New Zealand easily won the first Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe, racing to a 10-wicket victory with 6.4 overs in hand at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe fell short of their visitors in all three departments, but the most visible was the catching. Although it did not make the difference between victory and defeat, the fielders dropped both New Zealand openers before they had reached 30, and should have avoided the humiliation of a margin of defeat as great as ten wickets.
Zimbabwe were without Tatenda Taibu, still not fully recovered from the injury he sustained during the Pakistan tour, and Vusi Sibanda, whose mother had passed away in the morning. New Zealand won the toss and put them in to bat, with the weather beautiful and the pitch slightly green and rather slow; the crowd was to grow to perhaps two or three thousand. Hamilton Masakadza drove a ball from the debutant Doug Bracewell for six over long-off in the second over, but this flattered only to deceive; in the next over he tried to do the same thing to Kyle Mills, but got a leading edge and was caught off a skier to mid-off for 9.
The rest of the innings was Brendan Taylor, accompanied by a series of batsmen who made starts but were unable to convert them to anything substantial; the next best innings was 16 by Forster Mutizwa. After ten overs the score was 57 for three; the 100 only came up in the 17th over. Taylor reached his fifty in the final over, off 46 balls; this is hardly a match-winning scoring rate in Twenty20 cricket, but he was in a difficult situation and had to hold the innings together in the absence of a durable partner at the other end. Mills and the off-spinner Nathan McCullum took two wickets each; overall the New Zealanders bowled well, with skilful variations, and gave nothing away in the field. Zimbabwe ’s 121 for eight was scarcely a defendable total.
Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill made light work of the target, helped by a few dropped catches. They played the first over or so fairly quietly before going on the attack with a vengeance. McCullum hit a big six over long-off off Kyle Jarvis in the third over, but when he had 24 he skied a catch to midwicket, where it was put down by Taylor . Guptill, for his part, was dropped at long-on by Waller when he had 22, so Zimbabwe should have had both the openers out. McCullum ran to his 50 off 36 balls, and continued the assault. They romped home with almost seven overs to spare, with only Raymond Price and Prosper Utseya (the latter had only two overs) of the bowlers escaping brutal treatment. Zimbabwe ’s ground fielding was generally good, but the seam bowling was not at par with the work rate on the field and variations were often picked up easily by the batsmen.
"We came here to win, and the way we started with the ball was pleasing, but we know Zimbabwe will come hard at us. When you have been out of cricket for so long, the way we backed up the bowlers in the field was excellent. Brendon and Martin were outstanding with the bat," said the Black Caps' skipper, Ross Taylor. The Black caps had last played international cricket five months ago at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and the victory is the first for the Taylor on his maiden tour as team captain. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 123/8 (20 overs; Taylor 50*, Mills 2/15), New Zealand 127/0 (13.3 overs; McCullum 81*, Guptill 40*). New Zealand win by 10 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
A match which, to all appearances, was virtually doomed to be one-sided from the start, went down to the wire thanks to a magnificent century from Tatenda Taibu, returning to play for his home franchise.
Against the odds, he almost took Southern Rocks to an unexpected victory, but with too little support from the middle order he fell at a crucial stage. Then, when the match appeared as good as over, a spirited innings by Tendai Chisoro and some guts from the last pair led to a remarkable tie.
Rocks were without all three of their frontline seamers. Their bowling was to be opened by Robertson Chinyengetere, a useful but part-time seamer, and Bruce Tembo from the second team. Their ordeal was made worse by losing the toss, Rhinos deciding to bat on a warm sunny morning on a flat batting pitch.
Had Rocks held all their catches, they may well have been able to contain the Rhinos innings within reasonable bounds, even with their threadbare attack; as it was, with several chances going down and a few sloppy pieces of work in the field, they had no chance. The visitors may have been a little overconfident as some of their batsmen did not climb in as they should have done. Steve Marillier fell early, making 20 off 22 balls before clipping a ball straight back to the bowler, Tendai Chisoro. Then Vusi Sibanda, not in his best form, skied a catch to mid-off, which was dropped, although the sun was probably in the fielder’s eyes. Gary Ballance, after playing himself in, went in for some big hitting, and survived a chance on the midwicket boundary. He was eventually run out for 46 thanks to some superb work from Taibu. Sibanda made 47, rarely looking at his best apart from a superb straight six.
