Stanbic Bank 20 Series

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[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Reclaim T20 Title

An exciting T20 final between the two former champions ended in victory for the first holders of the trophy, Mountaineers. At the halfway stage it looked as if the home team and last season's champions, Mashonaland Eagles, would triumph, as Mountaineers turned in an indifferent batting performance, and recent high scores in this tournament, especially by the home side, suggested that 143 was too small a target. But Mountaineers bowled and fielded superbly, and the pressure of the occasion probably affected the batsmen, and a middle-order collapse resulted in a fine victory for the Mutare-based team.

It was a humid afternoon with the possibility of more rain when Hamilton Masakadza won toss and bucked the trend by deciding to bat, perhaps with possible interruptions in play in mind. He probably soon regretted it, as the Mountaineers innings never took off. The start was promising enough, when Kevin Kasuza and Phil Mustard scored 29 together in just over three overs, before Kasuza (8) skied a catch into the covers. Then came a major blow, as Masakadza himself drove over a yorker from Andrew Hall and was bowled without scoring.

During the last year or two Mountaineers' batting has been all too dependent on Masakadza, and this time they never recovered from that loss, although at least they did not collapse. Mustard alone of the top order succeeded, scoring 34 of the first 50 runs, which came up in the seventh over. He made 56 altogether off 31 balls, falling lbw to his fellow English professional Rory Hamilton-Brown. When Prosper Utseya fell the score was 95 for five in the 13th over, not a bad scoring rate but with too many wickets down and too little batting strength in the tail.

Chris Harris held the innings together with a sound unbeaten innings of 34, and at last he found a reliable partner in Shingi Masakadza, who made 23 not out off 18 balls. But there was no major hitter available to take advantage of the death overs, and the final score was 142 for six, good enough at the start of the tournament but small stuff compared with the totals compiled in the last few matches. Hamilton-Brown, with two for 14 off three overs, returned the best figures, while Peter Trego took one for 15 off his four overs.

Dirk Nannes and Shingi Masakadza did their utmost to fight back for Mountaineers in a fine spell of bowling at the start of the Mashonaland Eagles innings. The dangerous Ryan ten Doeschate, after his magnificent century yesterday, today cut a catch to point with only a single to his credit; Trego slashed and was caught at the wicket also for 1. When Hamilton-Brown swung a catch to deep square leg the score was 25 for three in the fifth over and the game was on.

However, the inconsistent Stuart Matsikenyeri was on this occasion batting superbly, apart from a sharp return chance on 20, which the bowler failed to hold. The underrated Forster Mutizwa proved an admirable partner and the two began to turn the match around for Mashonaland Eagles. Mountaineers' other bowlers did not present the same threat as their new-ball pair and run-scoring was easier. The partnership added 44 and looked good enough to complete the job when there was a mix-up over a quick single and Matsikenyeri was run out for 34.

An unfortunate accident saw Mutizwa struck on the shoulder by a hard throw from the field; perhaps affected by this, he popped up a return catch to Utseya off the next ball he faced and was out for 27, leaving Mashonaland Eagles now struggling at 83 for five, required run rate now almost ten. They have more strength in their lower order than Mountaineers do, but Chigumbura (14) holed out at long-on and Andrew Hall was stumped for 2. With seven wickets lost, Regis Chakabva, yet to score, was the only recognized batsman left and 55 runs were needed off less than five overs.

Harris was bowled with great cunning, and Chakabva, struggling to score, got a leading edge to provide a simple return catch; 90 for eight. Mashonaland Eagles seemed to have reached the point of no return - but then Nathan Waller struck out boldly and lofted two successive balls from Harris for sixes. Nannes bowled a bad over to give away 12 runs, but then finished it with a superb yorker to bowl Waller for a gallant 19. The last pair needed to score 28 runs off the final two overs, but Shingi Masakadza needed only one delivery to york Tino Mutombodzi and bring the trophy home to Mountaineers. The Mutare side had performed superbly with the ball to come back, if not quite from the dead, then from the brink of disaster. The bowling honours were well shared, with three wickets to Shingi Masakadza, and two each to Nannes, Harris and Utseya. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 142/6 (20 overs; Mustard 56, Hamilton-Brown 2/14), Eagles 115 (18.1 overs; Matsikenyeri 34, S Masakadza 3/21). Mountaineers win by 27 runs.
[Match report via ZC

[Stanbic T20] Eagles Beat Tuskers to Reach Final

Confidence has been a major and fragile factor in Zimbabwean cricket this season. It has been seen in other competitions, and is now playing a major part in the T20 tournament. Matabeleland Tuskers started their programme in highly confident mode, winning their first three matches easily before slipping up against Mid-West Rhinos - and were never the same team after that. Mashonaland Eagles looked a sad case in their first three matches, but a big victory over a Southern Rocks team in even worse condition suddenly convinced them they could do it - and so they hammered the plummeting Matabeleland Tuskers team to win through to the final against Mountaineers. Their hero was Ryan ten Doeschate, who played the most amazing innings of the tournament when batting right through the innings for 121.

