[Stanbic T20] Eagles Beat Woeful Rocks, Clinch Final Playoff Berth

The final match in the group stage of the Stanbic T20 saw Eagles meet Rocks, with the prize for the winner being the final slot in tomorrow's playoff stage, where they'd meet Midwest Rhinos. Rocks won the toss and opted to field, while Eagles got off to a horrible start when top-order failures left them on 30/3 in the 7th over. That was when Peter Trego and Elton Chigumbura got stuck in, though - the pair put on 60 for the 4th wicket at over 7/over, while after Trego's departure his replacement Ryan ten Doeschate continued the good work adding another 34 with Chigumbura at over 10/over before he headed back to the pavilion himself. Those two knocks helped see Eagles to a respectable 147/7 at the close of innings, and given Rocks' form in the tournament they would've been confident that that was enough.

And so it proved. Rocks also suffered early losses, but while Eagles dug in and recovered from them, the loss of Kaia and Mutumbami for not much return seemed to knock the stuffing out of Rocks, who gave up the fight and seemed to make no effort to chase the target that had been set for them. A steady procession of wickets followed as Eagles stamped their domination on the match - for the first time this tournament - and bowled Rocks out for a woeful 77 runs in the 17th over. Nathan Waller was the pick of Eagles' bowlers, with 3/8 from 3 overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 147/7 (20 overs; Chigumbura 47, Burger 4/31), Rocks 77 (16.2 overs; Maregwede 15, Waller 3/8). Mashonaland Eagles win by 70 runs.

[Stanbic T20] Rhinos Defeat Fighting Eagles

The sun is finally shining and the players have accustomed themselves to this format of the game, the runs are flowing at Harare Sports Club. In another high-scoring match with a thrilling finish, Mid-West Rhinos just staved off a remarkable batting challenge from Mashonaland Eagles to win by 7 runs. The young Richard Muzhange bowled particularly well at the death to save the match for his team, after brilliant innings from Stuart Matsikenyeri and Peter Trego.

Mashonaland Eagles, who gave the captaincy today to the Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, inevitably decided to field. Brendan Taylor and Riki Wessels made a sound start, moving the score along and taking few chances, bringing the 50 up in the eighth over, although Taylor was missed off a difficult chance on the square-leg boundary. They speeded up, the 100 being reached in the 12th over, both batsmen reaching fifties soon afterwards. Wessels was first to go, at 111, pulling a catch to midwicket for 51 off 44 balls. At the 15-over mark the score was 114 for one, and at this point Taylor skied a catch, out for 54 off 42 balls.

Well as they batted, such a score with only two wickets down and five overs to go was perhaps a little disappointing. Fortunately for Mid-West Rhinos, Gary Ballance was now in and he carried on exactly where he had left off the previous afternoon. With a series of brilliant strokes, especially adept at swinging balls over the midwicket boundary, he tore the bowling apart, being mainly responsible for another 70 runs coming off the last five overs. His share was 53 not out, scored off 25 balls, with two fours and five sixes, a display of hitting even more awesome than that which won the previous match.

Mid-West Rhinos therefore finished with the almost invincible score of 184 for three. Mashonaland Eagles were handicapped at the bowling crease by the loss of Raymond Price, who had to leave the field in the middle of his second over after hurting his hand attempting a difficult return chance. Both wickets fell to Rory Hamilton-Brown (two for 32).

Mashonaland Eagles kept their heads as they replied, the opening pair putting on 27 by sensible cricket in four overs before Hamilton-Brown (19) skied a catch. His partner Matsikenyeri, after a very shaky start against the pace of Shaun Tait, settled in and played some good strokes, aided now by Trego, and after ten overs they had taken the score to 75 for one – exactly 11 an over needed off the remaining ten.

Matsikenyeri reached his fifty off 41 balls, and the 100 came up in the 14th over. Then the batsmen stepped up a gear, and at 15 overs they were pulling back into the game, with 126 on the board; Mid-West Rhinos (pre-Ballance) at this stage had only 114. Tate came back and slowed down the scoring rate until he was taken off after bowling two accidental beamers in an over. Then Matsikenyeri was caught at the wicket trying to scoop a ball from Mike Chinouya, for 73 off 55 balls (four sixes, four fours). Mashonaland Eagles now needed 34 off the final three overs.

Tension mounted as Richard Muzhange bowled a superb over for three runs; 31 now needed off the last two. Chinouya conceded 11, which left 20 runs to be had from the young Muzhange’s final over of the match. Trego hit 2, 2, 6 and 1, when Ryan ten Doeschate was run out attempting a second. Nine were needed from two balls, with Trego facing. He could only manage a single off the first; Elton Chigumbura could not hit the final delivery, and the bowler had kept his head to win the match for his team at the death. The gallant Trego was unbeaten with 71 off 49 balls.

