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THE 2010/2011 domestic cricket season ends on April 3 next month and Mountaineers recent form in both the MetBankPro40 Championship and the Castle Logan Cup shows that the Mutare-based franchise is itching for a double as their memories of being bowed out of the Stanbic Bank 20Twenty Series earlier this season are still fresh in their minds.

The MetBank Pro40 Championship ends on March 27 2011 with the first semi-final to be played on March 25 and the second semi-final the following day at Harare Sports Club.

The Mountain Goats qualified in the semi finals of the MetBank Pro40 Championship after finishing on top of the log standings with 24 points from 8 matches and they will meet MidWest Rhinos who finished fourth with 14 points from 8 matches.

In the Castle Logan Cup, Mountaineers finished on top of the log with 48 points after winning 7 matches and drawing 5 and they will meet Matabeleland Tuskers who finished second with 32 points from 12 matches.

After their disappointing show at the Stanbic Bank 20Twenty Series, many cricket pundits had already concluded that they will struggle throughout the season but the Mutare boys managed to regain their form, with their former coach Allan Donald assembling a strong and talented team that proved to be too strong for all the other franchises.

After the departure of Allan Donald, Gary Brent came in and he maintained the Mountaineers winning ways as the team continued to win home and away matches in both the domestic competitions.

When other teams were feeling the pinch of losing their senior players to the national team for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup currently underway, Mountaineers performance did not deteriorate though they lost their key members Prosper Utseya, Shingie Masakadza and Tino Mawoyo.

In the Castle Logan Cup, Mountaineers captain Hamilton Masakadza was the most consistent batsmen as he has 719 runs from 9 matches 54 shy of the leading runs scorer, Matabeleland Tuskers’ Paul Horton who has 773 runs.

In the MetBank Pro40 Championship, Jonathan Beukes, Timycen Maruma and Tino Mawoyo top the run scoring charts as they lie first, second and third respectively while Natsai Mushangwe and Tendai Chatara top the wicket-taking charts with 12 and 8 wickets respectively.

Masakadza was dropped from the ICC World Cup squad due to poor form but he is currently on top of his game and all eyes would be on him when Rhinos meet the Mountaineers in the first semi-final on March 25.

Mawoyo, who was replaced by Terry Duffin at the World Cup after an abdominal stretch would be expected to create problems for the Rhinos bowlers while fireworks are also expected from Beukes and Maruma.

Chatara, Mushangwe and the young Donald Tiripano are expected to lead the bowling attack in the absence of Tinashe Panyangara, Shingie and Utseya.

Rhinos have a big mountain to climb as they would be without their experienced world cup-bound batsmen, Captain Vusi Sibanda and Brandon Taylor and also bowlers, Graeme Cremer and the injured Ed Rainsford.

As a result Gary Ballance, Malcolm Waller and Friday Kasteni are expected to lead the batting attack while Taurai Muzarabani, Justin Lewis and Ian Nicolson will be expected to stir Rhinos to victory with the bowling.

All the matches start at ten in the morning at Harare Sports Club.

By Terrance Ndawana


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