Coca-Cola Pro50

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Mountaineers Cruise to Huge Win as Eagles Remain Winless

The other Pro40 match of the day was Mountaineers v Mashonaland Eagles, which while technically a home match for Mountaineers was played at Zimbabwe Cricket Academy in Harare (I'm hearing that there are issues with the pitch at Mutare Sports Club which may not be resolved until mid-season). Eagles have had a poor start to the season but were hopeful of getting in the win column today - but sadly for them, Mountaineers had other ideas. Batting first after losing the toss, an opening partnership of 127 between Tino Mawoyo (eventual top-scorer with 73) and new signing Jonathan Beukes (69) saw the side race to a dominant position, with Tmycen Maruma's 43 off 31 balls helping to cement their position. Eagles' bowlers finally started making some breakthroughs, but with Trevor Garwe's 2/45 being the best of the bunch it was hardly an inspiring display, and Mountaineers closed on an imposing 274/5 at the end of their 40 overs.

In reply, Eagles were never even remotely in the chase - starting with the first-ball departure of Cephas Zhuwawo, the wickets continued to flow, with only Simbarashe Gupo (36) and Trevor Garwe (28) hanging around long enough to make an impression as the side were bowled out in the 33rd over for a paltry 163, handing Mountaineers a huge 111-run victory in the process. That also gave Mountaineers a bonus point which puts them clear at the top of the tournament table, while Eagles are now languishing in last place. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 74/5 (40 overs; Mawoyo 73, Garwe 2/45), Eagles 163 (32.2 overs; Gupo 36, Mujaji 3/30). Mountaineers win by 111 runs.

Rhinos Claim First Pro40 Win as Rocks Crumble

After being denied the win in the Logan Cup meeting earlier in the week, MidWest Rhinos made no mistakes in their Pro40 match-up against Southern Rocks today, claiming an 18-run victory and getting their one-day season off to a winning start. Batting first after losing the toss, Rhinos posted a competitive 239/8 from their 40 overs, led by Malcom Waller's rapid fire 94 - his career-best List A score so far, coming off just 82 balls. Support in the lower order came from Friday Kasteni (52), and while the rest of the batting wasn't quite so impressive there was enough there to leave Rocks facing an imposing total. Blessing Mawhire's 3/40 led the bowling.

In reply, Rocks faltered early with the loss of Sikandar Raza on the 5th ball of the innings (the first of Solomon Mire's three wickets), but were steadied for a while by Tatenda Taibu, who top-scored for his side with 56. He departed with the score on 119/4, though, and from there a steady stream of lost wickets ultimately led to Rocks' demise. Rhinos captain Brendan Taylor, usually found behind the wickets, took the ball for a chug and ended up leading the bowling for his side, taking 4/35 as Rocks were bowled out for 221 with an over to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 239/8 (40 overs; Waller 94, Mahwire 3/40), Rocks 221 (39 overs; Taibu 56, Taylor 4/35). MidWest Rhinos win by 18 runs.

Tuskers Upset Mountaineers

In the second match of this week's MetBank One-Day games, Matabeleland Tuskers scored an upset win over Mountaineers in a low-scoring encounter in Bulawayo. Mountaineers won the toss and elected to field, going on to make short work of most of Tuskers' line-up, with seven batsmen failing to reach double figures. Terry Duffin, batting 7th, finally found some form in time to give Tuskers some semblance of credibility, scoring an unbeaten 54, with the only notable support coming from Keith Dabengwa (39) and Charles Coventry (29). The side were bowled out for a low 185, though, with one ball remaining from their 40 overs. Tendai Chatara led Mountaineers' bowling with 3/34.

Given the strength of Mountaineers' batting lineup, then, that should have left them a she-in for an easy win, but led by Chris Mpofu's 3/28 Tuskers dismantled Mountaineers' lineup. Hamilton Masakadza but up the only resistance, scoring 71, but none of the other batsmen passed 13 as Mountaineers were bowled out for 168, giving Tuskers a 17-run win. On top of Mpofu's contribution, Tawanda Mupariwa, Keegan Meth and Keith Dabengwa all took a pair apiece to help secure the win.

