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Mountaineers in false start

ASHER MOYO

SPORTS REPORTER

MUTARE-The defending champions Mountaineers had a false start to the 2023/24 Pro50 championships which kick- started last Friday. The Mountain Goats suffered back to back defeats in the hands of Rhinos.

The Pro50 championship action got the Zimbabwe Cricket’s 2023/24 season underway with the round robin fixtures  expected to run up to November 26. The final is scheduled to take place on December 2.

In their opening match, Mountaineers suffered a four wickets defeat before falling by eight wickets on Sunday.

 Both matches were played at Mutare Sports Club.

On Friday, Mountaineers, chose to bat, enjoyed a fine start by reaching 53 for one and 135 for two wickets thanks mainly to fine innings of 63 off 84 balls by Joylord Gumbie and 96 off 86 balls by Tony Munyonga.

 Dane Schadendorf contributed 27, the score was a good 220 for four when Munyonga was out in the 40th over.

Mountaineers finished at 295-7 in 50 overs while Rhinos managed 296-6 in 44.3 overs.

Rhinos’ Tarisai Musakanda put in a brilliant performance with the bat and hit 83 not out. His performance powered the visitors to a four wicket victory with an over to spare. Carl Mumba was good with the ball and took two wickets for 32 in seven overs.

In the reverse fixture played on Sunday at the same venue, the hosts were 295 all out in 49.3 overs while Rhinos were 298-2 in 39 overs.

Mountaineers’ Spencer Magodo was impressive with the bat with a match inning of 75 runs. Dave Schadendorf did not disappoint as he contributed 47 while Kevin Kasuza scored 38 off 25 balls. Kasuza’s partnership with Gumbie contributed 63 runs in eight overs.

Musakanda again was 81 not out as Rhinos clinched their second victory. Rhinos’ Antum Naqvi finished with a brilliant 128 not out off 93 balls, with five sixes and 12 fours. His partnership with Musakanda added to 202 runs in not more than 25 overs.

Naqvi made life difficult for Mountaineers[z1]  with the ball as he took three wickets. It was Musakanda who hit the winning boundary, his 81 coming off 72 balls with two sixes and seven fours.

Despite the slow start, Mountaineers’ General Manager Terry Nyakurimwa remains optimistic that his charges will pick up in the coming games.

“It’s more or less the same squad as last season. We have a few additions that’s Dane Schadendorf who is joining us  from Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and Muhammad Salman Mirza a  bowler who joins from Pakistan.We welcome our new head coach Stuart Matsikenyeri  who is taking over from  Njabulo Ncube. Ncube is now with the Tuskers technical team. The double century former Mountaineers player, Matsikenyeri brings a lot of experience to our technical team and he is the current national batting coach,” said Nyakurimwa.

In other matches played last weekend, Eagles won both matches. On Friday Eagles beat Rocks by six runs   before a three wicket victory on Sunday.

Mountaineers will take on Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club this Friday while Tuskers will play their first game against Eagles at Harare Sports Club. The two teams will complete their back to back fixture on Sunday at the same venue.


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