Matabeleland Tuskers won the toss and put Mashonaland Eagles in to bat, perhaps figuring that this was what their opponents would least want. Unfortunately for them, their bowlers seemed to be suffering from nerves, as the first few overs were loose and the batsmen took full advantage of them. Mashonaland Eagles sent in their experienced overseas players, in the form of ten Doeschate and Rory Hamilton-Brown to open the innings, and ten Doeschate in particular took advantage of the loose bowling, hammering 24 runs of his first eleven balls.

With the score 64 without loss after six overs, a light drizzle started, not enough to bother the crowd much, but the umpires were another matter, and they took the players off the field. The crowd quickly grew annoyed, but fortunately only 16 minutes were lost so the incident did not become a public relations disaster. Unfortunately for Matabeleland Tuskers the break did not change the course of the game at all, as the batsmen continued their assault and the bowlers were either innocuous or erratic.

The score reached 89 in the eighth over when Hamilton-Brown was run out for 26. After that the innings was almost all the ten Doeschate Show, as partners came and went with small but generally quick and useful contributions. Mashonaland Eagles failed to reach 200 against Southern Rocks after having it in their sights, but they - or rather ten Doeschate - made sure of it this time. He reached his century off only 50 balls, with two successive sixes, and finished unbeaten on a remarkable 121, off only 58 balls with six fours and eight sixes.

Such a target was virtually impossible for Matabeleland Tuskers - except for the Chris Gayle factor, and possibly Charles Coventry. The confident bowlers showed great accuracy, but Gayle started his assault in the third over, with a six and a four off successive balls from Nathan Waller. Then Kyle Jarvis went for two successive sixes, and the contest was on. If Gayle stayed, Matabeleland Tuskers would win. Not even ten Doeschate could shred a bowling attack as Gayle was doing; the only question was, would he stay for long enough?

Gayle reached 50 off 29 balls, but then, one run and two balls later, the match in effect came to an end. A leading edge gave a gentle return catch to the bowler Peter Trego, and Matabeleland Tuskers were 67 for one. Next ball his partner Tim Smith (13) drove a catch to long-on. Coventry made 13 off 14 balls before lofting a catch to the same position. Matabeleland Tuskers did not give up, but it could only be an exercise in damage limitation now. Steve Trenchard did best, with a fine innings of 56 not out off 31 balls in fading light; overall, in fact, the Matabeleland Tuskers batting was better than that of their victors. The one factor that made the difference was ten Doeschate.

With two overs to go the light became too bad to continue, so the players left the field and the margin of Mashonaland Eagles' victory was calculated to be 34 runs. They are in such superb form now after their dismal start that they must be favourites to beat Mountaineers tomorrow after finishing fourth in the group section. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 207/7 (20 overs; ten Doeschate 121*, Querl 2/25), Tuskers 162/3 (18 overs; Trenchard 56*, Hamilton-Brown 1/20). Mashonaland Eagles win by 23 runs (D/L method)
[Match report via ZC

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Edge Tuskers to Secure Final Spot

Friday afternoon saw the second Stanbic T20 playoff, with a place in the final on offer for the winner. Tuskers have been the form team of the tournament, and had already beaten Mountaineers convincingly in the group stage, so they could be said to have had the advantage from the start. Tuskers won the toss and opted to bat and, led by a pair of blistering innings from Chris Gayle (45 off 34 balls) and Charles Coventry (45 off 26) and a useful contribution from Craig Ervine (23 off 14), the Bulawayo side powered their way to 167/6 from their allotted overs. Prosper Utseya and Shingi Masakadza took a pair apiece for Mountaineers, but their bowlers had a hard time containing Tuskers' scoring, and Tuskers seemed to have the upper hand.

