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]
Southern Rocks are celebrating their first tournament victory, while Mid-West Rhinos are regretting their poor batting that cost them the match, their fourth loss in a final in two seasons. Malcolm Waller stood almost alone as their team collapsed for 151 all out, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi’s leg-breaks taking three vital wickets in the middle order, and there was no excuse for their batting failure. Southern Rocks kept their nerve and consistent batting from the top order took them to a fine eight-wicket victory.
For both teams this was the final game of the season, so they were not preoccupied with thoughts of the Logan Cup final, as their semi-final opponents had been. Southern Rocks won the toss and, no doubt encouraged by their confident run-chase on the previous day, put Mid-West Rhinos in to bat. This proved to be a good move, as their opponents never came to terms with their batting. The pitch was rather slow but gave the bowlers very little help, so the batting side had only their own inadequacies to blame.
Brendan Taylor again failed, chipping a ball gently up on the leg side, for mid-on to run round and take a diving catch. Both openers were gone for 5, requiring Vusi Sibanda and Waller to dig in, which they did with such care against a good attack that after seven overs the score was only 8 for two. Waller played a beautifully-timed flick over long leg for six, but Sibanda was never fluent, and finally chipped a catch to midwicket after scoring 14 off 38 balls. Riki Wessels top-edged a reverse sweep to the keeper and Remembrance Nyathi fell third ball, both to the leg-spinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi, and at this point Mid-West Rhinos were reeling at 54 for five.
Unperturbed by this lack of support, Waller continued to work the ball around the field in mature fashion, and at last found a reliable partner in Cremer. Cremer did a fine job in keeping the score ticking over, and the pair largely turned the situation around by adding 75 together at the rate of six an over. Finally, though, Waller clipped a low catch to midwicket and departed for an admirable 68 off 82 balls. There was not much left in the batting. Cremer, after batting so well for 37 off 39 balls, tried a foolish reverse sweep to be lbw to Kamungozi, the bowler’s third crucial wicket in the middle order. The tail collapsed and the team was all out for 151, wasting more than three overs of their innings. Mike Chinouya, like Kamungozi, took three wickets, while both Blessing Mahwire and Brian Vitori bowled very well. It was an excellent performance by a team that at the start of the season had been desperately weak in bowling.
With just 152 to win, Southern Rocks in theory could take their time and cruise home, as long as they kept their nerve. The wild card was a storm lurking on the horizon. Perhaps with this in mind, Sikandar Raza played a remarkably risky and fortunate innings, lofting many strokes just out of reach of the fielders and getting away with it. The bowling was good, but was inhibited by having too few runs to back it. Raza’s luck could not last for ever, though, and he was out for 44 off 72 balls, driving a sharp low catch to extra cover off Cremer.
Chibhabha continued where he left off the previous afternoon, batting in mature, sensible fashion, keeping the score moving but without taking risks. He is still not as comfortable against spin as pace, though, and Waller’s off-spin removed him lbw for 27, with the score at 98. But this was the Mid-West Rhinos’ last success. Craig Ervine again saw them home with an unbeaten innings of 42, but this time it was Elton Chigumbura who hit the winning runs, a hammer-blow past mid-on to the boundary. Southern Rocks have made great progress this season, despite failing to win a Logan Cup match, and this trophy will be a worthy tribute to their departing coach Monte Lynch, whose strong disciplined approach may not always have been appreciated but has worked wonders in the performances of several members of his side. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 151 (36.4 overs; Waller 68, Chinouya 3/28), Rocks 155/2 (34.5 overs; Sikandar Raza 44, Waller 1/14). Southern Rocks win by 8 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
The top two teams in the MetBank Pro40 Championship table, Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers, have both been knocked out in the semi-finals. Perhaps they were distracted by the prospect of the Logan Cup Final to be played between them both in Mutare, starting this coming Wednesday, but certainly both turned in very poor batting displays to be beaten by teams that finished below them on the log. Matabeleland Tuskers did even worse than Mountaineers the day before, being bowled out for a miserable 94 by Southern Rocks, with Brian Vitori taking five cheap wickets. The Masvingo-based team made light work of their target, losing only one wicket as they raced to victory before three o’clock.