The innings really took off when Brendan Taylor (55) and Malcolm Waller were together and added 79 in ten overs. Simon Mugava made a quick 24, but the best innings was undoubtedly that of Waller, who chose his shots well in making an unbeaten 86 off 87 balls, with ten fours and a six. The 300 came up in the final over, the grand total being 305 for eight wickets. Roy Kaia removed Riki Wessels and Remembrance Nyathi cheaply, briefly stemming the flood, but none of the other bowlers had much success.
Roy Kaia began Rocks’ seemingly hopeless run chase with a bang, going for his shots and playing them very well. The 50 went up in the eighth over, most of them to Kaia, but soon afterwards he was out, caught at the wicket off Mike Chinouya, for 31 off 33 balls. Immediately the run rate dropped, and soon Ian Nicolson produced a fast and lethal yorker to remove Chamu Chibhabha for 20.
Then came the partnership between Chinyengetere and Taibu that really got a lively crowd of about a hundred excited. Taibu played the leading role, as expected, playing his shots with panache and running like a hare between wickets. He hit two straight sixes and no bowler could tame him. There were a few fumbles in the field and one possible chance that the fielder apparently picked up late. They kept close to the required run rate of over six an over, and clearly Taibu was the key figure – if he went, there may well be nobody else to take the team home.
The 200 went up in the 35th over, with two wickets in hand. The stand was broken at 166, though, as Nicolson returned to produce another fine yorker that bowled Chinyengetere for 58. At 229 for three, 77 were still needed in 12 overs. Shortly afterwards, in partnership with Richie Mutumbami, Taibu reached his century off 92 balls. The scoring rate slowed, though, as wickets fell at the other end, and when almost nine an over were needed, Taibu hit out in desperation, only to loft a catch to deep midwicket for 106 in the 45th over. He faced 102 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes. It looked like game over for the Rocks.
However, Tendai Chisoro began to find the middle of his bat and kept the excitement going to the last over, though, when Southern Rocks still had 11 runs needed. Edward Rainsford bowled well and Chisoro, after missing the first two deliveries, skied the third for a catch. The last pair were hardly expected to do the job, but an edged boundary helped. Five were needed off the final ball – only for Rainsford to bowl a yorker that shot through the gap between bat and pad, evaded the wicket-keeper and went through for four byes to bring about a remarkable tie.
Nicolson’s two wicket-taking yorkers were vital for Mid-West Rhinos, while Simon Mugava did just as vital a job, his three wickets causing the middle-order collapse that cost Southern Rocks the match. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 305/8 (50 overs; Waller 86*, Kaia 2/32), Rocks 305/9 (50 overs; Taibu 106, Mugava 3/47). Match tied.
[Match report via ZC]
After being comprehensively beaten in their Logan Cup meeting, Mountaineers found themselves unable to take their revenge on Mashonaland Eagles in their Pro50 meeting on Saturday. Eagles set a useful 269, with Stuart Matsikenyeri's maiden List A ton leading the way and, he'll be hoping, marking a return to some decent form - although his was the only Eagles innings of note. Shingi Masakadza, Donald Tiripano and Prosper Utseya bagged two apiece for Mountaineers. I reply, though, Mountaineers were truly dismal, apart from a fighting 71 scored by Hamilton Masakadza off 81 balls - but with none of his team-mates passing 20, he ended up being responsible for nearly half his teams runs, as Mountaineers were bowled out for a paltry 152, Kyle Jarvis (4/35) leading the carnage.
That leaves Mountaineers, usually considered one of the domestic game's premier sides, propping up the table in both the Logan Cup and Pro50 tournaments - very much unfamiliar territory for them. Eagles, meanwhile, are riding high at the top of the table, with the maximum 10 points from their two matches. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 269/9 (50 overs; Matsikenyeri 110*, S Masakadza 2/46), Mountaineers 152 (38.3 overs; H Masakadza 71, Jarvis 4/35). Mashonaland Eagles win by 117 runs.
