Stanbic Bank 20 Series

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[Stanbic T20] Rhinos v Rocks Rained Off

Another poor batting performance by Mid-West Rhinos batting first left them with a small total to defend against Southern Rocks, but they were saved by the rain, which came on between innings and put an end to the match. The Masvingo team were very disappointed to be denied a likely victory by the weather after a good performance in the field.

Southern Rocks won the toss and followed the virtually obligatory custom of putting the opposition in to bat. Brendan Taylor and Gary Ballance made a fair start but, just as Taylor (11) was getting going he turned a ball from Brian Vitori, back at last after injury, to midwicket and was out when the score was 20. Riki Wessels looked the biggest danger to Southern Rocks as from the start he laid about him with a will, while Ballance played very much second fiddle. Ballance had scored 8 out of 48, having had little of the strike, when he felt obliged to get moving, but was caught by the keeper off a skier.

The most crucial moment came when Wessels, with 34 off 29 balls, threw his wicket away, trying an unnecessary reverse sweep and sending an easy catch; he walked off furious with himself. After this the Mid-West Rhinos innings went into steady decline, although Malcolm Waller (18) and Graeme Cremer (23) began well but failed to finish. The final total was only 131 for seven, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi (two for 17) and Shane Burger (two for 14) returning good figures off their four overs each.

Minutes after the players left the field, the rain started, and soon was so heavy as to make it obvious further play was impossible. Southern Rocks had good reason to feel aggrieved; a victory for them was not assured, but the odds were perhaps better than two to one in their favour. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 131/7 (20 overs; Wessels 34, Burger 2/15), Rocks did not bat. No result - rain.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Make it Two in a Row

The first match of the second day held particular interest as it was contested by the two winning teams of the first day, both teams well capable of winning the tournament. Matabeleland Tuskers won the day, with the former West Indian captain Chris Gayle turning in a star performance to make 61 with the bat and then take four wickets for just 22 runs with the ball. Paul Horton, Craig Ervine, Keegan Meth and Keith Dabengwa also had good mornings as the Bulawayo team triumphed.

Mountaineers won the toss and, as usual, put the opposition in to bat. Matabeleland Tuskers, however, had a cunning plan to counter the tendency of inexperienced local players to collapse when batting first through inability to pace the innings: they sent their experienced overseas players in first. Tom Smith quickly fell, caught behind off the glove off a lifting ball from Dirk Nannes, but then Gayle and Horton shared a fine partnership of 95.

Gayle in particular dominated, although for most of his innings he did not appear to do so, as he just kept the score ticking over regularly through his skill and experience. He had a lucky escape on 18, when he sliced a ball that lobbed gently over point, just out of reach of three fielders running for it. Later he started to open up, hitting Mushangwe for two sixes in an over, including the biggest of the day, straight over the media centre. His 50 came off 33 balls, and when he was finally caught on the midwicket boundary off the deceptive bowling of Chris Harris he had made 61 off 38 balls, including three fours and five sixes. The score was 98 for two after 13 overs.

Horton soon followed for 32, also diddled out by Harris, and Charles Coventry (17) and Ervine (30 not out) took over with some aggressive batting. Ervine for once outshone his partner and hit three sixes, facing only 15 balls. The final total was an impressive 161 for four, although Mountaineers certainly had the batting to challenge this. Harris was the most successful bowler, with two for 21 off his four overs, while Nannes also bowled very well with two for 29.

It promised to be a good finish. Meth quickly struck for Matabeleland Tuskers, having Tino Mawoyo caught at midwicket for 1 off the third ball of the innings, but then came a crucial stand between Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza. They put on 49 in six overs, and Masakadza gave Gayle some of his own treatment, swinging the ball for a huge six over midwicket when the West Indian came on to bowl. But not much else could be done against Gayle. He broke the stand by having Mustard caught at long-on for 15, though there was most credit here to a superb leaping one-handed catch by Meth. Keith Dabengwa took the crucial wicket of Masakadza, stumped for 45 off 34 balls; and the score was 80 for three at the start of the eleventh over, as well balanced as could be.

