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Tuskers Consigned to Basement as Eagles Soar

Matabeleland Tsukers came within a whisker of keeping their semi-final hopes alive today, but Eagles eventually denied them with a 9-run win at Harare Sports Club. Tuskers won the toss and put Eagles in to bat, and the home side made the most of the opportunity given to them as they powered to 236/4 in their 5 overs - Greg Lamb (88*) and Forster Mutizwa (56) again provided the backbone for the innings, with Prince Masvaure also contributing an important 47 to the total. Tuskers' bowling failed to impress, with Tawanda Mupariwa's 1/15 being the best of the bunch.

In reply, Tuskers here always there or thereabouts as far as the required run-rate was concerned, but where Eagles managed to keep their wickets intact, Tuskers were losing theirs at regular intervals and by the closing stages of the innings found themselves in a position where an established batsman may have been able to sneak the win - but that wasn't to be, as the tail folded leaving Tuskers a painful 9 runs short and with 8 balls unfaced. Dion Ebrahim's 67 was the highlight of the innings, albeit a slow one off 110 balls, while Prince Masvaure again featured for Eagles, leading the bowling figures with 2/18. That assures Eagles of third spot in the table and a place in the semi-finals, which Tuskers are now assured of sitting out. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 236/4 (50 overs; Lamb 88*, Mupariwa 1/15), Tuskers 227 (48.4 overs; Ebrahim 67, Masvaure 2/18). Eagles win by 9 runs.

Rhinos Trample Rocks in Faithwear Meeting

Midwest Rhinos beat Southern Rocks by a convincing 8 wickets in the first of two Faithwear matches today, and in doing so left the door to the semi-finals open for Tuskers, who were still in with a shout of winning their own match in Harare when Rhinos claimed victory. A wet outfield had delayed the start of play enough for the match to be reduced to twenty overs per side, and it was Rocks who were given the chance to set the pace of play after being put in by Rhinos. It was only the Kenyan pair of Steve Tikolo (36) and Thomas Odoyo that put up much in the way of fight for Rocks, though, as a lower-order collapse saw the side restricted to 131/8 from their 20 overs, with five batsmen failing to reach double figures. Wickets for Rhinos were fairly evenly-spread, with Ed Rainsford, Taurai Muzarabani and Graeme Cremer all claiming two apiece.

Requiring 132 to win, then, Rhinos set about their task with a reasonable dose of caution, particularly after the early loss of Bothwell Chapungu, who hit his own wicket while on 7. Riki Wessels (74*) and Brendan Taylor (32) then began a well-paced innings that edged Rhinos slowly but surely towards their target. The loss of Taylor with the score on 103 then brought Vusi Sibanda to the middle, who saw the innings out with Wessels as the target was reached with 5 balls to spare.

No change in the league standings as a result of this match, but a morale-boosting win for Rhinos ahead of the semi-final that they're now assured of a place in. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 131/8 (20/20 overs; Tikolo 36, Muzarabani 2/19), Rhinos 132/2 (19.1/20 overs; Wessels 74*, Machiri 1/8). Rhinos win by 8 wickets.

Mountaineers Pile More Misery on Tuskers

Top-of-the-table Mountaineers eased past bottom-of-the-table Tuskers in the second Faithwear match of the round in Mutare earlier. Batting first after winning the toss, Tuskers' batting once again let them down as they were bowled out for 197. Captain Greg Strydom's 53 spared some blushes for the visitors, while Sean Williams provided a useful 34 on his return from injury, but there wasn't much else in the lineup to write home about. Natsai Mushangwe took 4/40 from his 10 overs for Mountaineers to help pile the pain on Tuskers.

In reply, Mountaineers never really seemed to be in any trouble. Opener Tino Mawoyo led the way with an unbeaten 66, while Hamilton Masakadza added 58 and Timycen Maruma 47 as the side eased home in the 43rd over. Sean Williams (1/58) took the only wicket for Tuskers. The result leaves Tuskers' participation in the semi-finals looking very unlikely - the side need to win both their remaining matches, and hope that 4th-place Rocks lose both of theirs, if they're to gain a semi-final place. Personally, I wouldn't bet on it. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 197 (48.4 overs; Strydom 53, Mushangwe 4/40), Mountaineers 201/2 (42.1 overs; Mawoyo 66*, Williams 1/58). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.