Mid-West Rhinos are deservedly on a high at present after two superb victories under pressure – but they still have some members of their side failing to contribute significantly, and this makes them vulnerable when their top players inevitably have a bad day. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 184/2 (20 overs; Taylor 54, Hamilton-Brown 2/32), Eagles 177/3 (20 overs; Matsikenyeri 71, Mugava 1/33). Midwest Rhinos win by 6 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Maintain Winning Momentum

An impressive all-round performance by Mountaineers gained them a straightforward victory over the struggling Southern Rocks team. The batting was a good team performance, while Shingi Masakadza led the bowling with three cheap wickets. On today’s showing, Mountaineers look to be heading for the final of this tournament.

On another hot sunny day Southern Rocks won the toss and, as always, put Mountaineers in to bat. Phil Mustard gave Mountaineers his usual cracking start, with two powerful boundaries immediately, but Hamilton Masakadza pulled a catch straight to mid-on for 8. Then came a crucial partnership between Mustard (40 off 31 balls) and Kevin Kasuza (27), who added 60 for the second wicket in just over six overs. When Mustard was caught at long-on at the end of the tenth over, the score was a promising 82 for two.

This gave the later batsmen the licence to hit out, and although there were no major partnerships after that, the score was doubled in the last ten overs. The best stand was that of 36 between Kudzai Sauramba, making his T20 debut, and Shingi Masakadza (13 off 10 balls). Sauramba is rather small in stature but he certainly packs a punch, to the extent of scoring 36 not out off 15 balls, including three sixes. He took the total to 166 for six, a daunting task for Southern Rocks. Despite this the bowling was generally steady, with Roy Kaia removing Mustard, Kasuza and Chris Harris for 31 with his gentle slow-medium bowling.

Southern Rocks never looked like challenging, especially after they lost both openers to Shingi Masakadza for 16, using five overs in the process. Jon Kent and Shane Burger fought back with a good partnership, and when Kent was unluckily run out after ten overs, the score was 49 for three. But this required 117 from the last ten overs, a near-impossible task. Burger and Tendai Chisoro added 51 in six overs before Chisoro fell to a brilliant boundary catch by Shingi Masakadza, the total then being 100 in the 16th over.

Burger’s 50 soon followed, off only 34 balls, but even this was not enough to match the merciless required run rate. He eventually fell in the 19th over, caught at backward point for 62 off 43 balls. Shingi Masakadza came back for the final over to take another wicket and finish with the excellent figures of three for 14 off his four overs. Dirk Nannes, with one for 17 off four, also had unusual figures for this form of the game. Southern Rocks could only manage 123 for six, and were far enough behind to earn Mountaineers a bonus point. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 166/6 (20 overs; Mustard 40, Kaia 3/31), Rocks 123/6 (20 overs; Burger 62, S Masakadza 3/14). Mountaineers win by 43 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Blistering Rhinos Break Tuskers Winning Streak

At the halfway stage of this match, after a blistering century from Chris Gayle, it appeared that Matabeleland Tuskers’ ultra-strong overseas contingent had unbalanced the tournament. They seemed on the verge of a fourth large victory out of four.

The tables were turned, however, as magnificent innings from Brendan Taylor (75 not out off 54 balls) and Gary Ballance (67 off 34 balls) put on 105 in nine overs and brought about an amazing victory for Mid-West Rhinos with three balls to spare.

Mid-West Rhinos won the toss and decided to field on a warm, sunny day, the best weather of the tournament so far. It did them no good, however, as although bowling reasonably well they were able to take only one wicket – and the fact that all the batting was done by overseas players serves to emphasize the inordinate effect their batch of overseas players is having on the balance of the tournament. In the second over Tom Smith was brilliantly run out by Edward Rainsford, and this was the only wicket Mid-West Rhinos managed to secure.

The rest of the innings was the Chris Gayle show, with Paul Horton playing a good supporting role. Gayle tore the attack apart at times, although he had periods of devastating hitting and quieter periods where he worked the ball around the field more often. His first great assault was against Rainsford, whom he hit for two sixes in an over. Later Graeme Cremer came under the hammer, three sixes off four balls, the first landing in the television balcony and the third clearing it completely.

