By Sports Reporter
Despite losing two of their stalwarts, Mountaineers will be looking to lift the Logan Cup for an historic fourth time in a row as the first-class competition gets Zimbabwe’s 2019/20 domestic season underway on Thursday this week.
The defending champions will face Tuskers in the season-opener scheduled for 12-15 December at Old Hararians Sports Club in the capital, while at the same time Eagles will be taking on Rhinos at Harare Sports Club.
A fifth side, Rangers, from the Alistair Campbell High Performance Programme, has been added to the premier provincial competitions, but they will only make their Logan Cup bow next week.
Having completely dominated the four-day competition for the past three seasons, Mountaineers will once again start as favourites for the coveted silverware.
“We have done well over the last three seasons and we will definitely be the team to beat,” Mountaineers coach Shepherd Makunura said.
“We would obviously love to make it four out of four, but we are wary of competition from the other sides.”
But having lost veteran batsmen Hamilton Masakadza and Forster Mutizwa, who both recently retired, will the defending champions cope without the duo?
“It’s never easy to replace such big players like Hamilton and Forster who have played a pivotal role for us over the years, but it's time for the other players raise their hands and stand up and be counted,” Makunura said.
“I believe we can still retain the trophy with efforts from all the other players. We still have the likes of Timycen Maruma, Roy Kaia, Kevin Kasuza, Tendai Chatara and Donald Tiripano, just to name a few.”
Mountaineers lost their first Logan Cup match last year – which was to be their only defeat in the competition – but this time round Makunura is looking to start off with a bang.
“It’s always important to get off to a winning start and that way you do not put pressure on yourselves too early on in the season. So we hope to get off to a good start,” he said.
Their opponents this week, Tuskers, did not have a great campaign last season, failing to win any of their Logan Cup matches, but they will be looking to bounce back and challenge for the title.
“We started off slowly in our Logan Cup campaign last season but by the end we were moving in the right direction, which was positive. Another round of matches would have seen us recording some wins,” Tuskers coach Douglas Hondo said.
“We will hopefully get out of the blocks quicker this season. It’s is a new season and a new beginning, so we will take all the positives from last season and use them as our driving force.
“We have most of our seasoned campaigners available at the start this time round and we have also made a few additions to our roster, so that should boost our drive.”
All matches start at 930am