ATTEMPTS by shadowy forces to paralyse Zimbabwe Cricket after the chaos that followed the country’s failure to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup in England next year appear to be failing.
The forces had been targeting key players hoping to coerce them not to be part of the game in protest over the firing of coach Heath Streak and his backroom staff.
They also want to force the dissolution of the Zimbabwe Cricket board.
However, a number of key players are now returning to domestic games being played in the country.
Key batsman Brendan Taylor, who is likely to be named the new captain, has shown interest for his country by donating to Parirenyatwa Hospital.
He has also revealed that while the World Cup failure was a painful pill to swallow, the game has to go on.
Another batsman, Craig Ervine, has also been playing the domestic matches.
On Wednesday, Harare Metropolitan Eagles kept themselves in contention for the Pro50 Championship with a 16-run victory over Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers at Harare Sports Club.
Both teams will probably admit they did not play their best cricket in this match, but the outstanding performance of the day was the innings of 75 by Elton Chigumbura that ultimately proved decisive for the Eagles.
Not far behind, though, was the gallant batting of Tuskers tail-enders Chris Mpofu and Steve Chimhamhiwa that took them within sight of victory again when all hope had seemed lost.
As Manicaland Mountaineers have a bye this round, it was an important match for Tuskers to win, as victory would have taken them to the top of the table.
For Eagles, defeat would probably have meant the end of their chances of winning this tournament.
Tuskers again won the toss and kept to their policy of putting their opponents in to bat first.
Chamu Chibhabha and Zaheer Muhammad opened the batting for Eagles against the bowling of Mpofu and Chimhamhiwa.
Muhammad departed without scoring in Mpofu’s second over, as he tried to pull a short ball but only skyed a catch to midwicket; five for one.
The bowlers kept a tight line and length, and Chibhabha never really got to terms with the attack; with the total at 17 in the eighth over, he drove a low catch to mid-on and departed for 10.
This brought together two inexperienced batsmen in Bright Njanji and Larvet Masunda, with five Pro50 matches between them in their careers.
Njanji struggled badly for runs, and had managed just one run off 26 balls when he tried a desperate pull against a short ball from Ernest Masuku and top-edged a catch to the leaping wicket-keeper, Shoun Handirisi; 22 for three after 11 overs.
Masunda briefly looked ready to score more quickly, but after making 12 off 20 balls he was stumped off John Nyumbu; 38 for four in the 16th over.
This brought in Chigumbura to join Joylord Gumbie in a difficult situation for the team.
They looked comfortable from the start, and in the 21st over Chigumbura drove Mpofu for six over long-off — remarkably, this was the first boundary of the match, which he followed up with two fours later in the over.
The momentum was changing and the pair looked quite capable of turning the innings around completely.
However, Gumbie did not stay the course, as after making 25 off 50 balls he drove a ball from Nyumbu back gently to the bowler, who took a catch off his bootlaces; 93 for five in the 28th over.
Liam Roche settled in well with Chigumbura, who reached his fifty off 55 balls.
Roche enjoyed a life on 18, when the fine-leg fielder failed to hold a lofted stroke, but in the next over he was bowled for 19 off 25 balls by a good ball from Ainsley Ndlovu.
The partnership had added 52 off exactly 52 balls, the score now being 145 for six in the 37th over.
Brighton Zhawi scored a single before he was given out caught at the wicket slashing at a ball from Nyumbu outside the off stump.
Tapiwa Mufudza did a useful job assisting Chigumbura, who seemed to lose some of his fluency at this stage.
Chigumbura finally fell for 75, scored off 92 balls, as he pulled a ball from Mpofu to the fielder on the midwicket boundary.
Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 212-9 in 50 overs (Elton Chigumbura 75, Joylord Gumbie 25, Tapiwa Mufudza 24; John Nyumbu 3/29, Stephen Chimhamhiwa 2/40, Chris Mpofu 2/45)
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers – 196 all out in 45.1 overs (Chris Mpofu 41, Stephen Chimhamhiwa 31, Ernest Masuku 24; Tapiwa Mufudza 3/25, Brighton Zhawi 3/42, Tanyaradzwa Munyaradzi 2/31)
Harare Metropolitan Eagles won by 16 runs — Sports Reporter/zimcricket