The 100 came up in the 13th over, but then Gayle struck a double blow that proved to be crucial. He removed Kevin Kasuza for 24 and Shingi Masakadza next ball, leaving Mountaineers at 103 for five and suddenly struggling. 54 runs were needed off the last five overs, and then Ted Eckersley fell right into Gayle’s trap, swinging a shortish ball straight to deep midwicket. Chris Harris (19) fell to a fine return catch by Dabengwa off a powerful drive and, with the situation now next to impossible, the last few batsmen slogged and perished. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 161/4 (20 overs; Gayle 61, Harris 2/21), Mountaineers 142/9 (20 overs; H Masakadza 45, Gayle 4/22). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 18 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

[Stanbic T20] Tuskers Trample Eagles

The second match of Day One saw Chris Gayle's arrival on the scene - possibly the most-anticipated appearance of the tournament, but when Tuskers opted to field after winning the toss, Tuskers fans had to wait a little longer to see him in action. Eagles had a disappointing innings, reaching 120/8 for their allotted overs as a stead stream of wickets throughout the innings kept their scoring in check, with Njabulo Ncube (3/27) and Keegan Meth (2/15) both having good spells. Elton Chigumbura top-scored for Eagles with 26, with Andrew Hall (22) and Forster Mutizwa (21) both also chipping in, but as in the first game there were more single-digit scores on the card that double-digit ones.

No such problems for Tuskers, who raced to the target for the loss of 3 wickets, and quickly enough - within 16 overs - to secure a bonus point that puts them on top of the tournament table. There were no fireworks from Chris Gayle on this occasion - 1 wicket and just 10 runs - but Charles Coventry, batting 5th, put on a hell of a show, smashing an unbeaten 44 from just 26 balls, including 2 fours and 4 sixes, to help see his side home. For Eagles, Chigumbura, Trego and Price claimed a wicket apiece in the losing cause. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 120/8 (20 overs; Chigumbura 26, Ncube 3/27), Tuskers 123/3 (16 overs; Coventry 44*, Chigumbura 1/15). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 7 wickets.

[Stanbic T20] Mountaineers Off to a Winning Start

Rhinos looked to have the stronger batting lineup on paper but, put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, they didn't live up to their potential. In-form Gary Ballance lasted just 4 balls before departing for a single run, and while Brendan Taylor (37) and Riki Wessels (31) put on a good 53-run partnership for the 2nd over, that was pretty much it as far as Rhinos were concerned - no other batsmen reached double-figures, as Rhinos limped their way to 115/9. Natsai Mushangwe (3/19), Prosper Utseya (2/20) and Shingi Masakadza (2/27) did most of the damage. The target, 116 at 5.8/over, didn't exactly look hard to get.

And so it proved. While Mountaineers suffered a few setbacks along the way, the combined efforts of Hamilton Masakadza (34) and Chris Harris (39*) guided their side home with 7 balls to spare. Rhinos weren't able to contain the run rate enough to really put pressure on Mountaineers, and it told in the end. After a horrible start to the domestic season, Mountaineers seem to have found their form at just the right time, and are off to a winning start. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 115/9 (20 overs; Taylor 37, Mushangwe 3/19), Mountaineers 116/4 (18.5 overs; Harris 39*, Cremer 1/12). Mountaineers win by 6 wickets.

Eagles Crowned Stanbic 20 Series Champions

The huge crowd at Harare Sports Club had a thrilling final to applaud, as in a match that swung one way and then the other, with the result in doubt until the final ball. The hero in the end was Andrew Hall, who followed a fine innings with some superb death bowling that proved too much for Rhinos, who at one stage had been cruising to victory. A couple of careless strokes and some panic threw away a good advantage and they were left to rue the fallibilities of mind that cost them the trophy. Commendably the Mashonaland Eagles had a phenomenal return from what seemed to be their second Stanbic Bank 20 series final without any silverware.

Eagles had the good fortune to win the toss and were therefore able to bat first in good conditions. Rhinos started well, having the big-hitting Cephas Zhuwawo very well caught by deep square leg Gary Ballance for 1 in the first over, but then came the crucial partnership of 85 between Nick Compton and Prince Masvaure. They wisely played themselves in and then began to attack; at ten overs the score was 68 for one, about par for the course in this tournament. Shortly afterwards Compton reached his fifty off 43 balls. Masvaure was finally caught off a lofted drive for 32 off 30 balls, a fine effort by a player who has not had much success recently but was still entrusted with the number three position.

This began a minor collapse that swung the balance temporarily in favour of Rhinos. There was some fine catching, and then came the run-out of Compton, which could have proved fatal to Eagles. He had a mix-up with Forster Mutizwa, both batsmen finishing at the same end, and it appeared to be Compton's fault. As he had been batting so well, it would have been a sporting gesture had Mutizwa run through and sacrificed himself for the good of his team, but he declined. Compton departed for 74 off 55 balls (4 fours, 3 sixes), and his team were now in some trouble at 116 for six in the 17th over.

