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Mountaineers Edge Eagles

It was another closely fought match between Mashonaland Eagles and Mountaineers, this time in the one-day competition, a match that swung from one side to the other until the penultimate over, when a burst of strokes from Prosper Utseya saw the visitors home with six balls to spare. Nick Compton’s superb century had given Mash Eagles a fine opportunity to make a big score, but the later batting failed and, well though they bowled, they could not halt the determined Mountaineers from recording another win.

Both teams were strengthened by the return of the leading players who had just completed their tour of Bangladesh. Eagles decided to bat on winning the toss in warm, dry, partly cloudy conditions. Tendai Chatara bowled a good opening spell that prevented the big hitter Cephas Zhuwao from taking charge, and soon had him slashing a catch to the keeper for 6.

Eagles’ total of 222, though, was composed almost entirely of the two partnerships that came next, with Compton playing the major part in both. First he added 98 in 19 overs with Simba Gupo, and then 73 in 11 overs with Forster Mutizwa, and while he was there his team looked likely to build a very challenging total. He scored heavily from pulls early in his innings, as some of the bowlers pitched too short, but also played orthodox strokes all round the wicket once the bowlers got the message. The 50 came up in the ninth over and the 100 in the 18th. Gupo batted well for 35 until he was out to a brilliant leaping one-handed batch by Timycen Maruma at long-on. Mutizwa then came in and gave Compton good support in his 29, and at one stage the total was 183 for two in the 33rd over.

At this point Compton (102) swept a catch and the innings went downhill from there, just at the point when they should have been destroying the bowling in the final over. In the last 7.1 overs seven wickets fell for 39 runs, with Shingi Masakadza being the main beneficiary, taking four of them for 32 runs in his five overs. Mountaineers had fought back very well and were no doubt relieved that their target was not nearly as difficult as had looked likely. The slide of the Mash Eagles batting at the end of the innings turned out to be crucial in the result.

Tino Mawoyo and Jonathan Beukes began the Mountaineers innings with great determination, against steadily bowling that gave nothing away, Chad Keegan being the tightest of all. The batsmen had to rely on keeping the scores moving with ones and twos, but they did keep their wickets intact. They were not parted until the 21st over, when Mawoyo, on 43, hit a low return catch to Tino Mutombodzi; the score was now 101 for one. The scoring rate slowly began to climb, and with ten overs to go 75 runs were needed – but with eight wickets still in hand, Greg Smith having gone for 13.

A critical moment occurred when Beukes, on 61, was dropped off a hard low chance to the fielder on the square-leg boundary. Maruma was threatening to take control when he sliced a hard catch into the covers for 25, quickly followed by Mark Vermeulen for 2. But the balance shifted again as Beukes kept accumulating while Shingi Masakadza hit at everything with much success. With three overs in hand, 17 were needed, and for the first time the required rate was below six an over. At this point Beukes, with a fine 86 off 102 balls, hit a return catch to Innocent Chinyoka and the match was wide open again.

Utseya scooped a vital boundary over the keeper, off Douglas Hondo, and then swung another four wide of mid-on, and the 12 required runs were completed from the penultimate over. Mountaineers had won with a final burst and an over to spare, Utseya scoring 11 off five balls and Masakadza 27 off 18. The home side had bowled well and Chinyoka had three wickets to his credit, but the Mountaineers after their good start had just enough power to get home in time. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 222/9 (40 overs; Compton 102, S Masakadza 4/32), Mountaineers 223/5 (39 overs; Beukes 86, Chinyoka 3/39). Mountaineers win by 5 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Rhinos v Rocks Pro40 Match Abandoned

The MetBank Pro40 meeting between Midwest Rhinos and Southern Rocks, scheduled for yesterday in Kwekwe, was abandoned without any play due to rain & a wet outfield. With no result, both sides take two point each from the abandonment.