Matabeleland Tuskers were to regret their decision to bat first on a pitch that was slow but otherwise sound. The fault, though, was not with the decision but with those who should have taken advantage of it. They never looked like making a big score right from the start. The left-arm seamer Vitori bowled a fine spell from the pavilion end, but he did not have too much opposition. He dismissed both the newcomer Brian Chari and the experienced Keith Dabengwa in his second over, and in his fourth the captain Gavin Ewing, who had played a lone game in keeping the score ticking over, was furious to be given out caught at the wicket off an inside edge for 21. The team was seriously handicapped, though, by the loss of their two excellent English professionals, though, with Paul Horton and Adam Wheater required to return to their counties.
The score was now 34 for three, and worse was to come. Charles Coventry battled to 16 off 37 balls before he fished outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket off Mike Chinouya, returning to the side after injury, and the rest of the middle order caved in weakly in a series of soft dismissals. The third wicket fell for 56 in the 20th over. At last now, however, when it was too late, came some spirited resistance. Brad Staddon played with admirable composure and skill, helped by 10 from Tawanda Mupariwa, and the ninth wicket put on 27 runs, the best partnership of the innings. It took the return of Vitori to capture the last two wickets, although Staddon’s lbw for 25 was another rather controversial decision. The total was a dismal 94, and it would have been much worse without Staddon’s fighting spirit. Vitori finished with five wickets for only 26 runs, while Robertson Chinyengetere took three and Chinouya two. Almost nine overs of their allotted 40 went unused.
Southern Rocks, unaccustomed as they are to victory, had nothing to worry about as long as they did not become careless. Matabeleland Tuskers came out fighting, and determined to show that fact to the world by the constant barrage of noise they kept up in the field. They did make the batsmen fight for the runs. Sikandar Raza and Cham Chibhabha played some good straight drives over the bowler’s head in the powerplay overs before, at 29, Raza (14) miscued a pull to deep midwicket off Chris Mpofu, who was fast and aggressive.
Craig Ervine, just back from the World Cup, came in next to play a solid, capable innings, his most notable strokes being pulls off the short deliveries. Chibhabha played a sound innings, speeding up as he approached his fifty, but he was denied this landmark by Ervine, who drove a four and a six off successive balls to take Southern Rocks through to the final. Chibhabha finished with 45 and Ervine 36. Well as the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had performed, their batsmen had not left them nearly enough runs to play with. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 94 (31.1 overs; Staddon 25, Vitori 5/26), Rocks 97/1 (20.3 overs; Chibhabha 45*, Mpofu 1/23). Southern Rocks win by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
The first semi-final of the MetBank Pro40 Championship between Mid-West Rhinos and Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club turned out to be a disappointing contest. Mid-West Rhinos seemed to have lost their chance as they managed to total no more than 200 on a good pitch, but then Mountaineers collapsed dismally against good bowling to be rolled over for 84. Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Solomon Mire all did well with the bat for the winners, while all the bowlers did well, Graeme Cremer finishing with the best result of four cheap wickets.
Mountaineers won the toss and decided to field. Mid-West Rhinos did not make a good start, losing both openers for 19, including Brendan Taylor who, if he was attempting one of his now famous uppercuts, miscued it badly and skied a catch that was well taken by point running backwards. He had never looked fluent in scoring 10 off 25 balls. Then Waller joined Sibanda and a good partnership developed. Sibanda did not always time the ball well and more than once a miscued stroke just evaded the fielders, but he stuck to his task. Waller began rather uncertainly but once he found his touch he played his strokes well and caught up with Sibanda. They had just taken the score past 100 when Sibanda ran himself out, starting off for a single that wasn’t there, near Timycen Maruma in the covers, and was unable to get back in time to beat a good throw. He had made 42 off 61 balls.
Waller reached 54 and then drove over a yorker from Netsai Mushangwe, and two more quick wickets fell. At this point Mid-West Rhinos were looking bad at 134 for six after 31 overs. It was an impressive and powerfully hit 45 off 30 balls from Mire that turned the situation around. Supported well by Cremer, he attacked the bowling with confidence, hitting two fours and three sixes. Off the last ball of the 40 overs Mid-West Rhinos reached 200, with six wickets down. Shingi Masakadza and Maruma took two wickets each, but both only bowled five of their allotted eight overs.
