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Rocks Edge Past Rhinos in Faithwear Thriller

The pigeon has arrived from Masvingo with the scorecard for the Faithwear one-day meeting between Southern Rocks and Midwest Rhinos, and it looks as though it were worth waiting for, as Rocks edged past Rhinos by just three runs to bring the two sides level in the tournament table (although Rhinos still have a narrow lead on net run-rate). Rhinos won the toss and opted to field, and after removing the Rocks openers for just 9 runs scored would have thought they were off to a flyer. The next four Rocks players would all show a little backbone, though, with Alester Maregwede's 91 not-out being the pick of the bunch. Combined with the efforts of Craig Ervine (36), Tendai Chisoro (31) and Eric Chauluka (28), Maregwede - stand-in captain on the day - led his side to 239 all-out from their 50 overs. Perhaps not the greatest of totals, but is was to prove enough on the day - just.

Rhinos' innings got off to a decent-enough start, barring the dismissal of Duncan Robertson (2) in the sixth over, but Rocks were able to take regular wickets and keep any of the Rhinos, other than Friday Kasteni (80), from pushing on to good scores - Ed Rainsford's 31 not-out at 9th was the best of the rest. Frustratingly, Rhinos were able to keep up with the required pace, but found themselves falling just short, reaching 236/9 from their 50 overs, just 4 short of their target.

So, Rhinos finally drop one, which has allowed Mountaineers to move clear at the top of the tournament table, and the Kwekwe side will no doubt be rueing the loss of their key players to the national squad. Rocks, meanwhile, are beginning to build some momentum and are looking like the surprise package of the competition. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 239 (50 overs; Maregwede 91*, Chinouya 2/19), Rhinos 236/9 (50 overs; Kasteni 80, Chisoro 3/45). Rocks win by 3 runs.

Rocks v Rhinos

You'll have noticed the absence of any reports on the Logan Cup and Faithwear meetings between Southern Rocks and Midwest Rhinos in Masvingo last week - that's because we're still waiting on hearing a scoreline, never mind seeing the scorecards. That said, ZC issues updated tables for both competitions this morning that give away the results: the Logan Cup meeting was a draw, while Rocks spring a surprise by beating Rhinos in the Faithwear match. More details on both matches if / when we get them.

Tuskers Downed Again

Monday saw Matabeleland Tuskers face Mashonaland Eagles on home turf in the Faithwear One-Day Series. Tuskers are the real under-performers of the domestic season so far, but once again they failed to get off to a good start, managing to score just 228 all out in their 50 overs. A high-powered Eagles chased successfully chased their target to win by 4 wickets, their first one-day success.

Terrence Duffin, whose performance has been below expectations of late and who was replaced as Tuskers captain by Greg Strydom for this match, redeemed some sense of pride as he made 53 off 65 balls before being stumped by wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva. Dion Ebrahim made 59 runs off 87 balls and Keegan Meth scrapped a valuable 51 runs only to be bowled by an in form Admire Manyumwa. Strydom made 19 off 27 balls while Keith Dabengwa, Matthew Williams, Tawanda Mupariwa contributed ten runs between them to leave the score on 218/9. The ever energetic John Nyumbu, partnered by the Zimbabwe U19 paceman Steven Chimhamiyo, brought the hosts to their 228 grand total. Nyumbu attempted to hit Mark Mbofana for six only to be caught by Chris Silverwood.

Mark Mbofana bagged 4/20 runs in seven overs making him the cream of the Eagles bowling attack. Manyumwa impressed the small crowd that had gathered at Queens Sports Club to watch the Monday when he took 3/40, runs while Mutombodzi and skipper Greg Lamb managed to grab a wicket each. Mashonaland set a very attacking field to restrict the hosts, although skipper Greg Lamb dropped a sitter off an attempted off-drive from Duffin.

Eagles went to bat after lunch break with Alois Tichana (10) and Tafadzwa Mufambisi (38) and were determined to win, displaying some great one-day cricket shots. Tichana was caught by Ebrahim to give Dabengwa his first wicket of the match, Mufambisi fell victim to former captain Mupariwa, while Nyumbu claimed Ryan Butterworth for 14 runs. Eagles' skipper lead from the front as he made 67 runs after facing 63 balls, making a seventh wicket partnership with Manyumwa of 39 to bring the visitors to their win.