Typically, Hall came to the rescue. He kept the score moving and then, off the final poor over of the innings from Paul Franks - who did at least finish with two dot balls - hit 22 runs, not counting a no-ball. Was this to be the over that cost Rhinos the match? Hall finished with 39 not out off 17 balls. This enabled Eagles to finish with 167 for seven, not an impossible target but one which gave Eagles the advantage, especially considering the tension of a final. Malcolm Waller took two wickets, while Ed Rainsford and Brendan Taylor were the most economical bowlers.

In front of a crowd probably similar in number to the previous season's seven to eight thousand, Rhinos made a confident start. Taylor produced most of the early strokeplay, as usual, until he chipped a fairly simple catch to mid-on and departed for 27 off 16 balls. Gary Ballance continued the job with Sibanda until he was run out for 20 by a good throw from Masvaure; 60 for two after seven overs.

This brought together the two heroes of the semi-final, Sibanda and Vincent, and from the start they looked totally confident of taking their team home to victory. Sibanda in particular appeared to be right back in his best form, batting with class and assurance, making the bowling look easy. After ten overs the score was 90 for two, well ahead of the 68 Eagles had produced at a similar stage. But having looked so good, Sibanda threw his wicket away to a catch on the midwicket boundary for 46, scored off 30 balls. Rhinos were now 122 for three in the 15th over, and the stand had realized 62 in just over seven overs. Little did Rhinos know it, but this was the turning point of the match.

Once again, though, an unnecessary wicket led to a collapse. Solomon Mire was bowled for 3, heaving at a ball from Raymond Price, and then Rikki Wessels ran himself out first ball. With five down, 29 were needed off the last three overs - Hall to bowl two of them; the odds favoured Eagles again. Vincent was now the key man for Rhinos, but he drove a hard low catch to long-off and was gone for 39. However Waller batted superbly in this crisis, leaving seven to win off Hall's final over, with three wickets left. It was just too much, and Rhinos in the end lost by one run a match they should have won. Hall finished with figures of none for 27; only T20 cricket can produce such an anomaly for the bowler who won the match. Waller, with 20 not out off 10 balls, deserved better, but the fault lay further up the order. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 167/7 (20 overs; Compton 74, Waller 2/23), Rhinos 166/6 (20 overs; Sibanda 46, Price 1/22). Mashonaland Eagles win by 1 run.
[Match report via ZC]

Tuskers Settle for Third Place

A superb unbroken second-wicket partnership of 126 between Paul Horton and Charles Coventry took Matabeleland Tuskers to an easy ninth-wicket victory over Southern Rocks in the third-place T20 play-off.
A batting collapse left Rocks with only an average total, and their weak bowling attack was quite unable to stem the flow of runs from two in-form batsmen.

Again overnight rain and a cloudy sky may have influenced Tuskers to put Rocks in to bat on winning the toss, but the sky soon cleared and conditions did not favour the ball as they had the previous morning.

For once Rocks’ danger man Sikander Raza did not come off, as he miscued a pull and was caught on the midwicket boundary for 2 in the second over. This brought in Tatenda Taibu, who was in brilliant form from the first ball. At his best he combines an excellent mix of quick running and powerful hitting, packing a mighty punch for a man with a light frame. He shared a partnership of 73 with Stuart Matsikenyeri, who is still out of form but did his best until he was run out for 23.

After ten overs the total was 77 for two, of which Taibu had 48. The 100 came up in the 13th over, at which point Taibu swung across the line to a yorker from the medium-paced Brad Staddon and was bowled for 60. He faced 37 balls, hitting 5 fours and 2 sixes.

This started a collapse from which Rocks never properly recovered. Without addition Elton Chigumbura was brilliantly caught one-handed by Charles Coventry on the long-off boundary, and six wickets fell for 32 runs in six overs. The New Zealander Chris Harris came in ridiculously low at number 10 – there are few better men for stemming a collapse – and he showed what he might have done by hitting 13 runs off four balls before the 20 overs were up. 154 for eight was an average total that might have been considerably better, and bad news for Rocks, whose bowling is their weak point. Keegan Meth and Staddon bowled well for two wickets each, while Keith Dabengwa bowled three overs for a wicket and only 11 runs.