Forster Mutizwa was the star in the Mashonaland Eagles turnaround three-wicket victory against Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club, with an emphatic unbeaten 163 runs on Thursday.
Eagles turned their fortunes around in the last session of day three when Elton Chigumbura (53) and Mutizwa formed a 115-run partnership. Going into the fourth and final day on Thursday, Eagles had an overnight total of 141/3, trailing by 197 runs. Mutizwa was unbeaten on 70 but was unfortunate to lose his partner in the early overs of the final day when Chigumbura was caught behind off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara. Trevor Garwe was sent in to bat ahead of Regis Chakabva. He made 39 runs. Chakabva was the most recognised batsman left and his departure for 10 when the Eagles needed 87 runs to win with four wickets remaining seemed to signal their defeat.
Young Nathan Waller joined Mutizwa and immediately took the fight to the Rocks, hitting three sixes and seven boundaries for a quick-fire 53 runs from just 48 deliveries. Mutizwa’s ton is his third in his first-class career. It came off 297 balls and included 25 boundaries.
There was a fair bit of good bowling in the match, mostly by the fast bowlers. With Mutizwa’s batting, they were the other factor that tossed the match back and forth between the two teams. Panyangara showed he was the most lethal Rocks’ bowler, taking three wickets in both innings for 76 runs – at an economy rate of 2.48 per over. Mark Mbofana matched Panyangara’s wickets, claiming five for 41 runs in the first innings and one for 19 in the second.
The victory earned the Eagles six points on the log and a point for the Rocks for a first-innings lead bonus. Southern Rocks can derive a lot of positives from this match. These include the balance in their bowling attack as well as a reliable and stable top and middle order. And so they stand a good chance for a positive result when they host the MidWest Rhinos next week in Masvingo. Meanwhile, Eagles will be in high spirits as they will be hosted by the Mountaineers at Mutare Sports Club. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 266 (91 overs; Mutumbami 70, Mbofana 5/41) & 219 (74.1 overs; Chibhabha 66, Waller 3/26), Eagles 147 (45.5 overs; Matsikenyeri 44, Panyangara 3/33) & 342/7 (97 overs; Mutizwa 164*, Panyangara 3/43). Mashonaland Eagles win by 3 wickets.
Mountaineers looked like a team devoid of confidence as they slumped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Matabeleland Tuskers with scarcely a fight. Apart from Shingi Masakadza, who fought a lone battle, the team that had such a marvellous Logan Cup record last season were dismissed for 92 runs in their second innings, chasing only 199 to win. The Matabeleland Tuskers seam battery did a fine job, spearheaded by Chris Mpofu, who took four for 40, taking his total for the match to nine. Keegan Meth, back to his economical best, took three for 19 in 14 overs.
Going into the final day, Mountaineers were 40 for four wickets, and their two international batsmen, Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza, were among those dismissed, so their chances of victory on a difficult pitch looked slim. From the start they played like a team without hope, scarcely offering an attacking stroke against the determined pace bowling of Tuskers. Timycen Maruma, the captain, was particularly disappointing, as he is so often a fighter in such circumstances, but on this occasion he had little to offer. After almost an hour at the crease for just 10 runs, he unwisely shouldered arms to a ball from Chris Mpofu that came back and bowled him.
Ten runs came in the first hour and the procession continued. The night-watchman Silent Mujaji did the best he could, until he was stumped for 5 off 69 balls in 94 minutes. But it was the responsibility of his more capable partners to take the initiative, and with the exception of Shingi Masakadza they failed badly. Shingi, always a fighter when the situation is difficult, played a positive and determined innings of 29 off 45 balls, before a ball from Mpofu had him fending a catch to mid-on. Otherwise the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had things all their own way, as the other home batsmen could offer nothing more than timid defence.