Gayle sent up a huge skier over extra cover in the penultimate over, but the fielder seemed to lose sight of the ball and didn’t even attempt a catch. Then, in the final over, he reached his century with a towering six off Richard Muzhange’s fifth ball, and added another six off the final delivery to finish with 109 off 59 balls. He hit seven fours and eight sixes, and the bowlers were helpless against him; the only one to escape severe punishment was the off-spinner Simon Mugava, whose four overs cost 20 runs. Horton finished with 47 not out, and the total 171 for one.

Mid-West Rhinos had an almost impossible target. The experiment of opening with Riki Wessels failed, as he swatted a catch to short extra cover in the third over. Brendan Taylor, knowing his responsibilities, spent 14 balls over his first six runs before swinging a ball from Keegan Meth over midwicket for a big six. Now he went into top gear and found a good partner in Lou Vincent (25). When Vincent went at the end of the tenth over, though, at 62 for two, 110 were still needed off the remaining ten.

Two sixes off three balls from Keith Dabengwa brought up Taylor ’s fifty, off 38 balls. Gary Ballance proved an even better partner, reaching new heights in T20 cricket with a remarkable innings of skill and improvisation. He scored even faster than Taylor , reaching fifty off 28 balls. Such blistering batting left 19 to be scored off the final two overs. With a six from Ballance, before he was caught at mid-on off the final delivery, the 19th over went for 14, needing Taylor to make sure five came off the last over, to be bowled by Gayle. He duly hit the first for four to tie the scores, and pulled the third for another boundary to bring off a remarkable victory. Taylor hit five fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 75, while Ballance’s startling 67 had six fours and four sixes.

The message is clear – Matabeleland Tuskers can be beaten after all. This match has brought the tournament to life. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 171/1 (20 overs; Gayle 109*, Horton 47*), Rhinos 175/3 (19.3 overs; Taylor 75*, Ncube 1/17). Midwest Rhinos win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Thump Eagles

A good battle between Mashonaland Eagles and Mountaineers was rather spoiled by the weather, which worked against Mountaineers after they had made a fine start batting first, and even more so when Mashonaland Eagles chased a reasonable target of 140, which rapidly became a difficult one under the conditions.

Mashonaland Eagles followed the invariable practice of fielding when they won the toss, but Mountaineers this time were well prepared for it and came out in fine spirit. Tino Mawoyo led the charge, swatting the first legitimate delivery of the match, from Elton Chigumbura, over cover for six. He was dropped at slip off Kyle Jarvis in the next over, but ran to 16 off 10 balls before departing. With Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza in, the scoring rate was more than ten an over, and the score was 58 for two in the sixth over when Mustard was brilliantly run out by Jarvis for 22 off 12 balls.

The 100 went up in the 13th over, but shortly afterwards Masakadza was caught at long-off and Mountaineers’ problems began. The light worsened seriously, batting became more difficult and rain caused a break of 23 minutes at 120 for five after 16 overs. Resuming afterwards lost their innings more momentum, and although they tried to hit out in the four overs remaining, they only managed a total of 139 for seven. Nathan Waller, with three for 20, was the most successful bowler.

If batting was difficult for Mountaineers, though, it was by no means easy for Mashonaland Eagles, although the light had improved a little. Dirk Nannes struck two devastating blows with his first two deliveries, trapping Rory Hamilton-Brown lbw and then bowling Peter Trego. Stuart Matsikenyeri, who opened with Hamilton-Brown, hit briefly and boldly for 19, and there followed a useful stand of 32 between Ryan ten Doeschate (18) and Regis Chakabva. When ten Doeschate skied a catch, superbly taken by Shingi Masakadza, the score was 58 for four in the ninth over and Mashonaland Eagles were falling slightly behind. But there were still powerful guns to come in Chigumbura, Forster Mutizwa and Andrew Hall.

Another useful partnership, with Chigumbura, was cut short when Chakabva was lbw for 23, attempting a reverse sweep. The required run rate was now almost 10, and quickly worsened as the batsmen struggled in what was rapidly becoming semi-darkness. At 15 overs 59 were needed in five – but all was not lost as long as Chigumbura and Hall stayed together. But then the rain began again, and the match was over, awarded in favour of the Mountaineers. On the whole this was a fair result. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 139/7 (20/20 overs; H Masakadza 36, Waller 3/20), Eagles 82/6 (15.1/15.1 overs; Chakabva 23, Nannes 2/9). Mountaineers win by 22 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Make in Three in a Row

Matabeleland Tuskers continued their winning streak with a third successive victory, this time at the expense of the hapless Southern Rocks team. After restricting their opponents to 114 off their 20 overs, Matabeleland Tuskers were only nine runs short of victory with nine wickets in hand when rain ended the match and gave them a calculated victory.