Mountaineers Go Top After Win Over Tuskers

Mountaineers eased to a comprehensive 78-run win over Matabeleland Tuskers in the MetBank Pro40 match in Bulawayo yesterday. Led by Timycen Maruma's 67, Mountaineers set a target of 205 for the home side to chase, with Jonathan Beukes (38) and Greg Smith (33) also chipping in while Tawanda Mupariwa and Bradley Staddon each took three wickets to restrict Mountaineers to what seemed to be a gettable total.

Mountaineers' bowlers had other ideas, however, and put in an impressive display to bowl Tuskers out for just 127. Gavin Ewing (32) and Mbekezeli Mabuza (30) were the best of a woeful bunch for Tuskers, with seven batsmen failing to reach double figures, while Donald Tiripano (4/14) and Tinashe Panyangara (2/30) led the way with the ball to secure the win for Mountaineers. The winning margin secured the bonus point for the Mutare side, and that's enough to put them top of the tournament table, ahead of Tuskers on run rate. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 205/9 (40 overs; Maruma 67, Staddon 3/24), Tuskers 127 (32.1 overs; Ewing 32, Tiripano 4/16). Mountaineers win by 78 runs.

Compton Secures Win for Eagles

This was rather a disappointing match, spoiled by intermittent rain throughout the day and the poor performance of the Southern Rocks team - but then there were very few spectators to be disappointed anyway. Midweek matches in isolation do this tournament no favours at all. Mashonaland Eagles were on top almost from the start, with brilliant batting from Forster Mutizwa and Nick Compton in particular, while only a magnificent fighting innings from Steve Tikolo saved Southern Rocks from serious degradation.

These two teams are actually at the bottom of the competition table, although Southern Rocks began the match with eight points from two victories, while Eagles had no points from their four matches, all lost. With the weather uncertain, Southern Rocks put Eagles in to bat on winning the toss. Once again they soon dropped a catch, as Cephas Zhuwawo was let off a hard airborne hit at backward point; he was soon celebrating with a six over long-off. Simba Gupo also had a fortunate escape, edging a ball just over slip to the boundary, but at 47 in the eighth over Zhuwao was bowled by Brian Vitori for 17; he had not altogether batted in his usual devastating style, taking 23 balls for his runs.

Gupo, who has not had much success at franchise level, batted well for his innings, especially as it was interrupted several times by brief rain breaks. He made 54 off 67 balls before being out to an overhead catch at midwicket off Robertson Chinyengetere. Then came the match-winning of the innings, between Mutizwa and Compton. Mutizwa batted with wonderful fluency, at one stage hitting Bruce Tembo for two successive sixes, and raced to 62 off 49 balls before sweeping a catch to the fieldsman at deep square leg. Compton's 50 also brought up the 200 in the 36th over, and by the end of the innings he had reached 90 (80 balls), many of the later runs coming with outrageous reverse shots or swings over the wicket-keeper's head. The total reached a very useful 257 for six, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi taking four for 44 with the benefit of wickets in the last few overs when the batsmen were slogging.

Southern Rocks never looked like making a challenge. They lost Steve Marillier, lbw to the first ball of the innings, and three wickets were down for 38 in the seventh over, all to Chad Keegan. This included Sikandar Raza, the man Eagles feared most for his ability to carve the bowling to pieces, the catch taken by the bowler himself after the batsman had skied a ball straight up. The inexperienced Roy Kaia did his best, but was unable to score at any pace, and once again a face-saving operation was needed by Tikolo, coming in far too low in the order at number seven. The two were sharing a useful partnership that had reached 45 when the light drizzle through which play had taken place for some time again worsened and they left the field at 98 for five in the 23rd over.