Tuskers always batted as though they had time in hand. Neil Carter made must of the opening shots, but he was out for 20 off 15 balls, to a brilliant diving catch in the deep by Taurai Chitongo. The score was 32 for one in 4.1 overs. Then Coventry joined Paul Horton and decided he could play a less frenetic innings than he has been doing recently. He showed better shot selection and a greater willingness to work the ball around the field rather than simply aim for boundary shots, and the experienced Horton was the ideal partner for this game. At ten overs the total was 69 for one, and it was only after the 100 came up in the 13th over that Coventry felt he was not licensed to attack. The boundaries started to flow in his usual style, Horton began to join in, and 22 runs came off an over from Chigumbura. Horton was first to his 50, off 51 balls, and in the same over from Chitongo Coventry reached his off 33 balls with his third six. Another four from Coventry brought an easy victory in the penultimate over: he finished with 67 off 40 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) and Horton 56 off 55. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 154/8 (20 overs; Taibu 60, Staddon 2/24), Tuskers 158/1 (18.2 overs; Coventry 67*, Chigumbura 1/42). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Sibanda and Vincent Cruise Rhinos to the Finals

After the thrills of the low-scoring semi-final in the morning, the afternoon brought a less exciting match for the second finalist, but one much more spectacular in the way of strokeplay. Brilliant batting by Vusi Sibanda and Lou Vincent in a third-wicket partnership of 139 runs took Mid-West Rhinos into the final against Mash Eagles with ease, leaving Southern Rocks to play Matabeleland Tuskers for third place the following morning.

Southern Rocks won the toss and took the usual course of batting; the sun was out and the conditions had dried since the drama of the morning’s match. Sikander Raza again gave the Rocks a cracking start, although for a briefer time than usual; with 13 off 11 balls, including three fours, he sent up a skyer to mid-on. Tatenda Taibu came in next, rather than Elton Chigumbura, and the rest of the innings was the story of his batting, with a series of partners who generally did not last long.

Southern Rocks now have a batting order full of star-studded names, all internationals apart from Sikander Raza, who has been the most consistent and spectacular of all this tournament. But in this innings none of them lasted long with Taibu until Steve Tikolo came in, and immediately launched into some brilliant strokes. Rarely has he played like this in a T20 match, as he raced to 27 off 13 balls before being run out. Taibu was out for 57, caught in the deep in the final over, off 51 balls. The final total was 151 for eight, an average score in this tournament, but less than Rocks’ potential or many past performances. There was a feeling it might not be enough, with their limited bowling attack – as long as the Rhinos kept their nerve. Of the Mid-West Rhinos bowling, Brendan Taylor’s two for 17 off his four overs was most effective.

Mid-West Rhinos did not make a good start, and before the end of the third over they had lost both openers for 13 runs. Gary Ballance (1)fell to a brilliant reflex catch by Chris Harris in the gully, while Taylor was caught by the keeper off a fine glance down the leg side for 7. Sibanda, who has had little luck recently, settled in with Vincent and the two set about the recovery. At first they batted cautiously, apart from a pull for six by Sibanda almost immediately he came in, and with a total of 53 for two at the ten-over mark the required run rate was almost exactly ten an over; if they lost a couple of wickets, they would be in trouble.

But the gamble paid off, and they now began to attack the bowling brilliantly. Sibanda took the lead, reaching his fifty off 39 balls and clearing the boundary with ease at times. Vincent took 44 balls for his fifty, but then sailed past Sibanda in the fifties and hit a gigantic six high over the media centre. Sibanda almost equalled this by hitting another delivery on to the roof of the building at the city end of the ground, and so dominant were the batsmen that Mid-West Rhinos raced to victory with nine balls in hand. 92 runs came off the last 7½ overs; Sibanda finished with 60 off 44 balls and Vincent 75 off 55. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 151/8 (20 overs; Taibu 57, Taylor 2/17), Rhinos 152/2 (18.3 overs; Vincent 75*, Chinouya 1/26). Midwest Rhinos win by 8 wickets
[Match report via ZC]

Eagles Through to the Finals

It was ironic that, in a T20 tournament, the most exciting match should have been that with the lowest scores. What at one stage appeared to be a virtual walkover for Mash Eagles ended in a cliff-hanger, as both teams batted poorly on a moist pitch.

Matabeleland Tuskers seemed to have thrown it away when they crumbled for 70, but a superb fightback by the Tuskers seamers, in particular Chris Mpofu and Keegan Meth, shattered the Eagles’ batting, and it took a nail-biting last-wicket partnership between Raymond Price and Douglas Hondo to scramble together the last seven runs for victory.

