The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Mangongo Not a Happy Man

MASHONALAND Eagles' batting frailties continued to ruin their Logan Cup campaign this week when they slumped to their fourth defeat at the hands of Matabeleland Tuskers at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

The under-performing Harare side are still to win a game in the four-day competitions this season and new coach Steve Mangongo was left a dejected man yesterday after the side gave away a first innings lead to concede a shattering 312-run defeat.

Eagles had started the match on a promising note when they dismissed Tuskers for 143 in the first innings, with Kyle Jarvis, who finished with nine match wickets, taking 7-35.

"It's disappointing because when you bowl out a side for 143, it means you are well on top of the game but our batters gave it away just like that.

"Our first five batsmen failed to bat the opening 15 overs and technically that means we are struggling at the top. You cannot expect to win Test matches when your top order cannot last a session," said Mangongo.

Eagles picked their first point of the season when they took a first innings lead with 245 runs on the board.

But the hosts responded in a big way when they declared their innings at 518/8, thanks to big centuries from overseas players Moeen Ali (103) and Sean Ervine (153, not out).

But the Eagles batsmen, as they have often done since the beginning of the season, found the pressure unbearable and capitulated at 104 runs.

Tuskers' all-rounder Keegan Meth claimed five-wicket hauls in both innings to finish the game with 10 match wickets.

Mangongo said he was expecting something better from his experienced players like Chamu Chibhabha, Sikander Raza, Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura and Forster Mutizwa.

"It's disappointing that these guys have been in the game for some time and they should be leading from the front but they are not doing that," said Mangongo.

"Most of them are averaging less than 15 and that is not good enough at this level. But we have one month to make amends, to make sure we start playing sensible cricket and winning again.

"There are a number of young players like Simba Gupo and Peter Moor who have been doing well in the Vigne Cup.

"The only way to improve our game is to give the youngsters a chance.

"These guys have been playing lots of cricket and if you look at the table they are the only team that has played four games, all in succession.

"And I think they are finding it difficult to play on the green tracks. They are used to flat surfaces but the pitches are being deliberately prepared like that so that when we play international sides we will not cry.

"As Eagles we would want to continue playing on such tracks so that these players will get used to it and when they are called to national duty they will not struggle."

Tuskers are firmly on top of the table with three wins from as many games.

They have 20 points while Mountaineers beat Mid West Rhinos by eight wickets to close the gap between the teams on the log table.

They are tied on 14 points ahead of their final matches in the first round scheduled for next week.

Rhinos will host Tuskers at Kwekwe Sports Club while Mountaineers travel to Masvingo Sports Club for a date against Southern Rocks on Tuesday.

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