After the interval, Tikolo showed what might have happened had he batted at, say, number four, as he quietly tore the bowling to pieces, hitting boundaries almost at will, and this finally encouraged Kaia to hit out as well. The partnership finally came to an end for 102 in 15 overs, as Kaia was run out off a no-ball, for a promising 40. Then came more rain - it would have saved trouble to call the match off at this point and let everyone go home, but the laws must be followed, and it was another 20 minutes before the inevitable became official and the match was awarded to Eagles on Duckworth-Lewis. Tikolo the Great finished with 68 not out off 55 balls, and his team 161 for six in the 30th over. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 257/6 (40 overs; Compton 90*, Kamungozi 4/44), Rocks 161/6 (29.2 overs; Tikolo 68*, Keegan 3/21). Mashonaland Eagles win by 36 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

Rocks Bounce Back to Defeat Mountaineers

An inexperienced but inspired Southern Rocks team caused a shock when they turned the tables on the Mountaineers team that had just beaten them by an innings in the Logan Cup match and won the exciting 40-over match that followed. It was a fine all-round team performance, with Steve Marillier and Tendai Chitongo taking the batting honours, while among the bowlers the debutant Bruce Tembo had a day to remember.

A light rain delayed the start of the match for about 90 minutes and caused it to be reduced to a 33-over contest. Mountaineers put Southern Rocks, who made five changes to their four-day team, in to bat on winning the toss. The Rocks’ hit-man, opening batsman Sikandar Raza, did not come off on this occasion, edging a ball from Tinashe Panyangara to the keeper with only one boundary to his credit.

Then came a crucial partnership between Marillier and Stuart Matsikenyeri that laid a firm foundation for the innings. Marillier made most of the early running, but then Matsikenyeri found his touch, although surviving a chance at long leg when 29 – one of several chances that the Mountaineers fielders put down during the morning. Marillier reached his fifty, off 60 balls, with a six over long-off, but was then bowled for 57 driving at a ball from Timycen Maruma. Matsikenyeri immediately followed for 36, caught at deep extra cover, and at 103 for three in the 19th over Rocks were in danger, especially when Steve Tikolo fell cheaply soon afterwards.

Here Chitongo, a player well rated by the coach Monte Lynch, took over with a fine mature innings. He added 29 in five overs with Alester Maregwede, helped to galvanize the lower middle order, and finished with 41 off 39 balls, the only batsman in the team to score at better than a run a ball. The final total was 192 for seven; there were two wickets each for Panyangara and Natsai Mushangwe, while Donald Tiripano also bowled well. It was not a great total considering the weakness of the home team’s bowling.

When Southern Rocks took the field, it was immediately clear they were fired up and enthusiastic, more so than their perhaps over-confident opponents had been. In the second over Tino Mawoyo was caught at mid-on for a single, a wicket that was celebrated by the fielders and a small vocal crowd of about 50 and growing. Bernard Mlambo quickly followed, skying a catch for 11; 16 for two in the fourth over. Both wickets went to the debutant seamer Tembo. Southern Rocks, it appeared, were ready to pull off an upset victory.

Then came what might have been the turning point, as Jonathan Beukes, on 2, skied a fairly simple catch towards midwicket, which the fielder running in dropped. It could have had disastrous consequences, as Beukes and Mark Vermeulen immediately started to attack, hammering the limited attack freely. No further wicket fell until 75, when Vermeulen was caught at long-on in the 12th over for 26 and Mountaineers were well ahead of the required run rate. Beukes was looking in fine form when he also fell to a boundary catch for 39 off 52 balls, and with the opposition 91 for four in the 16th over Southern Rocks were in with a chance again.

Excitement intensified as Maruma departed for 9. The fielding was tight and the batting tense and Mountaineers began to fall behind the clock. With ten overs left, 73 runs were still needed with four wickets left, the key one being that of Greg Smith. But first Tiripano (10) and then Smith (30) were narrowly run out by Robertson Chinyengetere trying to keep up the scoring rate, and the last wicket fell 30 runs short of victory with more than three overs in hand. The best figures were those of Tembo, two for 22, although he was only given four overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 192/7 (33/33 overs; Marillier 57, Panyangara 2/34), Mountaineers 162 (29.2/33 overs; Beukes 39, Tembo 2/22). Southern Rocks win by 30 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Tuskers v Rhinos Pro40 Clash Abandoned After Injury

The Metropolitan Bank Pro40 encounter between Matabeleland Tuskers and Midwest Rhinos at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo was abandoned with only eight balls bowled due to some damp patches on the outfield which the umpires deemed unsafe to the players.

