Stanbic Bank 20 Series

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Spirited Tuskers edge Mountaineers

This was a very interesting battle between two possible finalists in the tournament, and on this occasion Matabeleland Tuskers had a little more all-round ability than Mountaineers. They did not begin the match very well, but thanks to the steady Paul Horton (71) they compiled quite a good total. Some good bowling and rather disappointing batting from their rivals, nobody lasting for long, saw Mountaineers slide steadily towards defeat.

Matabeleland Tuskers batted on winning the toss, and their innings followed a fairly common pattern this tournament: an uninspiring start, with wickets falling regularly, only for the later partnerships to pull through for them. Their chief scorer was Horton, the Australian-born Lancashire player, who batted through their innings and was run out for 71 off the last possible ball. He survived the early fall of wickets, which began when Lance Klusener bowled the often devastating Neil Carter for 6 in the second over.
Briefly Charles Coventry threatened to take the match under his control, hammering two sixes and racing to 20 off 10 balls, before he drilled a catch straight at long-off. At the ten-over mark the score was 71 for three. The bowling was generally good, with some fine deliveries, such as the one from Shingi Masakadza that bowled Sean Williams for 7. Tuskers were 103 for five in the 16th over, but rescue came when Keegan Meth joined Horton and the pair hammered another 59 runs together before time ran out. Horton’s 71 came off 56 balls and his steady influence throughout the innings was invaluable. Meth was unbeaten with 33 off 14, his big hitting coming just at the right time.

Tuskers were soon celebrating the dismissal of Hamilton Masakadza in the second over. Masakadza had just driven Chris Mpofu majestically through the covers for four, but the bowler responded with a superb delivery that knocked back his middle and leg stumps. Then Mark Vermeulen skied a catch to mid-off, and both openers were gone for 10. There followed a struggle for runs, but a good stand between Greg Smith and Sean Ervine took the score to 74 for three after 10 overs, slightly better than Tuskers had been. Then both fell in quick succession, Ervine to a superb catch by Williams in the deep off a mistimed pull – this, as it proved, was the turning point of the match. Timycen Maruma played a few powerful strokes, but when he was caught at deep square leg, also by Williams, the score was a dangerous 96 for six after 13 overs.

Prosper Utseya quickly followed, and it looked like a job for Klusener. The required run rate was still just under ten an over, so it was still possible. But the South African unwisely attempted a sweep against a straight ball from John Nyumbu and was bowled for 8 – and so were virtually extinguished Mountaineers’ hopes. Shingi Masakadza did not think so, and in a final burst for glory he hammered 16 (two sixes and a four) off eight balls before perishing at long-off. But Mountaineers were dismissed with more than two overs to spare, four bowlers taking two wickets for fewer than 20 runs, and Tuskers were assured of a place in the final four. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 162/6 (20 overs; Horton 71, S Masakadza 1/20), Mountaineers 136 (17.4 overs; Ervine 33, Dabengwa 2/13). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 26 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Brilliant Butterworth sinks Rhinos

For the second successive match, Ryan Butterworth was the hero. In the closest match of the tournament to date he came to the crease when Mash Eagles had their backs to the ball, and hammered a magnificent unbeaten 52 off just 20 balls (six sixes) to take his team to victory over Mid-West Rhinos with an over to spare. The balance of the match had swung throughout the afternoon, but it was sealed in the end by this superb innings in a crisis.

Mid-West Rhinos won the toss and, as is now usual, decided to bat. For a long time their innings seemed to be going nowhere. Andrew Hall bowled a fine opening spell, removing Lou Vincent in his first over, and wickets fell at regular intervals. The only one of the top order to show much batting form was Brendan Taylor, and he was largely culpable in the run-out of Gary Ballance, whose call for a quick but reasonable single he rejected. At the ten-over mark the score was only 69 for four, but then Taylor speeded up and had made 55 off 37 balls when he himself was run out. This left Rhinos 108 for five after 14 overs.

The Rhinos do bat deep, though. Malcolm Waller played well for 22 in support of Taylor , but the real boost came in an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 51 in four overs between Riki Wessels and Paul Franks. Wessels in particular was dynamic, hammering an unbeaten 33 off 15 balls and finishing the innings with a four and two sixes off the last three balls. Considering their start, the final total of 174 for six was much better than they would have expected. Hall was the best bowler, with three for 32.