Rocks v Eagles Faithwear Match Abandoned

The Faithwear meeting between Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles was abandoned after less than five overs play after rain intervened. That leaves the match a no result, with two points awarded to each side. Scorecard, what little there is, is below the cut.
Rocks 8/0 (4.1 overs; Machiri 5*, Chigumbura 0/2), Eagles did not bat. No result - rain stopped play.

Eagles Edge Past Rhinos in Thriller

The second match of the round was Mashonaland Eagles v Midwest Rhinos in Harare. Both sides have been performing well in the 4-day Logan Cup, but have struggled to keep up with Mountaineers in the one-day competition and would have been looking to try and close the gap. Eagles won the toss and opted to field, and at first it seemed as though the opportunity to set the pace had given Rhinos the advantage - openers Riki Wessels (63) and Friday Kasteni 28) put on 89 for the opening wicket, and with Brendan Taylor adding a half-century of his own the Rhinos reached 268/6 from their 50 overs, a total that seemed as though it would be enough. Ray Price took 2/27 from his 10 overs for Eagles.

The early wicket of Tafadzwa Mufambisi with just 2 runs on the board would have also raised Rhinos' hopes, but it was all downhill from there as Eagles discovered some batting form - a third-wicket stand of 65 between Forster Mutizwa (49) and Ryan Butterworth (44) formed the foundation of the inninga, while Elton Chigumbura's powerful 90 not-out off just 55 balls drove Eagles to victory with just 7 balls to spare. The win sees Eagles leap-frog Rocks to take third place and narrow the gap on Rhinos to just 2 points. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 268/6 (50 overs; Wessels 63, Price 2/27), Eagles 269/6 (48.5 overs; Chigumbura 90*, Higgins 2/33). Eagles win by 4 wickets.

Mountaineers Ease Past Rocks to Maintain Unbeaten Run

First up for this week's round of Faithwear Metbank one-day matches was the Masvingo meeting between Southern Rocks and Mountaineers, where Mountaineers managed to maintain their unbeaten run in the competition. Rocks won the toss and opted to bat, and after some early wobbles - the first two wickets were lost for just 15 runs - managed to build a decent score of 278/5 from their 50 overs. Craig Ervine did most of the work with a quick-fire 111 not-out (from 103 balls), with Thomas Odoyo chipping in with a useful 55 not-out, also at better than a run a ball. Steady Musoso led the bowling for Mountaineers, taking 2/41 from 6 overs.

In reply, though, Moutaineers never looked in trouble. Opener Tino Mawoyo amassed an impressive 97, with Tatenda Taibu (53) and Timycen Maruma (64*) backing him up as the visitors chased down the total with four overs to spare. Hilary Matanga's 2/46 was the best of Rocks' bowlers, most of whom never seemed to cause any trouble for their opposition.

That leaves Mountaineers on top of the table with 24 points, double the tally of second-placed Rhinos & assured of finishing top - although with four of the five sides able to qualify for the semi-finals next month, it's really just last place that sides want to avoid. With Rocks just one win ahead of last-placed Tuskers, though, they'll be casting worried looks over their shoulders. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 278/5 (50 overs; Ervine 111*, Musoso 2/41), Mountaineers 279/4 (46 overs; Mawoyo 97, Matanga 2/46). Mountaineers win by 6 wickets.

Rhinos Edge Past Tuskers

Tuskers' turnaround ground to a halt on Saturday as Rhinos snuck a 1-wicket win in their Faithwear Metbank pairing in Bulawayo. Rhinos won the toss and opted the field, giving Tuskers the chance to set the pace for the match, and the early signs were good that they'd manage to put on a decent total. Bornaparte Mujuru led the scoring with 51, while Charles Coventry added 41, but the lower order went all to pieces - none of the bottom five reached double figures - allowing Rhinos to restrict them to 193 all-out. Malcolm Waller took 3/35, while Ed Rainsford chipped in with 2/47.

Rhinos got luck in their chase, though - only one person managed a decent innings (Vusi Sibanda's 82, one again pressing his case for a return to the national side), with the best of the rest being Graeme Cremer's 16. Patience allowed Rhinos to sneak their way home in the 48th over, though, with just one wicket to spare. For Tuskers, Chris Mpofu, Keegan Meth, John Nyumbu and Keith Dabengwa each took two wickets apiece. The win sees Rhinos close the gap between them and top-of-table Mountaineers from 10 points to 8. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 193 (42.1 overs; Mujuru 51, Waller 3/35), Rhinos 194/9 (47.3 overs; Sibanda 82, Dabengwa 2/18). Rhinos win by 1 wicket.

