VISITING Mountaineers will be out to extend excellent record in domestic Twenty20 cricket and claim back-to-back Twenty20 cricket competitions when they face hosts Mashonaland Eagles in the Castle Lager Twenty20 final at Harare Sports Club tomorrow.
REPORT DANIEL NHAKANISO
While on paper Eagles will be favourites to clinch the coveted title based on their dominance during the round robin stage this season, history also firmly favours Mountaineers’ cause.
The record books show that the Manicalandfranchise are the most successful local side in shortest format of the game.
The Gary Brent coached side, are the reigning champions of the popular Stanbic Twenty20 Series after winning their second title last year to become the most successful local side in the three-year history of the competition.
Ironically Mountaineers’ victory in the final of the last edition of the Stanbic Twenty20 series in December 2011 also came against their opponents tomorrow, which sets up a potentially intriguing contest.
Tomorrow’s final will also see offspinner Prosper Utseya crossing swords with his former paymasters Mountaineers after changing bases at the start of the season.
Allrounder Greg Lamb who also moved in the opposite direction from Eagles to Mountaineers would also want to see what his former employers missed out on by letting him go.
In the absence of their top batsman Hamilton Masakadza at the top of the order, Mountaineers will look to their bowling department comprising of the seam trio of Shingi Masakadza, Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara.
Lamb, whose off spinners can be handy in limited overs cricket is also expected to make a contribution with the bowl.
Masakadza has been impressive in the shortest format, taking 19 wickets from seven matches while Chatara and Tiripano have also been equally good during the round robin stages.
While Mountaineers’ bowling department may look like their strongest area, their batting is also equally well balanced despite missing Masakadza.
Opener Tino Mawoyo, who has in the past been labeled a Test specialist has also contributed a fair amount of runs with the bat which is why he was the fourth highest run getter during the round robin phase.
Mawoyo is expected to open the batting with Yorkshire’s Dan Hodgson, one of the overseas based players at Mountaineers. Promising batsman Kevin Kasuza is expected to come in at number three ahead of Mark Pettini, Timycen Maruma, Lamb and Keith Sauramba.
Eagles on the other hand will look to their batting department lead by ChamuChibhabha, SikandarRaza, Cephas Zhuwao and skipper Stuart Matsikenyeri. The spin trio of Tino Mutombodzi, Prosper Utseya and Ray Price t have also been in top form for Eagles with the ball combining well with the seamers Nathan Waller, Innocent Chinyoka and Kyle Jarvis who is expected to make his return to the side.