Overnight rain had dampened the pitch and Mash Eagles had good reason to put the Tuskers in to bat; in fact, the pitch always looked difficult to score runs on. The Tuskers, however, brought about their own destruction. Paul Horton hit a boundary and then hit a hard catch straight at cover. Charles Coventry slashed at his first ball and skied a catch to backward point, and the score was 7 for two in the second over. Gavin Ewing couldn’t get going at all and faced ten balls without scoring, before lofting a catch to deep cover. There seemed to be no plan to work the ball around the field to keep the score moving in difficult conditions.

Then followed some inexplicable cricket by the two English professionals, Neil Carter and Adam Wheater, men who should know that T20 cricket allows no time to dig in and graft. Incredibly, after ten overs the score was a mere 32 for three, with these two sharing a stand of 28 in almost eight overs. Wheater was finally run out for 13 off 24 balls, while Carter fell later in the same way for 25 off 33 balls; incredibly he was the fastest scorer of the innings – except for last man Njabulo Ncube, 2 off two balls. The final total of 70 did them little credit. Andrew Hall and Hondo took three cheap wickets apiece but, well as they bowled, they were very flattered.

To give them their due, the Tuskers came out fighting hard with their bowling and fielding, and Mash Eagles likewise seemed to have little idea or plan of how best to score runs; perhaps facing such a small target they did not feel they needed one. In fact, their batsmen had less excuse than the Tuskers, as they were under less pressure to score quickly. In the fifth over Eagles were 11 for four, all to catches from miscued attacking strokes. Mpofu and Meth bowled superbly, but again the batsmen were culpable. Tuskers wisely bowled these two out, and Mpofu should have made a further breakthrough in his final over as Ryan ten Doeschate on 4 edged a catch straight to first slip, and it went down. This was to prove crucial. After the eight overs by the opening bowlers Eagles were 19 for four, and it was now the duty of the other bowlers to continue the good work. Both bowlers took two wickets for only 9 runs.

Tawanda Mupariwa and Ncube both responded well, and four overs later each had taken a wicket, including that of Ryan Butterworth, hero of Eagles’ two previous matches, lbw to Mupariwa for 8. At 36 for six, Eagles themselves were now in trouble. Andrew Hall now marched in, determined to restore sanity. His confidence rubbed off on ten Doeschate, and in no time runs were flowing as normal. Just as Eagles seemed set to win, Ten Doeschate, after another life at slip, fell for 26, and Greg Lamb was brilliantly run out by Ncube; 57 for eight in the 16th over. With seven runs to go came the vital blow, Hall caught at the wicket off Ncube, and the last pair of Price and Hondo came together. Amid great tension the runs all came in singles until Price slashed a ball from Mupariwa over the slips for the winning boundary amid tremendous excitement. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 70 (19.2 overs; Carter 25, Hall 3/12), Eagles 74/9 (18.3 overs; ten Doeschate 26, Mpofu 2/9, Meth 2/9). Mashonaland Eagles win by 1 wicket.
[Match report via ZC]

Rhinos Stun Tuskers & Eliminate Mountaineers

In a remarkable match, Mid-West Rhinos climbed out of the grave and won a place in the finals at the expense of Mountaineers when they narrowly beat Matabeleland Tuskers in a rain-affected match. The Bulawayo team looked certain to win after a disappointing batting performance by the Rhinos, but the rain came at the wrong time for them. It appeared the over-confidence brought about their downfall, as some careless strokes cost vital wickets, Graeme Cremer took full advantage with four vital wickets, and the Tuskers’ batting collapsed in dismal fashion.

Mid-West Rhinos as usual batted on winning the toss, and Brendan Taylor got them off to a dynamic start. He scored most of the runs and when his partner, Gary Ballance (8), was bowled by a slow yorker from Chris Mpofu after five overs, the score was 39 for one. Vusi Sibanda’s bad luck continued, as he was run out for 3, but soon afterwards Taylor reached his fifty off 33 balls. Lou Vincent swung two successive deliveries from John Nyumbu for six, but the wily off-spinner immediately had his revenge, trapping him lbw next ball.
This began a steady slide of wickets that never stopped. Taylor was out for 61 off 45 balls, bowled swinging across the line to the medium-pace of Brad Staddon, and none of the other batsmen reached 20. It was a disappointing batting display, and Staddon finished with the remarkable but rather flattering figures of four for 17. Rhinos were dismissed for 148 with a ball in hand, giving Tuskers an excellent chance of becoming only the second team in this tournament to chase a target successfully.