Unlike other teams in the tournament who took a beating while bowling first, though, Mountaineers came out fighting, with opening pair Phil Mustard (44) and Hamilton Masakadza kicking off the innings at over 10/over; Tuskers were eventually able to begin pinning them back, and when Mustard was run out in the 7th the momentum swung the other way for a while - but with Masakadza still at the crease, Moutaineers made sure to keep within touch of the required run rate. Kasuza and Maruma fell, but Hamilton kept at it - a 17-run over in the 17th by him and partner Chris Harris took any pressure out of the remainder of the chase, and the pair eased home with 4 balls to spare.

Mountaineers now go forward to Sunday's final, while Tuskers get a second chance when they meet Eagles in the 3rd playoff match tomorrow afternoon. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 167/6 (20 overs; Gayle 45, Coventry 45, Utseya 2/23), Mountaineers 170/3 (19.2 overs; H Masakadza 80*, Gayle 1/25). Mountaineers win by 7 wickets.

[Stanbic T20] Eagles Soar Through to Next Playoff Round

Eagles met Rhinos in the first playoff match of the Stanbic T20 this morning, with the price of failure being elimination from the tournament. Eagles were put in to bat after Rhinos won the toss, and got off to a storming start as openers Ryan ten Doeschate and Stuart Matsikenyeri put on a 109-run partnership off just 56 balls before ten Doeschate departed for 63; Matsikenyeri went on to score 89. Richard Muzhange led the Rhinos' bowling, taking 3/24 at an economy of 6/over - a rare bright spot in an innings that saw Cremer, Benade and Mugava each smashed around at over 10/over. With the openers having done the hard work, there wasn't much to write home about for the other batsmen - but with Eagles closing on 195/5, it was clear that Rhinos would have their work cut out for them.

Rhinos were under the cosh from then end of the 4th over, when "captain fantastic" Brendan Taylor departed for 24. The Rhinos middle order failed to come to the party, with numbers 3-7 all failing to reach double figures; barring some resistance by Riki Wessels (42) at the top and a short-lived fightback by Simon Mugava (13) and Shaun Tait (26) in the tail, the result would have been complete embarassment for the Rhinos; as it was they were still bowled out for 142, handing Eagles a 53-run win and a place in tomorrow's playoff. Peter Trego led the good work by Eagles' bowlers, taking 4/27. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 195/5 (20 overs; Matsikenyeri 89, Muzhange 3/24). Rhinos 142 (18.2 overs; Wessels 42, Trego 4/27). Mashonaland Eagles win by 53 runs.

[Stanbic T20] Eagles Beat Woeful Rocks, Clinch Final Playoff Berth

The final match in the group stage of the Stanbic T20 saw Eagles meet Rocks, with the prize for the winner being the final slot in tomorrow's playoff stage, where they'd meet Midwest Rhinos. Rocks won the toss and opted to field, while Eagles got off to a horrible start when top-order failures left them on 30/3 in the 7th over. That was when Peter Trego and Elton Chigumbura got stuck in, though - the pair put on 60 for the 4th wicket at over 7/over, while after Trego's departure his replacement Ryan ten Doeschate continued the good work adding another 34 with Chigumbura at over 10/over before he headed back to the pavilion himself. Those two knocks helped see Eagles to a respectable 147/7 at the close of innings, and given Rocks' form in the tournament they would've been confident that that was enough.

And so it proved. Rocks also suffered early losses, but while Eagles dug in and recovered from them, the loss of Kaia and Mutumbami for not much return seemed to knock the stuffing out of Rocks, who gave up the fight and seemed to make no effort to chase the target that had been set for them. A steady procession of wickets followed as Eagles stamped their domination on the match - for the first time this tournament - and bowled Rocks out for a woeful 77 runs in the 17th over. Nathan Waller was the pick of Eagles' bowlers, with 3/8 from 3 overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 147/7 (20 overs; Chigumbura 47, Burger 4/31), Rocks 77 (16.2 overs; Maregwede 15, Waller 3/8). Mashonaland Eagles win by 70 runs.

[Stanbic T20] Rhinos Defeat Fighting Eagles

The sun is finally shining and the players have accustomed themselves to this format of the game, the runs are flowing at Harare Sports Club. In another high-scoring match with a thrilling finish, Mid-West Rhinos just staved off a remarkable batting challenge from Mashonaland Eagles to win by 7 runs. The young Richard Muzhange bowled particularly well at the death to save the match for his team, after brilliant innings from Stuart Matsikenyeri and Peter Trego.