Mountaineers v Eagles Washed Out

The Faithwear Metbank series matchup between Mountaineers and Mashonaland Eagles ended with no result after rain stopped play. Early rain had already seen the match reduced to 43 overs per side, while Eagles had built a reasonable start of 111/2 led by Forster Mutizwa (42*), but then the rain came down again and that was the end of that. Both sides take 2 points from the match. Scorecard below the cut, what there is of it.
Eagles 111/2 (21.5/43 overs; Mutizwa 42*, S Masakadza 2/16), Mountaineers did not bat. No result - rain stopped play.

Tuskers Gore Rocks

Tuskers, fresh from their Logan Cup win against the Rocks earlier in the week, would have been looking to continue their good run in this match, and on early form seemed likely to pick up another win. After winning the toss and opting to bad, the Bulawayo side posted an impressive 299/7 - Bornaparte Mujuru led the charge with a rapid 89 off 81 balls, supported by Terence Duffin (68) and Dion Ebrahim (61). Tafadzwa Kamungozi was the best of the bunch with the ball for Rocks, taking 2/59, but come the half-way point it looked as though Rocks had a small mountain to climb.

While they made a spirited attempt, though, it was a mountain they couldn't quite scale. Openers Erick Chauluka (44) and Steven Marillier (21) got the side off to a reasonable start, but from there wickets began to fall regularly, despite some decent individual knocks - Steve Tikolo top-scored with 54, Tendai Chitongo added 36 and Thomas Odoyo chipped in with 32 - but the total was just too much and Rocks were bowled out 39 runs short of their target - although by that stage the run-rate was probably beyond them anyway. Surprise performance of the tournament so far, though, goes to Tuskers' Dion Ebrahim, who took 5/45 with the ball - a remarkable performance given that he doesn't even bowl regularly. That brings his career List A bowling figures to 8 wickets in 126 matches.

Flight mode! Blessing Mawhire bowls to Terence Duffin
Flight mode! Blessing Mawhire bowls to Terence Duffin

Bornaparte Mujuru in action
Bornaparte Mujuru in action

That gives Tuskers some points, but still leaves them bottom of the table on net run rate at the halfway point of the competition - not where they'll want to be. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 299/7 (50 overs; Mujuru 89, Kamungozi 2/59), Rocks 261 (46.5 overs; Tikolo 54, Ebrahim 5/45). Tuskers win by 38 runs.
[Images used in this post ©ZC]

Mountaineers Trample Rhinos

History repeated itself in Mutare today - in their Logan Cup meeting earlier in the week, Rhinos had a woeful first innings against the Mountaineers, and in today's match had an equally bad opening knock. In the Logan Cup, of course, they had a second innings an used it well to make a remarkable comeback, but the one-day game isn't quite so forgiving. Rhinos won the toss and opted to bat, and almost immediately began to fall apart. There were only two partnerships of note: Friday Kasteni (39) and Vusi Sibanda (15) put on 48 for the 3rd wicket, while Solomon Mire (70*) and Michael Chinouya (6) added 59 for the final wicket as the Rhinos' tail wagged. The side were still bowled out for 166 in the 44th over, though, and needed to perform a miracle with the ball if they were to claim the points from the match. Donald Tiripano led the bowling for Mountaineers with figures of 4/27.

There was to be no miracle, though - in fact, Rhinos weren't even able to claim a wicket on the day, as opening pair Bernard Mlambo (88*) and Tino Mawoyo (63*) completed the chase without any help, other than from Rhinos bowlers, who proved completely unable to contain the duo. That secured Moutaineers a 10-wicket win, and left them sitting pretty on top of the Faithwear Metbank table at the half-way point of the competition, unbeaten and with double the points of their nearest rivals. Unstoppable? Just maybe. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 166 (43.4 overs; Mire 70*, Tiripano 4/27), Mountaineers 170/0 (36 overs; Mlambo 88*, Mayowo 63*). Mountaineers win by 10 wickets.

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