That leaves Tuskers top of the table on run-rate over Rocks, with Mountaineers propping up the bottom. With only one round played it's hardly the time to make predictions for the season, but it's certainly off to a different start from last year. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 185 (39.5 overs; Duffin 54*, Chatara 3/34), Mountaineers 168 (37.3 overs; H Masakadza 71, Mpofu 3/28). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 17 runs.

Rocks Claim First Blood in One-Day Competition

After playing out a draw in the Logan Cup, Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles managed a competitive game in the one-Day MetBank Series. The tournament has some unusual playing conditions - 40 overs per side, in keeping with the one-day domestic competitions in England and South Africa, but allowing sides to field 13 players each (11 batting, 11 fielding). Rocks won the toss and opted to field, and Eagles managed to post a fairly impressive 252/7 from their 40 overs, with Greg Lamb posting an unusually rapid-fire 96 off 78 balls to lead the scoring. Steve Tikolo took 2/46 to lead Rocks' bowling figures, but with Eagles having raced along at 6.3/over for their innings, it was Rocks who faced the uphill battle to win.

They didn't shirk from the challenge, though - while Steve Marillier fell first ball to get Rocks off to a bad start, Sikandar Raza scored a career-best 77 off 61 balls to get the chase off to a good start, and while the mid-order pair of Craig Ervine (3) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (27) threatened to bog the side down, the arrival of Steve Tikolo brought with it the firepower to finish off the chase, as he fired 56 off 42 balls to see his side home with 4 wickets to spare. Doug Hondo's 1/12 was the best of an uninspiring Eagles attack.

That puts Rocks in the unusual situation of topping the table, at least until the result of the other match of the round comes in, and Eagles in the equally unfamiliar place of bottom. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 252/7 (40 overs; Lamb 96, Tikolo 2/46), Rocks 256/6 (38.1 overs; Sikandar Raza 77, Hondo 1/12). Southern Rocks win by 4 wickets.

Mountaineers Win Faithwear MetBank Series

An hour before lunch, Mountaineers appeared to be certain winners of the Faithwear-Met Bank Trophy final after bowling Mid West Rhinos out for 144. At the interval, Mid West appeared certain winners after taking six Mountaineers wickets for only 66 runs. Yet, after all, in this incredible final where the balance swung so strongly from one side to another, it was Mountaineers after all who took the trophy. Helped by some strange bowling changes, the two bowling all-rounders Prosper Utseya and Shingi Masakadza shared a magnificent and totally unexpected unbroken partnership of 83 for the eighth wicket that took the home side home.

Mountaineers won the toss and decided to field, despite the apparently good batting conditions: the weather was hot and sunny, while the pitch looked flat. The first few overs certainly suggested this would be a batsman's game: Vusi Sibanda drove the first ball through the covers for three, and a total of ten runs came off that opening over from Shingi Masakadza. But it did not last long; Sibanda, though looking in superb form, fatally moved across his stumps to aim a straight ball to leg and was lbw to Tendai Chitara for 19 off 23 balls; 33 for one.

Brendan Taylor made a cautious start, and then ran out his partner, Friday Kasteni (16), calling him unexpectedly for a quick run for an overthrow. Briefly the bat took over again, with Taylor pulling Shingi Masakadza for a four and six in quick succession; his new partner, Rikki Wessels, hit a big six off Njabulo Ncube, only to swat a catch to cover in the same over. Then came another run out, with Taylor again culpable, calling Malcolm Waller for a risky single to the vacant slips while disregarding the speed of Tatenda Taibu. After these running misadventures, Taylor owed it to his team to play a major innings - but he then holed out on the midwicket boundary off the bowling of Ncube, and Mid West were 69 for five in the 15th over, after just 80 minutes' play. All their specialist batsmen had gone and the match looked as good as over.

Graeme Cremer and Bothwell Chapungu now got their heads down and put on a useful partnership in a seemingly hopeless cause. Chapungu played some good aggressive strokes, with wise discrimination, and made 27 off 36 balls before edging a catch to the keeper off Utseya. He was destined to be the top scorer of the innings. Cremer, in an hour, scored a determined 19 before getting a thick outside edge to a drive and lobbing an easy catch into the covers. Taurai Muzarabani, 19 not out, was the only other batsman to make a significant contribution, and the innings closed for a mere 144 in less than 36 overs.