Mashonaland Eagles, who gave the captaincy today to the Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, inevitably decided to field. Brendan Taylor and Riki Wessels made a sound start, moving the score along and taking few chances, bringing the 50 up in the eighth over, although Taylor was missed off a difficult chance on the square-leg boundary. They speeded up, the 100 being reached in the 12th over, both batsmen reaching fifties soon afterwards. Wessels was first to go, at 111, pulling a catch to midwicket for 51 off 44 balls. At the 15-over mark the score was 114 for one, and at this point Taylor skied a catch, out for 54 off 42 balls.

Well as they batted, such a score with only two wickets down and five overs to go was perhaps a little disappointing. Fortunately for Mid-West Rhinos, Gary Ballance was now in and he carried on exactly where he had left off the previous afternoon. With a series of brilliant strokes, especially adept at swinging balls over the midwicket boundary, he tore the bowling apart, being mainly responsible for another 70 runs coming off the last five overs. His share was 53 not out, scored off 25 balls, with two fours and five sixes, a display of hitting even more awesome than that which won the previous match.

Mid-West Rhinos therefore finished with the almost invincible score of 184 for three. Mashonaland Eagles were handicapped at the bowling crease by the loss of Raymond Price, who had to leave the field in the middle of his second over after hurting his hand attempting a difficult return chance. Both wickets fell to Rory Hamilton-Brown (two for 32).

Mashonaland Eagles kept their heads as they replied, the opening pair putting on 27 by sensible cricket in four overs before Hamilton-Brown (19) skied a catch. His partner Matsikenyeri, after a very shaky start against the pace of Shaun Tait, settled in and played some good strokes, aided now by Trego, and after ten overs they had taken the score to 75 for one – exactly 11 an over needed off the remaining ten.

Matsikenyeri reached his fifty off 41 balls, and the 100 came up in the 14th over. Then the batsmen stepped up a gear, and at 15 overs they were pulling back into the game, with 126 on the board; Mid-West Rhinos (pre-Ballance) at this stage had only 114. Tate came back and slowed down the scoring rate until he was taken off after bowling two accidental beamers in an over. Then Matsikenyeri was caught at the wicket trying to scoop a ball from Mike Chinouya, for 73 off 55 balls (four sixes, four fours). Mashonaland Eagles now needed 34 off the final three overs.

Tension mounted as Richard Muzhange bowled a superb over for three runs; 31 now needed off the last two. Chinouya conceded 11, which left 20 runs to be had from the young Muzhange’s final over of the match. Trego hit 2, 2, 6 and 1, when Ryan ten Doeschate was run out attempting a second. Nine were needed from two balls, with Trego facing. He could only manage a single off the first; Elton Chigumbura could not hit the final delivery, and the bowler had kept his head to win the match for his team at the death. The gallant Trego was unbeaten with 71 off 49 balls.

Mid-West Rhinos are deservedly on a high at present after two superb victories under pressure – but they still have some members of their side failing to contribute significantly, and this makes them vulnerable when their top players inevitably have a bad day. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 184/2 (20 overs; Taylor 54, Hamilton-Brown 2/32), Eagles 177/3 (20 overs; Matsikenyeri 71, Mugava 1/33). Midwest Rhinos win by 6 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Maintain Winning Momentum

An impressive all-round performance by Mountaineers gained them a straightforward victory over the struggling Southern Rocks team. The batting was a good team performance, while Shingi Masakadza led the bowling with three cheap wickets. On today’s showing, Mountaineers look to be heading for the final of this tournament.

On another hot sunny day Southern Rocks won the toss and, as always, put Mountaineers in to bat. Phil Mustard gave Mountaineers his usual cracking start, with two powerful boundaries immediately, but Hamilton Masakadza pulled a catch straight to mid-on for 8. Then came a crucial partnership between Mustard (40 off 31 balls) and Kevin Kasuza (27), who added 60 for the second wicket in just over six overs. When Mustard was caught at long-on at the end of the tenth over, the score was a promising 82 for two.

This gave the later batsmen the licence to hit out, and although there were no major partnerships after that, the score was doubled in the last ten overs. The best stand was that of 36 between Kudzai Sauramba, making his T20 debut, and Shingi Masakadza (13 off 10 balls). Sauramba is rather small in stature but he certainly packs a punch, to the extent of scoring 36 not out off 15 balls, including three sixes. He took the total to 166 for six, a daunting task for Southern Rocks. Despite this the bowling was generally steady, with Roy Kaia removing Mustard, Kasuza and Chris Harris for 31 with his gentle slow-medium bowling.