The bad luck which has dogged Southern Rocks this season seems to have followed them to Harare. Their first match was rained off when they were in a strong position against Mid-West Rhinos. In this their second match, not having batted yet in the tournament, they lost the toss against Matabeleland Tuskers, who had batted twice, and suffered the disadvantage of being put in to bat.

For four overs they did well, Roy Kaia and Chamu Chibhabha scoring 24 runs together. Then the wheels came off, and stayed off for most of the innings. Both openers and the Kenyan Alex Obanda, who was all at sea against the swing of Keegan Meth, fell in quick succession and the score became 26 for three. After eight overs there were only 29 runs on the board, an almost certain recipe for disaster. The Namibian Shane Burger then hit out briefly, scoring 21 off 20 balls, including a six through the open window of the pressbox.

After Burger was out there was another slump, and when the South African Jon Kent was dismissed at the start of the 18th over the score was 89 for seven. Then the tailenders Hilary Matanga (25 not out) and Tafadzwa Kamungozi (out for 13 off the final delivery of the innings) saved some face for their team with a quick 25 together, so that Southern Rocks reached 114 for eight. There were two wickets each for Meth, Glenn Querl and Tom Smith, all of them cheaply.

When they bowled, Southern Rocks could not have wished for a better start. Chris Gayle, first ball, edged a ball from Brian Vitori that moved away from him and the keeper completed the job, sending him on his way immediately. But it was a false dawn. Well as Vitori bowled, the batsmen Tom Smith and Paul Horton were under no pressure and they were content merely to see him off and then work away at the other bowlers with plenty of time to reach their target. Just after Smith reached his 50, however, a shower of rain arrived and the players had to leave the field with the score at 106 for one. They were unable to return and Matabeleland Tuskers were awarded victory by the deceptive margin of 20 runs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 114/80 (20/20 overs; Matanga 25*, Smith 2/12), Tuskers 106/1 (16.1/16.1 overs; Smith 63*, Vitori 1/10). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 20 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Rhinos v Rocks Rained Off

Another poor batting performance by Mid-West Rhinos batting first left them with a small total to defend against Southern Rocks, but they were saved by the rain, which came on between innings and put an end to the match. The Masvingo team were very disappointed to be denied a likely victory by the weather after a good performance in the field.

Southern Rocks won the toss and followed the virtually obligatory custom of putting the opposition in to bat. Brendan Taylor and Gary Ballance made a fair start but, just as Taylor (11) was getting going he turned a ball from Brian Vitori, back at last after injury, to midwicket and was out when the score was 20. Riki Wessels looked the biggest danger to Southern Rocks as from the start he laid about him with a will, while Ballance played very much second fiddle. Ballance had scored 8 out of 48, having had little of the strike, when he felt obliged to get moving, but was caught by the keeper off a skier.

The most crucial moment came when Wessels, with 34 off 29 balls, threw his wicket away, trying an unnecessary reverse sweep and sending an easy catch; he walked off furious with himself. After this the Mid-West Rhinos innings went into steady decline, although Malcolm Waller (18) and Graeme Cremer (23) began well but failed to finish. The final total was only 131 for seven, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi (two for 17) and Shane Burger (two for 14) returning good figures off their four overs each.

Minutes after the players left the field, the rain started, and soon was so heavy as to make it obvious further play was impossible. Southern Rocks had good reason to feel aggrieved; a victory for them was not assured, but the odds were perhaps better than two to one in their favour. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 131/7 (20 overs; Wessels 34, Burger 2/15), Rocks did not bat. No result - rain.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Make it Two in a Row

The first match of the second day held particular interest as it was contested by the two winning teams of the first day, both teams well capable of winning the tournament. Matabeleland Tuskers won the day, with the former West Indian captain Chris Gayle turning in a star performance to make 61 with the bat and then take four wickets for just 22 runs with the ball. Paul Horton, Craig Ervine, Keegan Meth and Keith Dabengwa also had good mornings as the Bulawayo team triumphed.

Mountaineers won the toss and, as usual, put the opposition in to bat. Matabeleland Tuskers, however, had a cunning plan to counter the tendency of inexperienced local players to collapse when batting first through inability to pace the innings: they sent their experienced overseas players in first. Tom Smith quickly fell, caught behind off the glove off a lifting ball from Dirk Nannes, but then Gayle and Horton shared a fine partnership of 95.