Tuskers, who had won all their previous three matches, were on five runs for the loss of one wicket in 1.2 overs when the umpires took the players off the field. After heavy rains had pounded the pitch the previous night, two visible patches were left deep on the outfield and this saw the match not able to start on scheduled time.

When the match started two hours late, Midwest Rhinos skipper Vusi Sibanda won the toss and sent Matabeleland Tuskers in to bat.

The hosts were in trouble as early as the first over. Ian Nicolson enticed Terrence Duffin with a delivery wide on the off stump and the left hander could only get the ball into the hands of Gary Ballance at gully to depart for a five-ball duck with Tuskers only having two runs on board.

The players were however off the field 1.2 overs into the match after Rhinos fielder Remembrance Nyathi slipped on the wet patch and injured his right ankle while trying to field a ball struck by Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing and the match never resumed. What there is of a scorecard is below the cut.
[Match report via ZC]

On-Fire Mountaineers Trounce Rhinos

Mountaineers claimed victory in their rain-affected Pro40 match against MidWest Rhinos today, after powering their way to 301/7 from their 40 overs. Batting first after being put in by Rhinos, four Mountaineers batsmen reached the 50 mark - Tino Mawoyo (50), Jonathan Beukes (67), Greg Smith (57) and Timycen Maruma (59) - to make sure that Rhinos were always going to be facing an uphill battle to win the match. Chasing, Rhinos got off to a quick start thanks to opening duo Brendan Taylor (67) and Gary Ballance (24), but once they were removed the brakes went on and the run rate quickly fell back below what was required. Rain intervened during the 28th over, with Rhinos on 177/6, and with that being the end of play it fell to Duckworth and Lewis to resolve matters - and Rhinos fell some way short. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 301/7 (40/40 overs; Beukes 67, Waller 2/34), Rhinos 177/6 (27.4/27.4 overs; Taylor 67, Mushangwe 3/30). Mountaineers win by 43 runs (D/L method).

Tuskers Complete Double Over Eagles

Another sub-par performance from the Eagles left them rooted to the bottom of the MetBank Pro40 table, as Tuskers completed a domestic double over them after beating them in the Logan Cup earlier in the week. Eagles, put in to bat after Tuskers won the toss, posted a sub-par 196 all out in just over 35 overs, with Tuskers' Chris Mpofu (3/32) leading the bowling. Chasing, Tuskers got off to a slightly slow start, but led by Terry Duffin's patient 88 - the only knock of note - they chased down to target with just over 4 overs to spare. Greg Lamb took 3/42 for Eagles, while Ray Price marked his return to the side with an economic 25 runs conceded off the 7 overs he bowled. The win leaves Tuskers sitting pretty at the top of the tourney table, a Eagles languishing at the bottom - a complete reversal over last season's form for both sides. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 196 (35.1 overs; Butterworth 45, Mpofu 3/32), Tuskers 197/6 (35.5 overs; Duffin 88, Lamb 3/42). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 4 wickets.

Ballance Creates Magic for Rhinos

Gary Ballance, nephew of the great Dave Houghton, has announced his arrival on the Zimbabwe cricket scene in magnificent fashion. After scoring two handsome fifties in the Logan Cup match against Mashonaland Eagles a few days earlier, he hit a magnificent 135 not out in the Metbank 40-over championship match that followed to lead his team, MidWest Rhinos, to a thrilling two-wicket victory over the same opposition at Kwekwe.

Had it not been for him, assisted by Rhinos captain Vusi Sibanda, Eagles would have won the match with ease, as man for man they played the better cricket. Their batting was more consistent, their bowling more accurate and their fielding better. But they were beaten by one superb innings, as can happen in one-day cricket, that snatched the match from their grasp.