If Mid-West Rhinos had started badly, Mountaineers began worse, even suicidally. Sensible batting should have achieved their moderate target. Jonathan Beukes was given out caught down the leg side off the first ball he faced, while Tino Mawoyo (6) drove outside the off stump and edged to the keeper. Hamilton Masakadza (2) was bowled driving at a full-length ball from Nicolson, while Maruma (6) drove a low catch to mid-off. The four most capable batsmen in the team had gone for 19 runs within four overs, leaving the rest of the line-up to pull off a near-miracle if the match was to be won. The bowling was very good, certainly, but not good enough to excuse such a fall of wickets to poor strokes.
The inexperienced 17-year-old Kevin Kasuza held on gamely, though, and Prosper Utseya helped him take the score to 45 before he mistimed a stroke against Cremer and sent a return catch. Kasuza finally fell at 71, slicing a drive to mid-off, having made much the highest score of 30. His lack of experience was clear but his determination impressed. Apart from a six by Donald Tiripano, the rest of the batting subsided without a whimper for a shameful total of 84. Mountaineers will need to do much better in the Logan Cup final next week. Nicolson and Lewis, who made the early breakthrough, took two wickets each, as did Richard Muzhange, while Cremer did almost as he liked in taking four wickets for 13 runs in seven overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 200/6 (40 overs; Waller 54, S Masakadza 2/17), Mountaineers 85 (25 overs; Kasuza 30, Cremer 4/13). Midwest Rhinos win by 116 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Dates are in for the rescheduled MetBank Pro40 semi-finals - if you remember, the first attempt at finals weekend was completely washed out.
Friday 25 March: Mountaineers v Midwest Rhinos
Saturday 26 March: Matabeleland Tuskers v Southern Rocks
I assume the final will take place on the 27th, but that's not yet confirmed. Matches to be played at Harare Sports Club.
Rain wiped out both of this week's Metbank Pro40 matches - Rhinos v Tuskers in Kwekwe, and Rocks v Mountaineers in Mutare - so it's as-you-were for the tournament table. The next matches are the semi-finals, and here's the lineup:
28 January Mountaineers v Rhinos Harare Sports Club 29 January Tuskers v Rocks Harare Sports Club
In a low-scoring match where the batsmen on both sides failed miserably to come to terms with the pitch, Mountaineers owed everything to their all-rounder Timycen Maruma for their victory over Mid-West Rhinos.
Maruma was the only batsman of the day to emerge with much credit, and his 59 was more than twice any other player in the match could offer. Mountaineers backed this up with fine bowling, but the Mid-West Rhinos themselves will always believe, correctly, that they should have been able to chase down a target of only 164.
This match was played at Harare Sports Club, a neutral venue, as the Mutare Sports Club ground was unfit for play after prolonged rain. At the start of the match Mountaineers were top of the tournament log with 18 points, while Rhinos were fourth with 12. Mountaineers, put in to bat, looked likely losers early on as their top order struggled to adapt to a slow pitch and could not time the ball properly. All the specialist batsmen failed, the only one to reach double figures being Tino Mawoyo, who made 20 before skying a drive and being caught at mid-off. The first five batsmen were all back in the pavilion for 50 runs.
The hero of the innings, and the match, was Timycen Maruma, who showed the others – too late for them – how to do it. He bided his time, pushed for ones and twos and waited for the right ball to make his big hits. Those big hits were a four and no fewer than five sixes, spread around the field from long leg to deep extra cover. He found capable support from Gary Chirimuta and Donald Tiripano, the latter helping to add 60 for the seventh wicket, a partnership that ensured Mountaineers at least had a target they could hope to defend. Tiripano made 16 before being run out backing up too far and being sent back. Maruma was finally dismissed lbw for 59 off 54 balls, as he advanced down the pitch to attack a ball from Rainsford and was hit on the full toss. The innings quickly closed for 163 with three balls in hand. Rainsford was the best bowler, controlling the ball well and taking four wickets for 27 runs.