It would appear that their unexpected defeats in last year’s three domestic competitions, for which they were favourites, and especially the Logan Cup final to this Matabeleland Tuskers team, has shattered the confidence of the Mountaineers players. Their coach Gary Brent strongly praised their wonderful attitude throughout pre-season practice, but if the vital ingredient of confidence is missing, this will all be in vain. Mountaineers have the skills and dedication to succeed, even to win the Logan Cup, but before that can happen, they need to repair their wounded spirits. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 306 (85.4 overs; Ewing 102, Mushangwe 5/112) & 186 (66.1 overs; Meth 41*, S Masakadza 4/49), Mountaineers 294 (91.1 overs; H Masakadza 75, Mpofu 5/55) & 92 (48.2 overs; S Masakadza 29, Mpofu 4/40). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 106 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Forster Mutizwa drove Mashonaland Eagles to victory in their first match of the new season over the Southern Rocks in a Coca-Cola Cup one-day match played at Masvingo Sports Club on Saturday. Southern Rocks put up an impressive fight but some emphatic batting from the Eagles broke down their fortress on home soil.
The Zimbabwe domestic one-day competition has reverted to the 50-over format; last season the competition was played over 40 overs per side. However, the match in Masvingo had to be reduced to 40 each when rain had stopped play after 2.1 overs, when Rocks had scored five runs without loss. Mash Eagles won the toss and sent the home side in to bat, a decision that could have been prompted by the then overcast conditions – rare but ideal on a typical flat Masvingo wicket.
The young fast bowler, Nathan Waller, toppled the top order, removing Chamunorwa Chibhabha (15) in the 13th over, followed by Roy Kaia (29) in the 15th. Among a list of player movements this season is Prince Masvaure who left the Eagles for the Rocks, and his was the first wicket to fall, bowled by Trevor Garwe. Mark Vermeulen was the top scorer for the Rocks with a trademark proficient 41 runs from 71 deliveries, featuring three boundaries. Southern Rocks were 186 for eight after 40 overs. Visiting captain Stuart Matsikenyeri, on his debut match as the Mash Eagles skipper, tried out seven bowlers, the pick being Waller with two wickets for 18 from eight overs.
Mutizwa was sensational as he shared two 48-run partnerships and was the mainstay of the Eagles’ brisk pursuit. He partnered with Matsikenyeri (28) and then Mark Mbofana (24*). The former Mountaineers right-arm medium-pacer, Tinashe Panyangara, was a worthy signing for the Rocks as he took the fight to the Eagles, claiming three for 28 off his allotted eight overs. Mutizwa however was unstoppable with a well-played unbeaten 73 from 92 balls. Eagles reached their target in 37.5 overs with six wickets in hand.
Many of the bowlers appear not have utilised their off-season time profitably as a total of 60 extras were conceded in the match, making up 16% of the total runs scored, with five penalty runs being awarded to the Eagles for the batsmen persistently running on the pitch in the Southern Rocks innings. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 186/8 (40 overs; Vermeulen 41, Waller 2/18, Mbofana 2/31), Eagles 188/4 (37.5 overs; Mutizwa 73*, Panyangara 3/28). Mashonaland Eagles win by 6 wickets (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]
A fine all-round performance by Matabeleland Tuskers, and in particular their all-rounder Keegan Meth, gave them a convincing victory over Mountaineers on the latter’s home ground in Mutare. The cricket committee’s decision to make Saturdays the match days in the 50-over competition was otherwise an instant success in Mutare, attracting an enthusiastic family crowd and a festival atmosphere.
Meth courageously returned to the Matabeleland Tuskers side only a month after his horrific facial injury against Bangladesh, and he was to play a vital role in this match with bat and ball, as he had on his last visit to this ground, in the Logan Cup final last April. Mountaineers were without Hamilton Masakadza, nursing a strain. Under cloudy skies Mountaineers won the toss and eagerly put Matabeleland Tuskers in to bat, as the pitch had cracks in it and was expected to help the bowlers considerably. There was some movement early on, but overall much less than the home side anticipated. After one ball had been bowled in the Tuskers’ innings play was suspended for almost 20 minutes as the black covering on the sightscreen was found to be inadequate and had to be fixed.
