Mountaineers face Matabeleland Tuskers

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A potentially explosive encounter is on the cards when Mountaineers host Logan Cup champions Matabeleland Tuskers in a Coca-Cola-50 one-day cricket encounter at Mutare Sports Club as the new domestic cricket season begins in earnest on Saturday.

Mountaineers, who had spent the entire season undefeated, unexpectedly lost in the Logan Cup final by five wickets against a depleted Tuskers side that was missing five key players.

Former national team seamer Gary Brent, the Mountaineers coach, said he was confident that his team would make amends for their disappointment last season.

“We have been preparing very hard for the new season for a few weeks now and the guys are looking forward to this match.

“What happened last season is enough motivation for the players and it will be nice to win against the team which beat us in Logan Cup final last season.

“l am happy with the team I have at the moment and all my players are in good condition and available for selection except for Hamilton Masakadza who will be rested after playing for the national team recently against Pakistan. However, Prosper Utseya and Tino Mawoyo will feature in this match,” said Brent.

Tuskers, on the other hand, are well capable of upstaging the hosts in their backyard and have been boosted by the arrival of Englishman Paul Horton. Horton, who was Tuskers’ leading run scorer in the Logan Cup, helped Lancashire County Cricket Club to their first county cricket championship since 1934.

Tuskers will also look to new signing Craig Ervine, pinch-hitter Charles Coventry, Njabulo Ncube and their skipper Gavin Ewing for inspiration.

After Saturday’s one-day encounter the two teams will meet in the opening round of the Castle Logan Cup at the same venue starting on Monday.

Meanwhile, Mountaineers have been quietly doing their business on the transfer market for the new season as they have signed Liam Dawson, one of the top players at Hampshire in the English County Championship.

The 21-year-old all-rounder, whose heroic century against Warwickshire in the final match of the County Championship season last week wasn’t enough to prevent Hampshire’s relegation to the second division, is expected to join his new teammates later this month.