PROTEAS captain Faf du Plessis remains a doubt for what is set to be a historic Boxing Day Test cricket against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth. It will be the first time an official four-day Test match is played and it will also be the first pink ball day/night Test in South Africa. Du Plessis picked up a lower back injury during the third ODI against Bangladesh back in October and has not played since.
It was initially expected that he would recover in time for the Zimbabwe Test, but he confirmed during an interview on Cape Talk on Tuesday that he was still unsure whether he would be able to take part in the match.
Should Du Plessis not feature, the logical captaincy options would be AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar, who captained the Proteas at Lord’s this year in Du Plessis’ absence.
If he does miss the Zimbabwe game, Du Plessis will certainly be looking to make his return for the India Test series, which gets underway in Cape Town on January 5, 2018.
Meanwhile aggressive AGGRESSIVE Harare Metropolitan Eagles left-handed opening batsman Cephas Zhuwao says it has always been his dream to score big after he set a new Logan Cup record of 265 runs in a single innings in the comprehensive win over Midlands Rhinos at Harare Sports Club.
Zhuwao is known in local cricket as ‘‘Big Bully’’ for his brutal hitting but so often in the past he has been written off as a one-day batsman – and indeed, in 40 first-class matches before the just ended contest, his highest score was 82 at an average of only 23.
On this occasion, however, he finally put all his talent under powerful mental control as he not only ran up the highest-ever first-class Logan Cup score but also the third-highest first-class score ever made by a Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe cricket.
This score has only been beaten by Ray Gripper, who scored 279 not out against Free State in 1967/68, and Dave Houghton, 266 in a Test match against Sri Lanka in 1994/95.
Zhuwao showed superb self-discipline and concentration that he has never revealed before for long, in resolutely defending so many good deliveries for seven hours and 17 minutes, while savaging ruthlessly the bad, and scoring more than half his team’s monumental total of 501.
His innings had turned a deficit for Eagles on the first innings into a virtually certain victory by the close of the third day.
“I really can’t explain the excitement I have after scoring a massive record breaking 265 in one innings. It has been always my wish to score big and break records.
“Thanks to my father prophet Walter Magaya, family, friends and my teammates. Without you I wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Zhuwao.
Eagles captain Tino Mutombodzi took centre stage with his leg-breaks on the final day yesterday as his team completed a 167-run victory. He finished with five wickets for 60 with his tempting leg-breaks, and took nine for 84 in the match – he has been working on his bowling more this season and enjoyed a good harvest in this match.
Aiding him was the off-spinner Tapiwa Mufudza, who bowled throughout the morning session – his final figures were four for 125, so he took his wickets, but was expensive.
Midlands Rhinos began the final day at 160 for five, facing a target of 449 and with little hope of avoiding heavy defeat; Simba Gupo had 10 and the more aggressive Nyasha Mayavo 41. Mayavo added just a single to his score before he pushed a return catch back to Mufudza and six men were out for 161.
Tendai Chisoro played some good strokes in scoring 27 off 42 balls, but became a little too obsessed with various versions of the sweep against the bowling of Mutombodzi, and in the end the bowler trapped him lbw missing a sweep, with the score 206 for seven; the drinks interval had secured another victim.
Kyle Jarvis scored 18 off 14 balls, but was beaten and bowled by a quicker yorker from Mufudza; 225 for eight. Trevor Gwandu scored two before he pushed too firmly at a ball from Mutombodzi and was caught at short extra cover; 230 for nine wickets and still more than half an hour to go before lunch.
There was one surprise to come, though, as the last man, Mike Chinouya, resisted all efforts to remove him for 39 minutes and scored 26 of a last-wicket partnership of 51 with Gupo and delaying the lunch interval, until the match finally came to a close as he sliced a catch into the covers off Mutombodzi.
Gupo was left not out with 48 off 153 balls, a solid defensive innings, but he never tried to dominate the bowling. This victory took Eagles to 42 points in the Logan Cup table, behind Mountaineers with 48. Both teams have two matches to play, and the other three teams are too far behind to top the table now.
Harare Metropolitan Eagles won by 167 runs
Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 171 and 501 all out in 107.1 overs (Cephas Zhuwao 265, Kudzai Maunze 76, Tino Mutombodzi 39; Tendai Chisoro 6/192, Tendai Maruma 2/75)
Midlands Rhinos – 224 and 281 all out in 76.3 overs (Tendai Maruma 62, Simbarashe Gupo 48*, Nyasha Mayavo 42; Tino Mutombodzi 5/60, Tapiwa Mufudza 4/125) – Sports Reporter/Zim Cricket/AFP.