Mountaineers had done well in the field, though without quite touching their best, helped by a poor display from the Mid West top order and poor running. The Mid West coach, Andy Waller, did not feel it was big-match nerves; "just poor cricket," he said. Utseya was the best of the Mountaineers bowlers, taking three for 24 with his nagging accuracy and just letting the batsmen get themselves out under the pressure. It looked like a dismally one-sided final and a formality for the home team.

Unfortunately for Mountaineers, their batsmen seemed to think the same thing. It was the sort of match where, if Mid West had made 100 more runs, Mountaineers would probably have knuckled down and got them. But the batting of their top order suggested they were over-confident and eager to finish the match as soon as possible. Mid West for their part came out fighting.

They opened the bowling with the leg-spinner Cremer opposite Ed Rainsford, their two best bowlers. Tinotenda Mawoyo immediately lofted Cremer for two leg-side fours, both only yards short of six, but the captain and bowler did not panic. Cremer adjusted, while Mawoyo failed to do so. He lived dangerously, dropped off a low chance at backward point on 16, and then slicing a catch into the covers off Rainsford for 21. His partner Stuart Matsikenyeri swatted a ball from Cremer straight to midwicket, and two wickets had fallen at 29.

Taibu also showed too little discrimination in his strokeplay, and was bowled for 12, having a big swing at a ball from Cremer. At the other end Rainsford had a good battle with Hamilton Masakadza, which ended in victory for the bowler; Masakadza skied a catch to mid-on for 11. This was the big wicket, and at this point the balance of the match swung from the home side to the visitors. The score was 56 for four.

Incredibly, Mountaineers continued the same senseless tactics that had got them into trouble in the first place. Timycen Maruma hit Rainsford for two fours; two balls later he was yorked for 9, and the score was 64 for five, in only the eleventh over. Rainsford and Cremer continued to bowl, Mid West knowing they now held the whip hand; Mountaineers still continued their march of the lemmings. Steven Nyamuzinga gave a low chance to second slip off Rainsford before slicing a catch to backward point, still without scoring, and now lunch was taken at 66 for six. Fine bowling and suicidal batting had turned the match on its head.

After lunch Rainsford and Cremer, who had still only bowled six overs each, finished their allotted ten, for one more wicket, Natsai Mushangwe going lbw to Cremer for one, departing with obvious dissent. Then Utseya and Shingi Masakadza showed that Mountaineers had not altogether given up hope and shared a partnership of great determination. Both players have first-class centuries to their credit, so Mid West knew that the match was not theirs yet. Muzarabani and Mike Chinouya took over the attack and bowled with purpose, but were resisted with great determination. A four through the covers by Masakadza off Muzarabani brought up the 100 in the 27th over.

This was now the best cricket in the match, with both teams fully concentrated and fighting for the final supremacy that would win the match and the trophy. Masakadza grew in confidence, some fine drives taking him past Chapangu's 27 to become the highest scorer of the match. 120 was posted in the 32nd over, and slowly Mountaineers regained hope. One or two false strokes almost resulted in catches, but the batsmen survived. Perhaps Sibanda erred in removing Muzarabani and Chinouya too soon, as the other bowlers tried made no impression, and even Wessels was called upon to turn his arm over, a quixotic decision. The match was clearly slipping away from Mid West again.

With eight runs needed for victory, Muzarabani was finally brought back. But it was not a good over and five came from it - four in singles and a no-ball. In the next over Mountaineers seized their incredible victory, as Masakadza lofted a ball from Waller high over mid-on for six. With the help and guidance of the national captain, who was unbeaten on 30, with his 41 he had dragged back for his team the victory and the trophy they had so nearly thrown away. They were wildly acclaimed by an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred that had swollen during the day.

Full scorecard & photos below the cut.
Rhinos 144 (35.5/50 overs; Chapungu 27, Utseya 3/24), Mountaineers 149/7 (37.5/50 overs; S Masakadza 41*, Rainsford 4/48). Mountaineers win by 3 wickets.