Southern Rocks never looked like challenging, especially after they lost both openers to Shingi Masakadza for 16, using five overs in the process. Jon Kent and Shane Burger fought back with a good partnership, and when Kent was unluckily run out after ten overs, the score was 49 for three. But this required 117 from the last ten overs, a near-impossible task. Burger and Tendai Chisoro added 51 in six overs before Chisoro fell to a brilliant boundary catch by Shingi Masakadza, the total then being 100 in the 16th over.

Burger’s 50 soon followed, off only 34 balls, but even this was not enough to match the merciless required run rate. He eventually fell in the 19th over, caught at backward point for 62 off 43 balls. Shingi Masakadza came back for the final over to take another wicket and finish with the excellent figures of three for 14 off his four overs. Dirk Nannes, with one for 17 off four, also had unusual figures for this form of the game. Southern Rocks could only manage 123 for six, and were far enough behind to earn Mountaineers a bonus point. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 166/6 (20 overs; Mustard 40, Kaia 3/31), Rocks 123/6 (20 overs; Burger 62, S Masakadza 3/14). Mountaineers win by 43 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Blistering Rhinos Break Tuskers Winning Streak

At the halfway stage of this match, after a blistering century from Chris Gayle, it appeared that Matabeleland Tuskers’ ultra-strong overseas contingent had unbalanced the tournament. They seemed on the verge of a fourth large victory out of four.

The tables were turned, however, as magnificent innings from Brendan Taylor (75 not out off 54 balls) and Gary Ballance (67 off 34 balls) put on 105 in nine overs and brought about an amazing victory for Mid-West Rhinos with three balls to spare.

Mid-West Rhinos won the toss and decided to field on a warm, sunny day, the best weather of the tournament so far. It did them no good, however, as although bowling reasonably well they were able to take only one wicket – and the fact that all the batting was done by overseas players serves to emphasize the inordinate effect their batch of overseas players is having on the balance of the tournament. In the second over Tom Smith was brilliantly run out by Edward Rainsford, and this was the only wicket Mid-West Rhinos managed to secure.

The rest of the innings was the Chris Gayle show, with Paul Horton playing a good supporting role. Gayle tore the attack apart at times, although he had periods of devastating hitting and quieter periods where he worked the ball around the field more often. His first great assault was against Rainsford, whom he hit for two sixes in an over. Later Graeme Cremer came under the hammer, three sixes off four balls, the first landing in the television balcony and the third clearing it completely.

Gayle sent up a huge skier over extra cover in the penultimate over, but the fielder seemed to lose sight of the ball and didn’t even attempt a catch. Then, in the final over, he reached his century with a towering six off Richard Muzhange’s fifth ball, and added another six off the final delivery to finish with 109 off 59 balls. He hit seven fours and eight sixes, and the bowlers were helpless against him; the only one to escape severe punishment was the off-spinner Simon Mugava, whose four overs cost 20 runs. Horton finished with 47 not out, and the total 171 for one.

Mid-West Rhinos had an almost impossible target. The experiment of opening with Riki Wessels failed, as he swatted a catch to short extra cover in the third over. Brendan Taylor, knowing his responsibilities, spent 14 balls over his first six runs before swinging a ball from Keegan Meth over midwicket for a big six. Now he went into top gear and found a good partner in Lou Vincent (25). When Vincent went at the end of the tenth over, though, at 62 for two, 110 were still needed off the remaining ten.

Two sixes off three balls from Keith Dabengwa brought up Taylor ’s fifty, off 38 balls. Gary Ballance proved an even better partner, reaching new heights in T20 cricket with a remarkable innings of skill and improvisation. He scored even faster than Taylor , reaching fifty off 28 balls. Such blistering batting left 19 to be scored off the final two overs. With a six from Ballance, before he was caught at mid-on off the final delivery, the 19th over went for 14, needing Taylor to make sure five came off the last over, to be bowled by Gayle. He duly hit the first for four to tie the scores, and pulled the third for another boundary to bring off a remarkable victory. Taylor hit five fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 75, while Ballance’s startling 67 had six fours and four sixes.

The message is clear – Matabeleland Tuskers can be beaten after all. This match has brought the tournament to life. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 171/1 (20 overs; Gayle 109*, Horton 47*), Rhinos 175/3 (19.3 overs; Taylor 75*, Ncube 1/17). Midwest Rhinos win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Thump Eagles

A good battle between Mashonaland Eagles and Mountaineers was rather spoiled by the weather, which worked against Mountaineers after they had made a fine start batting first, and even more so when Mashonaland Eagles chased a reasonable target of 140, which rapidly became a difficult one under the conditions.