When play did resume, the batsmen struggled for a while against fine bowling from the occasional internationals Tendai Chatara and Shingi Masakadza. When Gavin Ewing was out lbw to Masakadza for 11, the score was 19 for one in the eighth over, after which Paul Horton struggled to 2 off 21 balls when he was dismissed. Terry Duffin made 21, but the middle order came through well. Craig Ervine made a more fluent 47 as the ball lost its shine, before giving his wicket away just short of his 50.
After the 37th over, though, the score was only 132 for five and Matabeleland Tuskers were struggling. From this point Keith Dabengwa and Meth transformed the innings. Dabengwa had begun cautiously, but soon opened up and batted superbly for his unbeaten 82, with six fours and three sixes. Meth joined in the assault, with 43 off 37 balls, and the pair added 108 in 13 overs, doing particularly well against the spinners. Matabeleland Tuskers finished with a score of 240 for five, far better than had looked likely for most of their innings. Masakadza was the best bowler, deserving better than his two for 38 off 11 overs.
Mountaineers never looked like challenging their target. Chris Mpofu and Meth bowled perhaps even better than their Mountaineer counterparts had done, but against feebler opposition. Bernard Mlambo pulled a ball from Mpofu magnificently for four, but he was all at sea against Meth, eventually edging him to second slip to depart for 8. Mountaineers suffered a serious blow when Tino Mawoyo also fell for 8, lbw to Mpofu, and the slide was on. Five wickets were down for 32 in the 13th over and there could be no coming back from here.
The acting captain, Timycen Maruma, fought defiantly for a while, cracking three powerful boundaries, but then he groped at a ball from Meth well outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper, departing for 17. Matabeleland Tuskers bowled Meth out, his 12 overs – the new limit now allowed in the 50-over game – going for 41 runs for four wickets. Shingi Masakadza pulled a short ball from Dabengwa for six to become only the second batsman in the side to reach double figures, and was followed by Donald Tiripano (15), the pair adding 35 together in a face-saving partnership. The final total was 109, Masakadza last man out for 28. Mpofu finished off the innings, finishing with four wickets for 20 runs. Cricketwise, the day was a disaster for Mountaineers; as a public relations exercise for the people of Mutare, it was a festive and well-run occasion. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 240/5 (50 overs; Dabengwa 82*, S Masakadza 2/38), Mountaineers 109 (33.3 overs; S Masakadza 28, Mpofu 4/20, Meth 4/41). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 131 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
The fixture list for next year's World Twenty20 tournament has been released. The draw hasn't been particularly kind to Zimbabwe, who have landed in group C along with South Africa and hosts Sri Lanka. The group fixtures are:
18 September 2012 Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe Hambantota 20 September 2012 South Africa v Zimbabwe Hambantota 22 September 2012 Sri Lanka v South Africa Hambantota
Top two sides from the group will qualify for the Super Eight, played in two groups of four, with the top two sides from those groups then going on to the semi-finals. Full details on the Fixtures page.
Zimbabwe had a wonderful chance of breaking Pakistan’s winning run by gaining a victory in the final match of the tour. Good bowling and some superb fielding saw them unexpectedly restrict Pakistan to 141 runs in their 20 overs, but their batsmen choked at the target, managing only 136, despite a final gallant effort by Tatenda Taibu, who finished unbeaten on 37. Their bogey man was once again Mohammad Hafeez, a man who seems to strike terror into Zimbabwean players' hearts, as shown by his 51 runs and three wickets in this match.
On another warm sunny day Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat, after their success going in first in their previous match. The pitch was ideal, good for batting but with some life and bounce for the bowlers. The start was not auspicious for the home side. The first ball of the innings was misfielded by Brendan Taylor in the covers, a single resulting, and ten runs came off that rather poor over from Prosper Utseya, a surprise choice to open the bowling.