Cephas Zhuwawo began the run-chase for Mash Eagles with a bang, hammering a four and two sixes in Ed Rainsford’s opening over, but he skied a catch to third man in the next over. Wickets continued to fall, including that of Andrew Hall (1), who dragged the ball on to his stumps trying to pull a short one from Ian Nicolson. From 26 for three, though, Nick Compton and Regis Chakabva dragged the Eagles back on track with a fighting partnership. After ten overs the score was 83 for three, back on track.

Moments later Compton reached his fifty, off only 31 balls, and was then caught on the extra-cover boundary, and Chakabva soon followed for 23, taken at deep midwicket – and then Ryan ten Doeschate hit the next ball straight to long-on, both these wickets to Taylor. The balance had swung back towards the Rhinos as Eagles reeled at 99 for six. But together now were Butterworth and Forster Mutizwa, the heroes of the previous day. As they settled in and then began to attack, the odds began to favour the Eagles again.

At 150 in the 18th over, though, Mutizwa fatally tried to sweep Graeme Cremer and was bowled for 25. Greg Lamb came in, and 21 were needed from the last two overs. For Butterworth – no problem. He drove Taylor for four sixes off five balls and the match was over with six balls in hand. Taylor had bowled well until now, as had Nicolson and Cremer, but on the day it was Butterworth who emerged triumphant for his team. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 174/6 (20 overs; Taylor 55, Hall 3/32), Eagles 178/7 (19 overs; Butterworth 52*, Taylor 3/38). Mashonaland Eagles win by 3 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Star-Studded Rocks Bounce Back

This was a batsman’s match, and the record-making batsmen from Southern Rocks were able to do the job with more effect than those of the Matabeleland Tuskers. The Rocks set up a new competition record total of 221 for six wickets, due mainly to two devastating innings from Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura, who totally destroyed the Tuskers’ bowling. Try as they did, the Tuskers could find nobody able to match such brutality, but their batsmen went down with honour.

Southern Rocks had the good fortune to win the toss and, considering that the side batting first has won every match in this tournament to date, decided to do that. The slaughter began from the very first ball, the chief executioner being Raza, the Pakistani-born opener who was one of the successes of last year’s T20 but has only just been awarded a place – very successfully – in his franchise’s Logan Cup team. There was a changed batting order, with Brian Lara opening the innings with Raza. It is not often Lara has been overshadowed, but on this occasion he was totally eclipsed, although he did wisely give his partner his head and most of the bowling. When Lara was caught on the long-on boundary for 11, off 11 balls, the total was already 98; Raza had already passed his fifty, which came off only 25 balls.

Chigumbura came in next, a wise choice, as he hit his first ball for six and matched Raza stroke for stroke. Raza fully deserved a century, but he eventually skied a catch into the covers for 93 off 48 balls, in only the 12th over; he hit 11 fours and 5 sixes. Chigumbura also reached a fifty off 25 balls, and his eventual score was 65 off 31 balls, without a single four – but with seven sixes. After these two had gone, the rest of the innings was inevitably an anticlimax, but the 200 came up in the 18th over and the eventual total was 221 for six. In last year’s tournament the highest team total was a mere 190 for two, by Mountaineers against Rocks.

Matabeleland Tuskers’ task was almost impossible, but the two Englishmen opening the innings, Paul Horton and Neil Carter, set about their task in a quieter way than Raza and Chigumbura had done, but no less effectively, putting on 48 in four overs before Horton fell for 20. Soon afterwards Carter went for 30 off 15 balls, and Charles Coventry and Gavin Ewing had to take over. If anybody could challenge the massive Rocks total, Coventry could, and he was soon attacking with great power. After ten overs Tuskers had reached 105 for two, still in the game, and Coventry had 37 off 19 balls. But without adding to this he holed out in the deep, having faced 20 balls and hit a four and 4 sixes.

