Let's hope it's a good one

HARARE - Matches between the Mashonaland Eagles and the Mountaineers always seem to be close and exciting affairs.

You need only think back and remember the nail biting final between the two teams back in the final of the Stanbic Twenty20 competition in 2011.

The only disappointment of this final is that both teams will be missing key players which always puts a bit of a dampener on proceedings.

Both Elton Chigumbura from the Eagles and Zimbabwe's T20 specialist, Hamilton Masakadza from the Mountaineers are currently doing duty in the on-going Bangladesh Premier League T20 competition.

Many fans around the country would have been rubbing their hands in anticipation, hoping to see Chigumbura bowling to Masakadza.

Sadly, that will have to be put on hold for another occasion, but, the final still promises to be a good and hopefully closely contested encounter.

The Eagles will have the slight advantage of playing on their home turf, but, that is the only real advantage they will have...

The home side will be hoping for the explosive Sikandar Raza Butt to get them off to a flying start. Butt is a formidable player in T20 cricket, and his natural instincts to back himself can often rub off on the rest of his teammates.

Not only is he positive with the bat, but, his bubbly and friendly personality is infectious. He is a live wire in the field, an outstanding fielder, and an allround pleasure to have in a team.

The Eagles will also be relying on the likes of the very experienced Raymond Price, who will undoubtedly be used to bowl in the power play overs, Chamu Chibhabha who on more than one occasion has shown a propensity to express himself in this shortened format of the game, and captain Stuart Matsikinyere who has always been there and there about for a number of seasons.

Their bowling attack may also prove to be a handful. Raymond Price, who has already been mentioned will play a huge and important part in martialing his troops and encouraging a promising attack.

Nathan Waller will be vital with the new ball and will be looking to use his height to his advantage, as he will almost certainly get a bit of bounce which can be very augured for the top order to deal with.

Prosper Utseya will be smiling from ear to ear as he will be fronting up against his old franchise, and it will be interesting to see what plans the Mutare based team will have to combat Utseya's accuracy and tight lines.

The Mountaineers will realise that they will be up against a good team who play with a lot of flair and who are not afraid to take it to the opposition, regardless of the opponents or situation they may find themselves in.

But coach Gary Brentt has instilled a great deal of self-belief in a team that has a very good balance of youth and experience.

Despite the absence of Hamilton Masakadza at the top of the order, the mountaineers still have some fire power in the likes of their captain Tino Mawoyo, the exciting and talented Kevin Kasuza, Kudzai Sauramba, and allrounders Timycen Maruma and the very hard hitting Shingirai Masakadza who will also be an important factor with the new ball.

So, all is set for what promises to be an exciting final between two competitive teams with good players, coached by two passionate coaches in Steven Mangongo, who successfully coached the Mountaineers for a number of seasons, and the quietly spoken Gary Brentt who has done a fantastic job to get his beloved Mountaineers to the final.

The sad bit about this finger licking, lip smacking final is that despite the fact that entry will be free of charge, crowd attendances will more than likely be very disappointing, as people will be focusing their attention on the Afcon final, as well as the English Premier League.

Never the less, those true, genuine and die hard cricket lovers who will venture into the stands to support their team will be in for an entertaining 40 overs of cricket. - Dean du Plessis

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