Rhinos put the Eagles in to bat on winning the toss, but they do not have the bowling strength at present to take advantage of it. Taurai Muzarabani bowled quite well, but the others were not able to keep the Eagles batting in check. Rhinos had a lucky break when Friday Kasteni ran out Simbarashe Gupo early on, but the next three batsmen in the order all reached 50. Cephas Zhuwawo's 57 off 62 balls gave the Eagles a flying start, but even he was put in the shade when Forster Mutizwa came in and scored 50 off only 37 balls. Between them Prince Masvaure played soundly for 62, but the Rhinos fielders were guilty of dropping several chances. 248 for five looked a good score.

It would have been, too, but for the superb century by Ballance. Two wickets were down for 21, but then he shared a vital stand of 123 with Sibanda, who hit a fine 58 off 55 balls. When Sibanda left, the middle order steadily departed, and had Ballance gone, Eagles would have taken the match. But he stayed to the end, hitting another boundary to win the match with three balls to spare in the final over. He faced only 121 balls, and hit 12 fours and three sixes. Douggie Hondo was the best bowler of the match, taking three for 31 off his eight overs; he may have contained Ballance to an extent, but he could not dismiss him. Gary Ballance's future in Zimbabwe cricket will be very interesting to watch. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 248/5 (40 overs; Masvaure 62, Waller 1/36), Rhinos 252/8 (39.3 overs; Ballance 135, Hondo 3/31). MidWest Rhinos win by 2 wickets.

Tuskers Claim Second Metbank Pro40 Win

Matabeleland Tuskers earned their second win in the Metbank Pro40, edging out Southern Rocks by five runs in an encounter which went down to the wire at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Mbekezeli Mabuza was the hero for the home franchise, scoring an unbeaten 46 runs at number seven, before going on to bowl the last and most crucial over in which Rocks needed 10 runs to win and gave away only four runs. Mabuza had earlier shared a century stand with wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, who once again top scored with 69 runs for Tuskers in their total of 218.

Rocks failed to capitalise on a perfect start from their openers Tendai Chitongo (73) and Steve Marillier (55). After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, Tuskers did not get a great start, reduced to 79 for five in the 18th over before Wheater and Mabuza dug in. Wheater, the hero in Tuskers’ Logan Cup match at the same venue, again starred with the bat, striking the ball well and complementing that with good running between the wickets in his partnership with Mabuza. Wheater got most of his runs with the slog sweep shot, raced to his half century after facing just 52 deliveries, smashing three fours in the process before he became one of left arm seamer Tendai Chisoro victims. Keegan Meth got an inside edge off a Chinouya delivery and was bowled for one run.

Mabuza found another partner in Bradley Staddon and the two shared in a seventh wicket stand of 36 runs. Mabuza finished with 46 from 66 balls, with Staddon contributing 20 off 11 balls. Chisoro finished with figures of four wickets for 26 with one wicket apiece for Chinouya and Keith Kulinga.

Southern Rocks got a perfect start from their opening pair of Steve Marillier and Tendai Chitongo, who put on 102 runs for the first wicket before left arm spinner Williams who found the breakthrough when he had Marillier taken in the deep by John Nyumbu. Off-spinner Nyumbu picked up three quick wickets to peg back the visitors. Mabuza reduced them to 189 for six but with four wickets, Southern Rocks were still in the hunt.

Ten runs were required off the last over, bowled by Mabuza with Stuart Matsikenyeri and Alester Maregwede the two batsmen at the crease, but only four singles came off the over and Tuskers had their second win of the tournament. Nyumbu was the pick of the Tuskers bowlers with three wickets for 31 runs with one wicket each for Njabulo Ncube, Williams and Mabuza. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 218/7 (40 overs; Wheater 69, Chisoro 4/26), Rocks 213/6 (40 overs; Chitongo 73, Nyumbu 3/31). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 5 runs.

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