Mashonaland Eagles followed the invariable practice of fielding when they won the toss, but Mountaineers this time were well prepared for it and came out in fine spirit. Tino Mawoyo led the charge, swatting the first legitimate delivery of the match, from Elton Chigumbura, over cover for six. He was dropped at slip off Kyle Jarvis in the next over, but ran to 16 off 10 balls before departing. With Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza in, the scoring rate was more than ten an over, and the score was 58 for two in the sixth over when Mustard was brilliantly run out by Jarvis for 22 off 12 balls.

The 100 went up in the 13th over, but shortly afterwards Masakadza was caught at long-off and Mountaineers’ problems began. The light worsened seriously, batting became more difficult and rain caused a break of 23 minutes at 120 for five after 16 overs. Resuming afterwards lost their innings more momentum, and although they tried to hit out in the four overs remaining, they only managed a total of 139 for seven. Nathan Waller, with three for 20, was the most successful bowler.

If batting was difficult for Mountaineers, though, it was by no means easy for Mashonaland Eagles, although the light had improved a little. Dirk Nannes struck two devastating blows with his first two deliveries, trapping Rory Hamilton-Brown lbw and then bowling Peter Trego. Stuart Matsikenyeri, who opened with Hamilton-Brown, hit briefly and boldly for 19, and there followed a useful stand of 32 between Ryan ten Doeschate (18) and Regis Chakabva. When ten Doeschate skied a catch, superbly taken by Shingi Masakadza, the score was 58 for four in the ninth over and Mashonaland Eagles were falling slightly behind. But there were still powerful guns to come in Chigumbura, Forster Mutizwa and Andrew Hall.

Another useful partnership, with Chigumbura, was cut short when Chakabva was lbw for 23, attempting a reverse sweep. The required run rate was now almost 10, and quickly worsened as the batsmen struggled in what was rapidly becoming semi-darkness. At 15 overs 59 were needed in five – but all was not lost as long as Chigumbura and Hall stayed together. But then the rain began again, and the match was over, awarded in favour of the Mountaineers. On the whole this was a fair result. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 139/7 (20/20 overs; H Masakadza 36, Waller 3/20), Eagles 82/6 (15.1/15.1 overs; Chakabva 23, Nannes 2/9). Mountaineers win by 22 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Make in Three in a Row

Matabeleland Tuskers continued their winning streak with a third successive victory, this time at the expense of the hapless Southern Rocks team. After restricting their opponents to 114 off their 20 overs, Matabeleland Tuskers were only nine runs short of victory with nine wickets in hand when rain ended the match and gave them a calculated victory.

The bad luck which has dogged Southern Rocks this season seems to have followed them to Harare. Their first match was rained off when they were in a strong position against Mid-West Rhinos. In this their second match, not having batted yet in the tournament, they lost the toss against Matabeleland Tuskers, who had batted twice, and suffered the disadvantage of being put in to bat.

For four overs they did well, Roy Kaia and Chamu Chibhabha scoring 24 runs together. Then the wheels came off, and stayed off for most of the innings. Both openers and the Kenyan Alex Obanda, who was all at sea against the swing of Keegan Meth, fell in quick succession and the score became 26 for three. After eight overs there were only 29 runs on the board, an almost certain recipe for disaster. The Namibian Shane Burger then hit out briefly, scoring 21 off 20 balls, including a six through the open window of the pressbox.

After Burger was out there was another slump, and when the South African Jon Kent was dismissed at the start of the 18th over the score was 89 for seven. Then the tailenders Hilary Matanga (25 not out) and Tafadzwa Kamungozi (out for 13 off the final delivery of the innings) saved some face for their team with a quick 25 together, so that Southern Rocks reached 114 for eight. There were two wickets each for Meth, Glenn Querl and Tom Smith, all of them cheaply.

When they bowled, Southern Rocks could not have wished for a better start. Chris Gayle, first ball, edged a ball from Brian Vitori that moved away from him and the keeper completed the job, sending him on his way immediately. But it was a false dawn. Well as Vitori bowled, the batsmen Tom Smith and Paul Horton were under no pressure and they were content merely to see him off and then work away at the other bowlers with plenty of time to reach their target. Just after Smith reached his 50, however, a shower of rain arrived and the players had to leave the field with the score at 106 for one. They were unable to return and Matabeleland Tuskers were awarded victory by the deceptive margin of 20 runs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 114/80 (20/20 overs; Matanga 25*, Smith 2/12), Tuskers 106/1 (16.1/16.1 overs; Smith 63*, Vitori 1/10). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 20 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

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