Spin bowler John Nyumbu bowling to Eagles at Queens Sports Club
Spin bowler John Nyumbu bowling to Eagles at Queens Sports Club

Mupariwa and Dabengwa were once again the pick of the bowlers, recording figures of 2/37 in ten overs and 2/42 respectively. Nyumbu, (Zimbabwe A`s newly found spinner) and Matthew Williams managed to grab one wicket each. That leaves Tuskers languishing pointless at the bottom of the table, and with an uphill climb ahead of them to restore lost pride. Full scorecard below the cut. Tuskers 228 (50 overs; Ebrahim 59, Mbofana 4/20), Eagles 230/6 (48.2 overs; Lamb 67*, Dabengwa 2/42). Eagles win by 4 wickets

Rocks Break Their Duck Against Eagles

Southern Rocks finally got a win under their belt on Monday, defeating Eagles by 5 wickets in their Faithwear Series match in Harare, although it was hardly a team effort from the Masvingo-based outfit. Rocks won the toss and opted to field, and Eagles never seemed quite comfortable at the crease - a number of players got starts, but other than Greg Lamb (48) and Elton Chigumbura (42*), no-one made a significant contribution as the side worked their way to 236/8 from their 50 overs. Rocks' new star signing Steve Tikolo took 2/49, while Chamu Chibhabha took 2/30.

In reply, it was really a two-man show for Rocks, as Tikolo (82) and Craig Ervine (83*) did the bulk of the work in chasing down the target, with smaller contributions by Darlington Matambanadzo (28) and Tendai Chitongo (33). Rocks reached their target with nine balls to spare, leaving Eagles without a win in the one-day competition. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 236/8 (50 overs; Lamb 48, Chibhabha 2/30), Rocks 238/5 (48.3 overs; Ervine 83*, Chigumbura 3/40). Rocks win by 5 wickets.

Tuskers Remain Winless as Mountaineers Ease to Victory

Tuskers' woeful start to the season continued on Monday, while Mountaineers in turn maintained their 100% record in the Faithwear series with a thumping 8-wicket win in Bulawayo. Mountaineers won the toss and opted to field, and immediately had Tuskers on the back foot when Mark Vermeulen, who has been having a poor run of form so far this season, went for just one run, closely followed by Charles Coventry just four balls later. Sean Williams (58) was able to steady the innings, though, in tandem with Dion Ebrahim (15) and then Tafadzwa Ngulube (25), while Gavin Ewing's 48 not-out proved a useful lower-order contribution. Njabulo Ncube took 2/27 for Mountaineers, while Prosper Utseya was back to his parsimonious best, conceding just 29 runs from his 10 overs and helping restrict Tuskers to 217/7 from their allotted 50 overs.

Not a bad score, by most measures, but woefully inadequate on the day as Mountaineers treated Tuskers' bowlers as though it were a Twenty20 match. Only four batsmen were needed to chase the target, with Tino Mawoyo (50), Hamilton Masakdaza (51*) and current form man of the season Timycen Maruma (104*) more than countering Tatenda Taibu's disappointing knock of just 5. Mountaineers reached their target with a whopping 17 overs to spare, and in doing so confirmed their status as tournament favourites. Chris Mpofu (2/33) took both wickets for Tuskers, whose misery continues.

Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 217/7 (50 overs; Williams 58, Ncube 2/27), Mountaineers 218/2 (33 overs; Maruma 104*, Mpofu 2/33). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.

Mountaineers Ease Past Rocks in Faithwear Encounter

Better late than never, we finally have the full details of Sunday's match between Mountaineers and Rocks, which ended in another straightforward win for the home side. Batting first after winning the toss, Rocks - as in their 2nd innings in their Logan Cup match - failed to find any form, leading to them posting a score that was nowhere near to good enough. Chamu Chibhabha (38) and Alester Maregwede (36) did their best to form a foundation, putting on 51 together for the 3rd wicket, but it was all downhill after that as the side were bowled out for 177 at the end of the 42nd over. Timycen Maruma, Donald Tiripano, Natsai Mushangwe and Tendai Chitara all took two wickets apiece.

Mountaineers didn't have things entirely their own way in reply, with Tino Mawoyo, Tatenda Taibu and Prosper Utseya all falling cheaply, but captain Hamilton Masakdza's 86 not-out was enough of a base to ensure the win. Tendai Chisoro's 3/45 was a good effort, but not enough in light of the low target. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 177 (42 overs; Chibhabha 38, Maruma 2/17), Mountaineers 183/5 (41.4 overs; H Masakadza 86*, Chisoro 3/45). Mountaineers win by 5 wickets.

