance of their own slip fielders, who missed one chance after another as Mupfudza and his main partner, Faraz Akram, who scored 35, settled in during the morning.

 

One chance after another went down early on from both batsmen, and had even one of these been held, Tuskers would almost certainly be celebrating victory instead.

 

Tuskers will also rue their dismal first-innings score of 79 all out, that badly wasted a first-innings lead of 95 in a match where the highest innings total was their own first innings of 214.

 

They had a golden opportunity to hand a much weakened Eagles team their first defeat of the season, and they threw it away in the most amazing fashion.

 

Eagles began the day with the score of 71 for five wickets, chasing a target of 175; Akram was on eight and Tapiwa Mufudza eight.

 

In the first over of day, from Sheunopa Musekwa, Mufudza scored a two, and it would have been wiser for him to hold his end up and let Akram as the better batsman lead the way.

 

However, off the final delivery of the first over he went on an ambitious drive and skyed a catch to mid-off, leaving the score 73 for six.

 

This brought in Kudzai Maunze, the acting captain and only experienced batsman of the side, who had been unable to bat on the previous day owing to a leg injury, and still walking and running with difficulty.

 

His leg did not get too much exercise, though: he popped a two over midwicket in an over from Musekwa, edged a four that was almost a chance between the legs of first slip, and then edged a catch to the keeper to be out for six.

 

At 80 for seven, Mupfudza, who had retired hurt with 12, now resumed his innings, and this pair appeared to be Eagles’ final forlorn hope.

 

The score kept moving, although the slips were kept busy with one edge after another coming their way and often being missed — a poor showing from them.

 

Akram on 12 was twice missed again in the slips off successive balls, the second chance going through to the boundary to bring up the team hundred.

 

The keeper then joined the slips in missing a chance, as Akram reached the other end and edged a ball to him.

 

Runs began to come more readily now, as the batsmen began to find the middle of the bat and so gave the slip fielders less chance to show their poor form.

 

In that period probably between about five and seven chances went down, none really easy, but certainly at first-class level most of them should have been held.

 

Akram in particular played some impressive cover drives and the score steadily rose as 120 was passed.

 

The stand was finally broken 10 minutes before lunch, when Akram, on 35, tried to pull a short ball from Ernest Masuku and found in Musekwa a fielder able to hold a simple catch at midwicket.

 

The pair had survived numerous lives to put on 56 together, and the score was now 138 for eight; the last two wickets had to score 39 runs to win.

 

Keith Jaure joined Mupfudza, who was now on 38.

 

Lunch was taken with the score 140 for eight, with Mupfudza on 40 and Jaure yet to score; 35 more runs needed for victory.

 

Afterwards the pair continued to resist the bowling with great determination, and Tuskers could feel the match slipping away from them, especially when Jaure began to hit out and swung a ball from Nyumbu over the leg boundary for six.

 

The batsmen ran three to deep midwicket off the next delivery, and this left only 10 more runs needed for victory.

 

Mupfudza lofted a two over mid-on and then cut over point for two more to reach his fifty off 145 balls and take the score to 172 — three more runs needed for victory.

 

In the next over, bowled by Musekwa, Jaure took a single to midwicket, and then Mupfudza clinched victory by stepping down the pitch to the next ball and clipping it past midwicket for four to clinch this remarkable victory.

 

Eagles celebrated in glorious fashion, as well they might.

 

It falls to few teams to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as they did — or should it read that Tuskers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory?

 

While they celebrate, though, Eagles will do well, after toasting Mupfudza, to toast the Tuskers slip cordon, and to remember seriously that the poor form of their opponents contributed even more to their victory than any of their own players.

 

Did they suffer from over-confidence when they had such a strong grip on the match, or did they perhaps choke instead at the prospect of a victory over Eagles?

 

Only they will know the answer to that, and they will need to learn from it.

 

At Old Hararians, Rhinos barely broke a sweat as they condemned Rangers to an innings defeat in the other Logan Cup match.

 

The day started off with Rangers resuming at their overnight score of 133 for seven but they only added 13 runs in nine overs before they were dismissed, leaving them trailing Rhinos’ first-innings total by 260 runs.

 

Rhinos enforced the follow-on but Rangers crumbled for 89 within 29 overs, succumbing to a heavy defeat by an innings and 171 runs.

 

Johnathan Campbell was the only Rangers batsman to offer some resistance, scoring a fighting 55, with seven boundaries, off 76 deliveries as four of his team-mates went out for ducks while the rest failed to go beyond nine runs.

 

2019/20 LOGAN CUP POINTS TABLE

 

TEAM

M

W

L

T

D

PT

Eagles

5

5

0

0

0

28

Mountaineers

4

3

1

0

0

17

Tuskers

5

2

3

0

0

13

Rhinos

5

2

3

0

0

12

Rangers

5

0

5

0

0

2

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