Mountaineers Cruise into Faithwear Final

Reigning Stanbic T20 champions Mountaineers cruised easily into the finals of the Faithwear-Metbank one-day competition after sealing a seven wicket semi final victory against Southern Rocks at Mutare Sports Club on Wednesday.

Mountaineers captain Hamilton Masakadza won the toss and sent the Masvingo based Rocks to bat. Rocks had a bad day in the crease as wickets started falling as early as the fifth over. Razzar Butt and Chamunorwa Chibhabha opened the batting and managed to score seven and four runs respectively. Eric Chauluka was the next man but did change the situation as he picked up eight runs before falling victim to Shingirai Masakadza.

Veteran Steve Tikolo was the only Rocks batsman to score above thirty managing a total of 37 runs before providing Tatenda Taibu with a simple catch behind the stumps off the bowling of national team skipper Prosper Utseya. The rest of the team added a total of 57 runs on the board bringing the troubled Rocks to a grand total of 134 all out.

The younger of the Masakadza brothers, Shingi, was the pick of the bowlers for Mountaineers as he posted figures of three wickets for 20 runs in six overs. He was also named man of the match, with an economy rate of 3.33 conceding two no-balls in his spell. Prosper Utseya who also had a fantastic game picked up two wickets after conceding eight runs in two overs. Tymcen Maruma claimed two wickets for 26 runs while teenage sensation Tendai Chatara walked away with one wicket equaling his captains wicket-taking in this match.

Tinotenda Mawoyo and Stuart Matsikenyeri opened the proceedings for the hosts with a 53 run partnership off 65 balls. Matsikenyeri was the first to heard back to the pavilion for a well orchestrated 36 runs after facing 48 balls proving five fours and one six. H. Masakadza joined Mawoyo and together they made a 54 run partnership before Mawoyo attempted to go for the maximum and was caught and bowled by Hillary Matanga for 40 runs. Masakadza who cleared the boundary for six five times and for four two times made 44 runs off 28 balls before being caught by Alistair Maregwede at cow corner. Nyamuzinga wrapped up the game with a square cut that went all the way for four off Butt's bowling.

Off spinner Hillary Matanga was the pick of the bowlers for the Rocks as he picked up two wickets for 333 runs in five overs. Butt claimed one wicket for five runs in five balls, ending Rocks campaign for the finals.

Full scorecard below the cut. Mountaineers will host Midwest Rhinos in what will be a stampeding final at Mutare Sports Club this Saturday.
Rocks 131 (39.5 overs; Tikolo 37, S Masakadza 3/20), Mountaineers 134/3 (19.5 overs; H Masakadza 44, Matanga 2/33). Mountaineers win by 7 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

Rhinos Make a Comeback

In a thrilling Faithwear semi-final at Kwekwe Sports Club, Mid West Rhinos in some measure atoned for their failure to win the Logan Cup final the previous weekend by scraping home by two wickets against the same opposition, Mashonaland Eagles. They were the better side all round on the day, but so nearly threw away the match at the death due to two stupid run-outs and self-doubt. Despite fine batting from Vusi Sibanda and Rikki Wessels, it took the ninth-wicket pair of Ed Rainsford, who had again bowled superbly, and Simon Mugava to cobble together the last 14 runs to ensure they face Mountaineers in Mutare on Saturday for the one-day competition final.

Mid West won the toss and put Mashonaland in to bat on what appeared to be a flat pitch. There was a good crowd from the start, most of it comprising several hundred schoolchildren, most of them well-behaved and adding to the atmosphere with their enthusiastic chanting and dancing. The start was not promising for Mid West, as they fumbled a run-out in the first over as the batsmen dithered over their opening run, and then Cephas Zhuwawo survived a low chance to third man with the score at 10.