When Rhinos began in pursuit of this moderate target, Brendan Taylor was not about to assess the pace of the pitch; he scored two off his first ball, from Shingi Masakadza, and then slashed at the second to present the keeper with a simple catch. Gary Ballance and Vusi Sibanda for the most part played sensibly against good bowling, apart from an occasional flash at the ball or a risky single, Sibanda finding it difficult to play in the gaps at first. They took the score to 35 before Ballance had his middle stump uprooted by a yorker from Tinashe Panyangara. When Sibanda miscued a pull to mid-on off Tendai Chatara for 15, the score was 41 for three and the match was in the balance.
It quickly swung Mountaineers’ way as they kept up the pressure, and three wickets went down in seven balls to make the score 60 for six. It was a puzzle why Riki Wessels, the one batsman left with the skill and experience to lead a fightback, had not come in until now, at number eight. For a while, it looked as if Wessels might do the trick. With Paul Franks as a valuable partner, he played with real intent and for the first time the Rhinos innings looked stable. But then he moved across too far to drive a straight ball from Prosper Utseya and was adjourned lbw for 22, the highest score of the innings; 95 for seven. It was now only a matter of time, and Utseya wrapped up the tail to finish with three for 10. But all the main bowlers joined in the spoils and they defended their target superbly. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 163 (39.3 overs; Maruma 59, Rainsford 4/27), Rhinos 130 (36.2 overs; Franks 22, Wessels 22, Utseya 3/10). Mountaineers win by 33 runs.
Another rain intervention, another no result, as today's MetBank Pro40 match between Matabeleland Tuskers and Mashonaland Eagles became the latest victim of the weather. Play did get started, with Eagles winning the toss and opting to field, but only 12 overs were bowled before the rain began, with the match being abandoned sometime later. Having lost two early wickets - Horton for 0 and Ewing for 9 - I doubt Tuskers would have been complaining too much. Both sides get 2 points from the abandonment, which moves Tuskers into second place ahead of Southern Rocks (who are on a bye this week), while Eagles remain rooted to the bottom of the table - and as they're on a bye during the final round of matches next week, they now have no possibility of reaching the semi-finals and are out of the competition. Scorecard, what there is of it, below the cut.
Tuskers 32/2 (12 overs; Duffin 12*, Keegan 2/12), Eagles did not bat. Match Abandoned.
Half centuries from Sikandar Raza and Chamu Chibhabha inspired Southern Rocks to a 45 run victory over Matabeleland Tuskers in a Met Bank Pro40 Championship match in Masvingo. Overnight rains caused a delay on the start of play due to a wet out field; one of the bowlers’ ends was too damp prompting the umpires to delay the start of play for the safety of the bowlers. However, frantic efforts by the ground staff paid off when play resumed earlier than expected.
The match was reduced to 32 overs. Tuskers’ won the toss and elected to field. The rains of the past few days did little to change the state of the wicket that was flat. For Rocks’ openers, surviving the new ball was key, something that they achieved, though Sikandar Raza was lucky to survive early on. First, he was dropped on the first ball of Tawanda Mupariwa’s over by Keith Dabengwa at mid-off. The next ball Raza launched a big one for six over the bowler. On the third ball of the same over, he survived again when his shot failed to carry towards Gavin Ewing at mid-wicket. Chamu Chibhabha on the other hand was playing with caution, but at the same time being able to score with relative quickness.
The first wicket partnership blossomed to produce 160 runs before Dabengwa dismissed Raza for lbw, sending the big hitter packing with a well played 80 off 59 balls. In came, Chigumbura who quickly found his stride forming a decent 58 run partnership with Chibhabha. Mupariwa bounced back to take two wickets in the 25th over. The first ball of the over was a full toss that Chibhabha pulled for a six. Then Chibhabha was caught at backward point by Gavin Ewing for 89 from 83. Chigumbura, was dismissed when he sky rocketed the ball to by Sean Williams at long off. The departure of Chigumbura ushered a batting collapse. Bradley Staddon picked 2 wickets in one over as Rocks finished at 253/6.
Needing just under eight runs per over, Tuskers openers had to replicate their Rocks’ counterparts with a big partnership. However, that was not be, instead there was a bowling partnership that did the early damage. Brian Vitori and Blessing Mahwire gave Rocks’ the kind of start they were hoping for. Duffin could only manage 6 runs from 11 balls before Vitori broke through his defences. Vitori came again in the next over to haunt Tuskers with the wicket of Charles Coventry for 11 (6).