Eagles Blow Their Chance in Kwekwe

Eagles were on the verge of their opening win in the Faithwear one-day competition, but instead managed to lose to Rhinos by a meagre 3 runs at Kwekwe Sports Club on Sunday, leaving Rhinos unbeaten at the top of the table. Batting first after Eagles won the toss and elected to field, Rhinos posted at total of 252 before being bowled out - Brendan Taylor again led his side's batting with 62, while Friday Kasteni contributed 48. Greg Lamb (3/46) and Trevor Garwe (3/51) were the pick of an effective Eagles attack. Given that the home side had been earlier reduced to 12/3 after Elton Chigumbura struck twice in his first over, though, Eagles would still have been disappointed to let Rhinos push on that far.

In reply, Eagles suffered the same early-overs wobbles, losing both openers for just 5 runs on the board, but Prince Masvaure's 60 got their innings back on track and, with the support of Lamb (41) and Chigumbura (46), the Harare side soon seemed to be on track for victory, but a suicidal run by Tino Mutombodzi while his side were just 4 short of their target handed the points to Rhinos. With more than three overs left in the match, Mutombodzi set off for a run that wasn't there - Rhinos captain Vusi Sibanda sent in the ball to wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor, who effected the runout, and that was that.

Another successful day at the office for Rhinos, then, who are definitely now the side to watch in domestic competition. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 252 (49.2 overs; Taylor 62, Lamb 3/46), Eagles 249 (46.4 overs; Masvaure 60, Muzarabani 2/38). Rhinos win by 3 runs.

Rhinos Complete Double-Header Over Tuskers

From Logan Cup to Faithwear, where Rhinos once again proved their superiority over the Tuskers, this time led by Brendan Taylor. Batting first after Tuskers won the toss and opted to field, Taylor's impressive 112 not-out from 89 balls was ably supported by Innocent Chikunya (41 off 58 balls) and Solomon Mire (53 off 41 balls), as Rhinos powered their way to 306/7 off their alotted 50 overs. John Nyumbu took 3/27 for Tuskers in an impressive 10 over spell, but unfortunately the rest of Tuskers' bowlers failed to really hit their stride.

The same problem affected Tuskers' batsmen, too - once again it was Vermeulen (73) and Coventry (46) who made the running for their side, with Tafadzwa Ngulube chipping in with 33, but once again a lack of support was the problem. With Rhinos taking regular wickets throughout the innings (Graeme Cremer, Solomon Mire and Taurai Muzarabani taking a pair apiece), the chase never appears to be on, and Tuskers were bowled out in the 46th over, 61 runs short of the target.

Not a good week for the boys from Bulawayo then (and the Sunday News's reports of some problems in the Tuskers' camp won't be helping), but the side have a bye thins week which will give them a chance to regroup before the next round. In the meantime, Rhinos are suddenly looking to be the form side of the tournament. Interesting times, indeed. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut.
Rhinos 306/7 (50 overs; Taylor 112*, Nyumbu 3/27), Tuskers 245 (45.2 overs; Vermuelen 73, Muzarabani 2/39).
Rhinos win by 61 runs.

Wondering About Rhinos v Tuskers?

You'll probably have noticed the lack of real news about the two Midwest Rhinos v Matabeleland Tuskers matches - it appears ZC are having communications difficulties that mean the scorecards for both matches are not yet available, and we're holding off on the match reports until we have them. For the record, though, Rhinos won both matches. More details when we get them.

Mountaineers Claim Victory in Faithwear Opener

After choking in their Logan Cup meeting, Moutaineers claimed a moral victory over Eagles in their Faithwear one-day match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday. Mountaineers won the toss and again elected to field, leaving Eagles to set the running for the match - and at first glance, they appeared to do a decent job. Opener Samuel Mwakayeni led the charge for the home side, putting on a decent 40, and while only one of his team-mates passed the 30 mark (Prince Masvaure, with 32 not out), with five others scoring in the twenties the final score of 241/9 at the end of the allotted 50 overs seemed to be good enough. Returning rebel Barney Rogers made his debut for the side, but managed only a single run from 14 balls faced. Natsai Mushangwe took a useful 3/26 for Mountaineers.

In reply, Moutaineers' decision to pack their side with decent batsmen paid dividends. While some of their batsmen failed to fire - most notably Tatenda Taibu, out for a first-ball duck - the trio of Tino Mawoyo (47), Stuart Matsikenyeri (74) and Timycen Maruma (53) provided the backbone of a strong performance that chased down the required total with 4 wickets and nearly 4 overs to spare. Ray Price and Trevor Garwe took a pair apiece in a losing cause, leaving Eagles - one of the pre-season favourites - languishing at the bottom of the table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 241/9 (50 overs; Mwakayeni 40, Mushangwe 3/26), Mountaineers 242/6 (46.1 overs; Maruma 74, Price 2/20).
Mountaineers win by 4 wickets.

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