Realistically, this ended the Tuskers’ hopes. Ewing did his best, with 36 off 26 balls, but there was nobody now left capable of achieving the required rate of 11 an over, and climbing. 74 were needed off the last five overs, but the remaining wickets tumbled as the batsmen attempted the impossible. Cham Chibhabha with four for 32 did most to wrap up the tail, but it was the batting that will long be remembered in this match – not least by the bowlers themselves. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 221/6 (20 overs; Sikandar Raza 93, Carter 2/32), Tuskers 180 (19.3 over; Coventry 37, Chibhabha 4/32). Southern Rocks win by 41 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Eagles Upset Mountaineers to Go Top

Mashonaland Eagles raised their spirits and caused a shock when, after a poor batting performance, they rallied to tumble out the favourites, Mountaineers, for 102 to gain an unexpected victory. They had to thank a fine batting fightback by Ryan Butterworth and Forster Mutizwa, who gave their bowlers something to bowl at, and a fine performance by their bowlers and fielders. Mountaineers, though, will ruefully admit that they had no business to lose chasing a target of only 134.

Eagles decided to bat on winning the toss, having realized that in this tournament to date the team batting first has won every time so far. They were soon deep in trouble. Both openers fell for 16, and then Regis Chakabva, promoted to number three, was run out, leaving the Eagles reeling at 21 for three after 4.1 overs. The bowlers kept the pressure on, and though Ryan ten Doeschate and Greg Lamb made a stand, they were never able to dominate, and after ten overs the score was a meagre 45 for three.

Both fell shortly afterwards, and there seemed little hope of a reasonable total when, after 15 overs, the score was only 78 for five. But Butterworth is always a good man in a tight spot, Mutizwa proved a capable partner, and they set about improving the situation. Butterworth drove a ball from Shingi Masakadza for six and then the recovery began, limited though it only could be with so little time left. They survived the five overs to add 55 in that period, with Butterworth finishing on 41 off 24 balls and Mutizwa with 35 off 22. Thanks to their efforts, Eagles at least reached respectability at 133 for five, although they were still likely to lose unless Mountaineers threw the match away – not impossible, as Mountaineers have a history of over-confidence when facing a small target

Mountaineers too found some difficulty in getting the score moving early on, and signs of impatience kept in. Jonathan Beukes miscued a drive to be caught at mid-off, while Gary Smith holed out in the deep; 36 for two after 8.1 overs. Hamilton Masakadza was still there, batting calmly, while Sean Ervine announced his arrival with a boundary. After ten overs the score was 54 for two, leaving a required run rate of exactly eight an over.

Then Ervine was caught at wicket off Lamb and the Eagles scented possible victory for the first time. This vital wicket was probably the turning of the match. An unwary Timycen Maruma immediately ran himself out, and Lance Klusener joined Masakadza. But the situation only grew worse, as Masakadza mistimed a pull to be caught at midwicket for 29; 58 for five in the 12th over. This now looked like a job for Klusener.

The South African did not look in great touch but he did not panic, playing himself in with care while the required rate rose to 11 an over. He survived a low catch at long-on off Raymond Price, and celebrated with two successive boundaries. After 15 overs the score was 80 for five. Then Andrew Hall produced a yorker that uprooted Klusener’s stumps, and the match was as good as over; he made 22 off 19 balls. Prosper Utseya fought well to make 20, but the tail collapsed like a pack of cards, and Eagles cricket was revived. Lamb with three for 17 returned the best figures and played a vital role with the ball, but all the bowlers did their job well. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 133/5 (20 overs; Butterworth 41*, Mushangwe 1/11), Mountaineers 102 (18.2 overs; H Masakadza 29, Lamb 3/17). Mashonaland Eagles win by 31 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Free Transport, Entrance to T20 Matches for Young Fans

School children from Highfield, Chitungwiza and Mabvuku are in for a special treat during the Stanbic Bank 20 Series tournament that started on Saturday the 13th of November at Harare Sport Club. Thanks to an initiative by the organisers, school children will not only be allowed free entrance to the venue but will also be provided with transport to get there.

"Some of these children are our most loyal fans and really look up to the Masakadza's, Taibu's and Coventry's of this world. It would mean a lot to them to get the chance to see their heroes play alongside Brian Lara or Lance Kluesner. We appreciate the difficulty that some children may face in getting to and from the venue to watch a game of cricket which is why we have availed our bus and hired others to ferry them to and from Harare Sports Club, "said ZC spokesperson, Shingai Rhuhwaya.