Gayle in particular dominated, although for most of his innings he did not appear to do so, as he just kept the score ticking over regularly through his skill and experience. He had a lucky escape on 18, when he sliced a ball that lobbed gently over point, just out of reach of three fielders running for it. Later he started to open up, hitting Mushangwe for two sixes in an over, including the biggest of the day, straight over the media centre. His 50 came off 33 balls, and when he was finally caught on the midwicket boundary off the deceptive bowling of Chris Harris he had made 61 off 38 balls, including three fours and five sixes. The score was 98 for two after 13 overs.

Horton soon followed for 32, also diddled out by Harris, and Charles Coventry (17) and Ervine (30 not out) took over with some aggressive batting. Ervine for once outshone his partner and hit three sixes, facing only 15 balls. The final total was an impressive 161 for four, although Mountaineers certainly had the batting to challenge this. Harris was the most successful bowler, with two for 21 off his four overs, while Nannes also bowled very well with two for 29.

It promised to be a good finish. Meth quickly struck for Matabeleland Tuskers, having Tino Mawoyo caught at midwicket for 1 off the third ball of the innings, but then came a crucial stand between Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza. They put on 49 in six overs, and Masakadza gave Gayle some of his own treatment, swinging the ball for a huge six over midwicket when the West Indian came on to bowl. But not much else could be done against Gayle. He broke the stand by having Mustard caught at long-on for 15, though there was most credit here to a superb leaping one-handed catch by Meth. Keith Dabengwa took the crucial wicket of Masakadza, stumped for 45 off 34 balls; and the score was 80 for three at the start of the eleventh over, as well balanced as could be.

The 100 came up in the 13th over, but then Gayle struck a double blow that proved to be crucial. He removed Kevin Kasuza for 24 and Shingi Masakadza next ball, leaving Mountaineers at 103 for five and suddenly struggling. 54 runs were needed off the last five overs, and then Ted Eckersley fell right into Gayle’s trap, swinging a shortish ball straight to deep midwicket. Chris Harris (19) fell to a fine return catch by Dabengwa off a powerful drive and, with the situation now next to impossible, the last few batsmen slogged and perished. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 161/4 (20 overs; Gayle 61, Harris 2/21), Mountaineers 142/9 (20 overs; H Masakadza 45, Gayle 4/22). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 18 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Trample Eagles

The second match of Day One saw Chris Gayle's arrival on the scene - possibly the most-anticipated appearance of the tournament, but when Tuskers opted to field after winning the toss, Tuskers fans had to wait a little longer to see him in action. Eagles had a disappointing innings, reaching 120/8 for their allotted overs as a stead stream of wickets throughout the innings kept their scoring in check, with Njabulo Ncube (3/27) and Keegan Meth (2/15) both having good spells. Elton Chigumbura top-scored for Eagles with 26, with Andrew Hall (22) and Forster Mutizwa (21) both also chipping in, but as in the first game there were more single-digit scores on the card that double-digit ones.

No such problems for Tuskers, who raced to the target for the loss of 3 wickets, and quickly enough - within 16 overs - to secure a bonus point that puts them on top of the tournament table. There were no fireworks from Chris Gayle on this occasion - 1 wicket and just 10 runs - but Charles Coventry, batting 5th, put on a hell of a show, smashing an unbeaten 44 from just 26 balls, including 2 fours and 4 sixes, to help see his side home. For Eagles, Chigumbura, Trego and Price claimed a wicket apiece in the losing cause. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 120/8 (20 overs; Chigumbura 26, Ncube 3/27), Tuskers 123/3 (16 overs; Coventry 44*, Chigumbura 1/15). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 7 wickets.

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Off to a Winning Start

Rhinos looked to have the stronger batting lineup on paper but, put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, they didn't live up to their potential. In-form Gary Ballance lasted just 4 balls before departing for a single run, and while Brendan Taylor (37) and Riki Wessels (31) put on a good 53-run partnership for the 2nd over, that was pretty much it as far as Rhinos were concerned - no other batsmen reached double-figures, as Rhinos limped their way to 115/9. Natsai Mushangwe (3/19), Prosper Utseya (2/20) and Shingi Masakadza (2/27) did most of the damage. The target, 116 at 5.8/over, didn't exactly look hard to get.

And so it proved. While Mountaineers suffered a few setbacks along the way, the combined efforts of Hamilton Masakadza (34) and Chris Harris (39*) guided their side home with 7 balls to spare. Rhinos weren't able to contain the run rate enough to really put pressure on Mountaineers, and it told in the end. After a horrible start to the domestic season, Mountaineers seem to have found their form at just the right time, and are off to a winning start. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 115/9 (20 overs; Taylor 37, Mushangwe 3/19), Mountaineers 116/4 (18.5 overs; Harris 39*, Cremer 1/12). Mountaineers win by 6 wickets.

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