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.
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.
Salman Butt replaces Hafeez in Lahore Qalandars squad
This is the most high-profile event Butt will be part of after his return in 2016 from his five-year suspension for his involvement in the the spot-fixing scandal of 2010. He will play under the leadership of AB de Villiers, who was handed the captaincy by Qalandars after Hafeez fractured his thumb.
Hafeez’s absence will be a major setback for the Qalandars, who had picked up the allrounder in the Platinum category and had named him captain in a bid to rectify their poor PSL record: the team has finished bottom of the table in every season so far.
Hafeez injured his thumb while attempting a return catch against Karachi Kings on Saturday. He will undergo surgery later this week and is expected to be out of the game for at least one month.
With Hafeez out, the Qalandars were looking for someone to provide stability and experience as an anchor at No.3, a role that Butt appears suited for. Before he was banned, Butt’s T20 strike rate was 107.98, considered adequate in the 2007-2010 period. His overall domestic T20 strike rate is 113.55, and he has scored 2278 runs at an average of 36.15. Butt’s consistency is also highlighted by his runs-per-innings figure of 30.4, second only to Babar Azam among Pakistani batsmen who have at least 2000 T20 runs.
Butt’s T20 numbers have looked better since his return from the ban. He averages 55.35 since 2016 – the highest for any Pakistan player with a minimum of 500 runs. Azam is the next best, at 39.89, in that same period. Butt has made 941 runs in 24 T20 innings with nine half-centuries since his return to senior competitive cricket.
Butt, 34, marked his comeback in January 2016 with a century in the National One-Day Cup, and went on to finish the tournament as its second-highest run-getter, with 536 runs at an average of 107.20. He then led his first-class team, Water and Power Development Authority, to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title, scoring twin hundreds in the final to finish the season with 741 runs at 49.40. He was also the second-highest run-getter in the National T20 Cup in 2018, with 350 runs at 70.00.
He was 26 when he was banned, having played 33 Tests, 78 ODIs and 24 T20Is by then. Since then, he has attended anti-corruption rehabilitation programmes conducted by the PCB, taken part in social work, and publicly apologised, though he had pleaded his innocence until 2013. The two other players punished at the time, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, have also returned to cricket after completing their bans. Amir has been successfully re-integrated into the national set-up, and played all three formats for Pakistan since, while also featuring for Karachi Kings for a fourth consecutive season in the PSL.
Over the last two years, Butt’s national selection had been mooted on occasion, but the PCB has treaded cautiously on the matter. Butt’s consistent domestic performances had impressed Pakistan’s previous head coach Waqar Younis and former captain Misbah-ul-Haq, while the lack of stability in the opening combination ensured the topic of his return stayed relevant. The current coaching staff, led by Mickey Arthur, have also been impressed by Butt, but have left it to the selectors and the PCB to decide on his possible return.
Butt could have been back in the Pakistan squad as early as their tour of the West Indies in the first half of 2017, with Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman then, publicly clearing his selection. However, with the revelations of spot-fixing in the PSL that season, the climate for Butt’s prospective return turned adverse, though he had no connection with any of the players in the scandal. That forced the selectors to wait longer, and a year later, they decided to look beyond Butt and try out younger prospects.
Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore to kick off IPL 2019
The 2019 IPL will begin with defending champions Chennai Super Kings taking on Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on March 23.
The schedule for the first two weeks of the tournament was made public on Tuesday, listing out the first 17 matches, which will take place over two weeks.
The announcement from the IPL’s governing body, though, came with a caveat: the dates are subject to changes, because the 2019 general elections across India are scheduled around the same time period.
“Once the election dates are released we will address any issues with the first two weeks and also prepare a schedule for the remainder of the season working with the local authorities around the polling dates,” a statement on the IPL website said.
More to follow…
Oman 24 all out after Scotland bowlers wreak havoc
Scotland 26 for no loss (Coetzer 16*, Cross 10*) beat Oman 24 all out (Khawar 15, Smith 4-7, Neill 4-7) by ten wickets
Oman slumped to the fourth-lowest List-A score in cricket history, after they were bowled out by Scotland for only 24 runs in Al Amarat.
In response, Scotland chased the target down in the fourth over, winning with 280 balls to spare. In all, only 20.3 overs were bowled in the match.
Six Oman batsmen were out for ducks, while No. 3 Khawar Ali top-scored with 15. His boundary off Neill in the 12th over was the only four of Oman’s innings.
It was Smith who did the early damage, taking three of Oman’s first six wickets to reduce them to 17 for 6. Thereafter, Neill took over, taking the last three wickets, without Oman adding a run as they slid from 24 for 7 to 24 all out. Oman’s eight-run partnership between Ajay Lalcheta (2) and Khawar – for the fifth wicket – was their highest.
Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross hit four boundaries in Scotland’s innings – including a four to finish the match – which lasted only 20 deliveries. The teams face off again on Wednesday for the second one-dayer, while the final match is scheduled for Friday at the same venue.
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