However, there was a little early movement for the bowlers, and Rainsford and Taurai Muzarabani, bowling superbly, had the batsmen very wary, if rarely in real trouble. The first boundary did not come until the eighth over, when Zhuwawo slogged a ball from Muzarabani for six over long on. In the same bowler's following over he pulled a big six over square leg, but off the very next ball edged a low catch to first slip. He made 17 and Mashonaland were 30 for one. His opening partner, Prince Masvaure, did not survive him long, caught at mid-off for 13. Ryan Butterworth was superbly caught low at short extra cover when Mike Chinouya came on to bowl, and Mashonaland were suddenly 40 for three.

Mid West continued the pressure, fine bowling backed by tight fielding. Chinouya took another two wickets, having Forster Mutizwa caught off a slice to third man for 12 and Greg Lamb caught driving to mid-off for five; he was rested after bowling five overs for 20 runs and three wickets, and surprisingly was not called on again. Graeme Cremer was now bowling superbly at the other end, and he it was who took out the big fish. Elton Chigumbura, who had so often steadied his team throughout the season when needed, tried to sweep him, only to lob a catch to the keeper. Mashonaland were now in real trouble at 77 for six in the 24th over. Chigumbura later said that his top order failed to read the pitch successfully: it was slow and did not favour driving.

Now, though, the bowling lost some of its intensity, while the batsmen learned better what game plan to use on it. Regis Chakabva stepped in where his seniors failed and hit a superb 62 off 52 balls (2 fours and 3 sixes), supported by Mark Mbofana with 23, and the pair nearly doubled the score. Their partnership ended in a run-out, Mbofana being the victim, and Chakabva quickly followed, perhaps unsettled by it. From 153 for eight, though, Trevor Garwe (19) and Raymond Price (34 not out) forged an invaluable partnership of 44, with Price in particular showing some innovative strokes, notably the reverse sweep, which unsettled the bowlers. This enabled Mashonaland to save face with a final total of 221 for nine. Rainsford, with only 29 conceded off ten overs, was most unlucky not to take a wicket; he is on present form probably the best seamer in the country at present. There were two wickets for Muzarabani, expensive at the end - the neglected Chinouya in retrospect might have been a better choice for the death overs - and Cremer.

Mid West, in their push for the final, which will take place in Mutare on Saturday, had the worst of starts when Innocent Chikunya, without a run on the board, slashed at the fourth ball of the innings, well outside the off stump from Chigumbura, and was easily taken by the keeper. They nearly lost Brendan Taylor at 12 from a hard chance to mid-on, but this was one of several misfields by Mashonaland. Taylor showed, apparently, great confidence right from the start, but played some risky strokes; however, this may just have been an excess of adrenalin, as he settled down to play more judiciously. Sibanda was less flamboyant but sounder, showing good shot selection.

Price came on to bowl a tight leg-stump line and restrict the scoring, and soon captured the wicket of Taylor, who holed out at deepish extra cover. He made 31 from 34 balls and the score was 78 for two in the 14th over. The hundred came up in the 19th, at which point Wessels was missed off the simplest of chances at mid-on. It now looked as if this pair was well settled, but disaster came as a mix-up between the batsmen led to Sibanda being run out for 56 off 76 balls. Next ball Malcolm Waller was caught at slip, Butterworth being the bowler, and the balance of the match was suddenly changed, Mid West now stuttering at 117 for four in the 24th over.

Wessels, who refused to sacrifice himself for his captain, who was in such fine form, now had a moral responsibility to see his side through to victory. He and Cremer steadied the innings and built a sound partnership together. They added 72 together before, ironically, more poor running and another run-out saw the departure of Cremer for a valuable 22, just as Mid West were looking well set for victory. Wessels himself soon followed for 70, the leg-spinner Tino Mutombodzi taking a sharp return catch, and once again Mid West were in danger at 199 for six, 23 more needed with seven overs left and an unreliable tail to bat.

Friday Kasteni, the left-hander in such poor form recently, was the one recognized batsman left. A sharp pull for four off Chigumbura, returning for the death, showed he was not without confidence - but then the very next ball he tried a similar stroke to the wrong ball and popped up a simple catch to midwicket. This was trouble indeed now, with the two opening bowlers Rainsford and Muzarabani together. The ground erupted when Muzarabani swept Mutombodzi for a risky four, only for him to fall to a smart stumping next ball, with 14 still needed. But, with more than five overs left, at least they were not under pressure from the run rate.

