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Mountaineers Eye Title Defence

MOUNTAINEERS will be looking to make it three first-class titles in a row as they begin their Logan Cup defence away to Rhinos at Kwekwe Sports Club, while Eagles will be hosting Tuskers at Harare Sports Club in the season-opening fixtures beginning today.

The four-day matches will be followed by the first round of the one-day competition, the Pro50 Championship, featuring the same pairings at the same venues on Saturday.

After retaining the Logan Cup and reaching the Pro50 Championship final last season, Mountaineers will begin the 2018-19 campaign as the favourites for both titles.

Mountaineers coach Shepherd Makunura yesterday said the Mutare-based outfit have clear intentions to defend their title.

“We are obviously looking to defend our Logan Cup title and try and make it three out of three.

“Being the team to beat obviously comes with a bit of pressure, but we are all relishing the challenge ahead and hopefully we can play some good cricket and defend our title and also hopefully win the Pro50 Championship,” Makunura said.

Mountaineers have retained all their players from last season, with Tinotenda Mawoyo still the captain of the side that boasts the likes of Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza as well as national team players Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara and Wellington Masakadza.

“We have retained last season’s squad, but there are a few guys that are keen on making a comeback into national sides such as Vusi Sibanda, Innocent Kaia and Kevin Kasuza. So we should expect a lot from these guys,” Makunura said.

Their credentials will, however, face a litmus test at the hands of their first-round opponents, Rhinos, who will be desperate to do justice to the talent at their disposal.

On paper, Rhinos are arguably the strongest franchise side, with national team players Brendan Taylor, Kyle Jarvis, Graeme Cremer, Peter Moor, Neville Madziva, Brandon Mavuta, Tendai Chisoro, Prince Masvaure and Tarisai Musakanda in their books.

Eagles, now coached by Stuart Matsikenyeri, will be eager to put down a marker as they seek to replicate the performances that saw them winning a coveted treble in the 2015-16 season.

With former Rising Stars players Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Richard Ngarava, Tony Munyonga, Rugare Magarira, Ryan Murray and Faraz Akram having joined them, Eagles will be strong contenders for all the domestic titles.

Apart from the starlets, the Harare-based side boast massive experience in the form of captain Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura and Regis Chakabva, as well as Luke Jongwe who has joined from Tuskers.

“I expect Eagles to make steps toward getting back to the top of domestic cricket where I feel we belong,” Matsikenyeri said.

“There is massive talent and a big team is not the easiest to manage, but that’s a good problem to have.”

Tuskers also have a new coach, Douglas Hondo, but the Bulawayo-based franchise have not made much changes to their playing staff.

Craig Ervine, John Nyumbu, Chris Mpofu and Brian Chari still form the nucleus of the team.

“I would like to bring in a positive and progressive brand of cricket, where guys have clearly defined roles and must be effective in executing them,” Hondo said.

DOMESTIC CRICKET

FIXTURES: 2018-19 SEASON

Date Game Fixture

3-6 Dec Logan Cup Eagles v Tuskers

Rhinos v Mountaineers (HSC) 8 Dec Pro50 Eagles v Tuskers Harare Sports Club

Rhinos v Mountaineers Kwekwe Sports Club

12 Dec Pro50 Eagles v Rhinos Harare Sports Club

Tuskers v Mountaineers Queens Sports Club

14-17 Dec Logan Cup Eagles v Rhinos Harare Sports Club

Tuskers v Mountaineers Queens Sports Club

12 Jan Pro50 Mountaineers v Eagles Mutare Sports Tuskers v Rhinos Queens Sports Club

14-17 Jan Logan Cup Mountaineers v Eagles Mutare Sports Tuskers v Rhinos Queens Sports Club

26 Jan Pro50 Mountaineers v Rhinos Mutare Sports Tuskers v Eagles Queens Sports 28-31 Jan Logan Cup Mountaineers v Rhinos Mutare Sports Tuskers v Eagles Queens Sports

6 Feb Pro50 Rhinos v Eagles Kwekwe Sports

Mountaineers v Tuskers Mutare Sports

8-11 Feb Logan Cup Rhinos v Eagles Kwekwe Sports

Mountaineers v Tuskers Mutare Sports 19 Feb Pro50 Eagles v

Mountaineers Harare Sports

Rhinos v Tuskers Kwekwe Sports

21-24 Feb Logan Cup Eagles v

Mountaineers Harare Sports

Rhinos v Tuskers Kwekwe Sports

11-16 Mar T20 Tournament TBA — Zimcricket/Sports Reporter.

Source :

The Herald

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