Ed Rainsford quickly struck back with the ball for the Rhinos, trapping Neil Carter lbw in the first over of the Tuskers’ innings. He almost had Charles Coventry caught from a miscued pull, but the ball fell between the fielders, and Coventry then set about demolishing the attack. Paul Horton wisely played his usual steady game and made sure his aggressive partner had most of the strike. Soon, though, a light rain began falling and the light worsened; eventually, after 5.2 overs with the score at 43 for one, the players gave up the unequal struggle and left the field.

After nearly an hour’s break, the rain finally stopped and the players took the field again, the new target being 110 in 14 overs. Coventry promptly hit two fours and a six off the four remaining balls of Rainsford’s over, but then degenerated into slogging and was caught in the deep off Paul Franks for 41 off 26 balls. Then came another blow, as Paul Horton was run out attempting a second run, and the score was now 62 for three. Stephen Trenchard was lbw, and after ten overs the score was 78 for four; another 32 needed off four overs.

Then Cremer stepped in, dismissing Keith Dabengwa and Keegan Meth with successive deliveries; 83 for six. A single later Brad Staddon was run out, and suddenly the match had swung completely and the Rhinos were favourites to win. Adam Wheater was the Tuskers’ only specialist batsman left, and when he holed out on the midwicket boundary with the score on 92, they were as good as dead. The tail collapsed like a pack of cards and Rhinos were back from the dead, Cremer taking four wickets for 17 runs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 148 (19.5/20 overs; Taylor 61, Staddon 4/17), Tuskers 94 (13.2/14 overs; target 110; Coventry 41, Cremer 4/17). Midwest Rhinos win by 15 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]

Mountaineers bow to the Rocks

Brilliant batting displays from Sikander Raza and Elton Chigumbura paved the way for a very convincing victory by Southern Rocks over Mountaineers by 23 runs. Both made devastating fifties, and the reigning champions never looked like challenging the Rocks’ total of 198. The final overs were brightened by some mighty blows from Lance Klusener, but the top order had failed so badly that even his brutal fifty could only narrow the margin of defeat.

Southern Rocks batted on winning the toss, which has become standard practice in this tournament. Once again Raza gave his team a flying start, this time in company with Cham Chibhabha, and they raced to 47 off five overs before Chibhabha was caught on the midwicket boundary for 18. Raza ran to his fifty off 28 balls before he holed out at mid-on for 54, which included 8 fours and a six. The score was now 86 for two in ten overs.
Briefly now Mountaineers fought back, and fine fielding brought about the run-outs of
Craig Ervine and Brendan Taylor cheaply; 108 for four in the 14th over. But Chigumbura, again coming in at three, was still there, and with Tendai Chisoro as his new partner he led a brutal assault on the bowling. The pair added 51 in four overs, and one six followed another as they went in for big hitting. Chisoro hit two of them in his 24, while Chigumbura caught in the deep in the final over, scored 71 off 45 balls, with three fours and five sixes. The international bowlers Sean Ervine and Lance Klusener took the worst of the onslaught, although they did in the end get the wickets, two to Klusener. Shingi Masakadza and Netsai Mushangwe, although under less pressure, did a good job in conceding less than seven runs per over.

Mountaineers now had a mountain to climb, 199 to win. Tino Mawoyo, ill-advisedly kept out of the team until now by the presence of more overseas players, gave them a dashing start with 22 off 17 balls, including two sixes and two fours. Then Mountaineers suffered a serious blow as Hamilton Masakadza was given out, rather controversially, by the third umpire for 15; 48 for two after six overs. The situation worsened as Timycen Maruma holed out for 5 from a skyer, and after 10 overs the score was 71 for three.

Victory was still just a possibility at this stage, although the asking rate was more than 12, but a tremendous assault was required, and this did not happen. Mark Vermeulen played some good shots in his 30, off 31 balls, but in such circumstances even more than this was necessary, and Mountaineers slid steadily further behind the required run rate. When Ervine arrived at the crease they needed 16 an over, which had grown to 18 when Klusener joined him. It was an impossible task even for such mighty warriors, although Klusener might have made a challenge had he come in earlier. He hit Chigumbura for three sixes in the penultimate over and Raza for another three in the last; seven sixes altogether in 56 not out, made off only 18 balls. But his team now have to wait for the final match in the afternoon to see if they, who won the tournament last season, or Mid-West Rhinos will be eliminated from the finals. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 198/6 (20 overs; Chigumbura 71, Klusener 2/41), Mountaineers 175/7 (20 overs; Klusener 52*, Kamungozi 2/22). Southern rocks win by 23 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

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