It now looked as if the Mashonaland juggernaut would do it again as the novice Mugava joined Rainsford, talented but very inconsistent with the bat. Surprisingly, though, it was an over from Chigumbura, usually so reliable in a crisis, that gave Mid West their burst to victory. It included a high leg-side wide that went through to the boundary and some loose deliveries that went for runs and relieved the pressure. Finally a mishit by Rainsford brought three runs to the vacant fine-leg position off Mutombodzi, and Mid West were through to the final by the skin of their teeth - or by the thick inside edge of the bat. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 221/9 (50 overs; Chakabva 62, Chinouya 3/20), Rhinos 222/8 (46.3 overs; Wessels 70, Chigumbura 2/42). Rhinos win by 2 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

ZC Shuffles Remaining Domestic Fixtures

ZC have issued a revised schedule for the remainder of the domestic season, which affects all three domestic competitions. For full details, check our Domestic Fixtures page, but the main changes are:

Faithwear MetBank One-Day Series
The semi-finals, which were due to be played tomorrow, have been moved to 7th April. The final will close out the domestic season on 10th April.

Logan Cup
Most fixtures have been moved forward by one week, so the next round will begin tomorrow (13th January). The final weeks' fixtures, and the final, have been moved to late March.

MetBank Twenty20
The competition has been brought forward, with matches to be played between 12-20 February. The full schedule for this competition has not yet been issued.

Nothing like leaving things a bit late...

Rhinos Trample Mountaineers

Both of this week's matches in the Faithwear MetBank one-day series wewre dead rubber that could make no difference to the final tournament table, but with the semi-finals just a few days away there was at least momentum to play for. Mountaineers have set the running for most of the series, and went into this match with an unbeaten record, but it was Rhinos who came away victorious - and by a convincing margin. Mountaineers were put into bat after Rhinos won the toss, and were it not for the efforts of Stuart Matsikenyeri (86*) and Shingi Masakadza (57*) would have posted a frankly embarrasing total - Mountaineers were at 104/8 when the pair joined forces to put of a partnership of 108 that saw the side through to the end of their allotted overs and to a total that they had a chance of defending, at least on paper. Wickets were well spread around the Rhinos bowlers, with Michael Chinouya leading the pack with 3/39.

Chasing, Rhinos got off to an inauspicious start with the early losses of Innocent Chikunya and Friday Kasteni, but Brendan Taylor at 3rd became the anchor for the innings, seeing it through to the end and closing just one short of a ton, with Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Graeme Cremer providing support. Rhinos reached their target with 3 1/2 overs to spare, and a boost to morale ahead of their semi-final against Mashonaland Eagles. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 212/8 (50 overs; Matsikenyeri 86*, Chinouya 3/39), Rhinos 215/4 (46.3 overs; Taylor 99*, Musoso 2/33). Rhinos win by 6 wickets.

Tikolo Powers Rocks to Win Over Tuskers

Another match with only pride to play for, and for Tuskers it rounded out a series they would probably rather forget as they fell to yet another loss. They at least won the toss, opting to put Rocks in to bat. The Masvingo side posted a decent 231/7, lead by Steve Tikolo's rapid-fire 94 (scored off 84 deliveries). Some decent support came from Richmond Mutambami (43) and Alester Maregwede (38), but there was much in the way of useful contributions past that - although it would ultimately prove to be enough. Chris Mpofu led the way for Tuskers' bowling, taking 3/27.

Tuskers' innings was a string of starts that failed to go anywhere, other than Dion Ebrahim's 57, but for most of the innings Tuskers were doing enough to keep within reach of the total they were chasing. A string of wickets towards the end of the innings, though, saw them fall just short of their target - Chris Mpofu was lsat man out, with Tuskers just 8 runs short of their target. For Rocks, Blessing Mahwire, Thomas Odoyo and Chamu Chibhabha took 2 wickets apiece. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 231/7 (50 overs; Tikolo 91, Mpofu 3/27), Tuskers 223 (49.5 overs; Ebrahim 57, Mahwire 2/31). Rocks win by 8 runs.

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