Ewing held on from the other end until he was undone by unfortunate run out by Mahwire with a gallant 41 from 29 deliveries. Horton played a straight drive with Mahwire managing to put a hand to ball that hit stumps catching Ewing out of his crease. Williams’ comeback after missing the Castle Logan Cup match due to sickness, did not last long when he got a feint edge to wicket keeper Richmond Mutumbami.
Stuart Matsikenyeri was precise with his field placing and bowling changes. After drinks he brought Hillary Matanga who immediately made his impact with the wicket of Paul Horton with his first ball. Matanga’s spell proved to be very significant when he went on to claim another scalp in his next over, taking the game further away from the reach of Tuskers who kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
In a desperate attempt to save the game, Ewing brought in injured Keegan Meth who failed to bowl because of a knee injury that he sustained in the morning. Meth could only conjure a 21 run partnership with Staddon but that was not to be enough for Tuskers who finished on 208/8 in 32 overs. Matanga was the pick of the Rocks’ bowlers with four wickets for 30 in six overs, while Brian Vitori had two for 31 in five overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 253/6 (32/32 overs; Chibhabha 89, Staddon 2/33), Tuskers 208/8 (32/32 overs; Horton 48, Matanga 4/30). Southern Rocks win by 45 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Rain ruined this match at Harare Sports Club, cutting the overs drastically and turning it, indirectly, into an easy win for Mashonaland Eagles. This was largely because Mid-West Rhinos were unable to adjust to the different match conditions and made a serious mess of their innings. It was a good all-round bowling performance by Eagles, and Regis Chakabva (47 not out) led their cruise to victory.
Jupiter Pluvius played games with the cricketers at the start of the match. Eagles won the toss and put Mid-West Rhinos in to bat, but the start was delayed by a shower. When play did begin, only fifteen balls were bowled before the rain returned. During that time the visitors lost the wicket of Gary Ballance, who fenced at and edged a ball from Douglas Hondo to the keeper, for four runs. For the next couple of hours the showers came and went, returning each time play was about to start, and more than two hours were lost before the rain relented. The match was reduced to 25 overs a side, rather too harsh a cut as, even had the match gone the full distance; it would have been over before four o’clock.
Rhinos were quite unable to re-programme themselves to play what was now almost a T20 match. The bowling was tight but the batsmen were too defensive and soon got themselves in trouble through their slow scoring. Taylor hit one six over wide long-on before hitting a catch straight at midwicket for 17 off 19 balls; the previous delivery Vusi Sibanda had gone for 5 off 20 balls. After 13 overs the score was a mere 52 for five. Remembrance Nyathi and Rikki Wessels then shared a useful partnership of 41 in nine overs, with Nyathi (29) the dominant partner before he fell to a fine catch by Prince Masvaure running from long-on. Wessels did not bat well at first and he kept finding the fielders, but in the end he found his timing and raced to 43 not out. He finished the innings with a six over midwicket, which took the total to 120 for seven – but that was hardly competitive, at less than five an over. There were two wickets each for Hondo, Andrew Hall and Raymond Price, with Hall much the most expensive. The bowling had been good, but was helped by poorly judged batting.
The Eagles batsmen were much better prepared mentally for their innings, and were helped by knowing exactly what their none-too-difficult target was. Cephas Zhuwao, the designated suicide pilot, hammered away for 34 off 26 balls (3 fours, 2 sixes) before skying a catch in the sixth over. In the next over Prince Masvaure was superbly caught by Sibanda in the gully and they had to consolidate – but at 42 for two they could afford the time to do so. Regis Chakabva and Forster Mutizwa did so capably, adding 43 until Mutizwa was unfortunately run out, accidentally off the bowler’s hand, for 17. With Greg Lamb as his new partner, Chakabva led the way to victory with 47 not out off 42 balls, and there were still 4.3 overs in hand. Play finished before 3.40, which emphasizes that the regulations concerning interrupted matches like these need amending. At least 30 overs per side could very comfortably have been played. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 120/7 (25/25 overs; Wessels 43*, Price 2/17), Eagles 121/3 (20.3/25 overs; Chakabva 47*, Taylor 1/2). Mashonaland Eagles win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]