After that, however, it was Zimbabwe almost all the way throughout the innings. Pakistan hit the ball in the air, only to find the Zimbabwe fielding vastly improved on their previous matches. The catches were taken and three batsmen were out for 34 in the sixth over. However, Hafeez was still there, and despite lack of support at the other end he ran to another 50 off 37 balls. He then skied a ball from Price to long-on and departed for 51. Umar Akmal, who had been his best partner, ran himself out for 28, and the innings eventually closed at 141 for seven. Kyle Jarvis had been the best of the bowlers, with a remarkable three for 14 in his four overs. Zimbabwe now found themselves in with a good chance of victory.
Vusi Sibanda drove the first ball of the Zimbabwe reply straight back down the ground for four. He and Chamu Chibhabha proceeded to play with a confidence that suggested that Zimbabwe believed in themselves and were on course for victory. After four overs the score was 28 without loss, but then both were dismissed in quick succession and the wheels came off with a vengeance. Cephas Zhuwao looked out of his depth; the experienced Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor lost their wickets to soft shots, and Zimbabwe were 72 for six after 13 overs. The team seems to have a deep-set fear of Hafeez, whether he is batting or bowling, as he took three of the wickets.
With Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura together, Zimbabwe still had a chance, though 53 were still needed off the last five overs with four wickets left. Taibu did not look at ease at first, but Chigumbura played enough good shots to give hope to his team, until he holed out at long-on for 24. Utseya faced five balls without scoring, leaving 29 needed off the final two overs, and 20 off the last. Taibu made a gallant effort and managed to get it down to six needed off the final ball – only for the bowler to put a yorker outside the off stump that Taibu left in expectation of it being called a wide. It was adjudged just legal, justifiably, but it was a disappointing anticlimax and Zimbabwe had lost again. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 141/7 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 51, Jarvis 3/15), Zimbabwe 136/7 (20 overs; Taibu 37*, Mohammad Hafeez 3/11). Pakistan win by 5 runs.
Zimbabwe put Pakistan in to bat, the usual policy, and it did at least treat a comparatively small crowd of a few hundred to a brilliant display of hitting by the visiting batsmen. All the bowlers suffered, most of all Chris Mpofu, whose four overs went for 59 runs.
The first wicket fell in the seventh over, when Asad Shafiq slipped and was run out – but by then the total was already 74. Mohammad Hafeez once again was Zimbabwe's main destroyer, making 71 off 48 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) before being caught on the midwicket boundary, a stroke Pakistan probably thought was safe after three difficult chances had gone down in the deep. Zimbabwe's fielding was again found wanting.
Pakistan looked on course for a score of 200, but Zimbabwe did slow the rate with two more wickets. Sohail Tanvir came in to score 17 off five balls in the final over, from Mpofu, and the final total was 198 for four wickets. The Zimbabwe bowlers and fielders were shaken by such superb batting; Chamu Chibhabha, with one wicket for 17 runs off three overs, did as well as anybody and would probably have been a better choice than Mpofu for the final over.
Zimbabwe from the start had a mammoth task and had no alternative but to slog and the the scoreboard ticking. The Pakistanis knew where and how to bowl, and they did so skilfully, helped by some brilliant catching in the outfield. Their troubles began in the second over when, as a sign of things to come, Vusi Sibanda miscued a drive and Misbah-ul-Haq raced back from mid-off to take the first of several excellent catches by his team.
Chibhabha batted well for a while to make 26 off 28 balls, but it was Charles Coventry, restored to the team for this format of the game, who alone caused the bowlers some consternation. He hammered 30 off 13 balls, including four fours and a six, before inevitably skying a catch in the end, like so many of his team-mates, who had no alternative.
When Taibu was run out by a poor call from Price, it was only a matter of time, and in the end Zimbabwe subsided for 113, with almost five overs in hand. Almost inevitably, Hafeez was in the forefront of the bowling, and he took four wickets for 10 runs – and was again named Player of the Match. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 198/4 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 71, Chibhabha 1/17), Zimbabwe 113 (15.2 overs; Coventry 30, Mohammad Hafeez 4/10). Pakistan win by 85 runs.