Transport has been provided from the 13th of November and will continue to be availed throughout the games which end on the 21st of November. Pick up points in Highfield will be by Chipembere High School, at the Central Junction in Chitungwiza and by Mabvuku Spar in Mabvuku.
[Source: ZC]

Tuskers Seal Victory Over Eagles

Matabeleland Tuskers, making a belated appearance in this tournament, began strongly with a 12-run victory over the hosts, Mashonaland Eagles. The Englishman Neil Carter blazed 49 runs off 29 balls at the start, to give his team an advantage they never really lost. Then a good all-round bowling performance proved too much for Eagles as they chased a daunting target.

Tuskers batted on winning the toss, and could scarcely have got off to a batter start. Carter ripped the opening bowling to shreds, in particular enjoying the bowling of Trevor Garwe, whom he hammered for four fours and two sixes scooped over fine leg in one over; as there were also three wides, this gave a total of 31 runs off that over. His opening partner Paul Horton was then out for 3 – the score now being 53 after 4.3 overs. Carter was finally caught on the long-off boundary for 49, but Charles Coventry carried on his good work, making 23 off 14 balls. After ten overs the score was 97 for three, and a total of 200 looked quite possible.

Around this point, however, Eagles began to pull the game back, unexpectedly through the gentle medium-pace of Ryan Butterworth, who took three wickets for 20 runs off his four overs and quite spoiled the momentum of the Tuskers. Sean Williams (38 not out) and Gavin Ewing (15) fought back by adding 38 in six overs, but this was rather slow going for this point of the innings, and the total only reached 167 for seven, after such a good start. Garwe bowled Keegan Meth with a knee-high full toss off the final ball of the innings and finished with the interesting figures of 2-0-44-1.

Eagles lost their big hitter Cephas Zhuwao to the second ball of the innings, caught near the midwicket boundary, and then Chris Mpofu produced a superb delivery that came back and splayed Forster Mutizwa’s stumps; 10 for two. Grant Flower and Nick Compton fought back and gradually began to get on top of the bowling, helped by a missed chance at mid-off early in their stand. The stand was ended by a brilliant driving catch by Tawanda Mupariwa, off a reverse sweep, that removed Compton for 30. The score was 62 for four in the tenth over, and more than ten an over were now required to win.

As Greg Lamb settled in, the required rate increased to 12, and he was then stumped off Keith Dabengwa for 6; next ball, different over, Flower was also stumped, off Ewing, for 29, and the Eagles were now in need of a miracle. Butterworth (39 not out off 17 balls) and Regis Chakabva (26 off 12) did their utmost to get there when it looked quite impossible, putting on 45 runs in just three overs and a ball, but the task was just too great, although it meant Mash Eagles could lose with honour. The economical spin of Dabengwa and Ewing, who both took two wickets and whose combined seven overs cost only 35 runs, played a vital part in the result. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 167/7 (20 overs; Carter 49, Butterworth 3/20), Eagles 155/9 (20 overs; Butterworth 39*, Ewing 2/13). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 12 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Rhinos Off the Mark as Rocks Languish

Day two of the Stanbic T20, and Midwest Rhinos got off the mark with a win over the Southern Rocks. Batting first after winning the toss, it has to be said that Rhinos' innings wasn't the most convincing - Rikki Wessels' unbeaten 47 was the pick of the bunch, but with a number of batsmen failing to get going - once again including captain Vusi Sibanda (9), whose woeful run of form continues - it had seemed as though the final total of 149/6 would be a fairly easy target for Rocks to chase.

As with yesterday's match, though, Rocks failed to fire with the bat, and this time even Lara (23) couldn't manage a decent knock. Craig Ervine (25*) was the best of a poor bunch, and while a late flurry brought Rocks closer to the target than it had at times looked they would get, they were still 11 runs short when their innings came to an end. Ian Nicolson took 3/18, and Malcolm Waller 3/23, to keep Rocks in check as wickets fell regularly through the innings.

That leaves Rocks rooted to the bottom of the table, while Rhinos go third, level on points with Mountaineers and Eagles but trailing on net run rate. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 149/6 (20 overs; Wessels 47*, Harris 2/11), Rocks 138/9 (20 overs; Ervine 25*, Nicolson 3/18). Midwest Rhinos win by 11 runs.

Rhinos Trampled as Mountaineers Reign Supreme

The second match of the day saw reigning champion Mountaineers take on MidWest Rhinos, and Mountaineers set out to stamp their authority on the tournament right from the start. Batting first after winning the toss, Hamilton Masakadza's unbeaten 96 anchored their innings as the side powered they way to 191/5 from their 20 overs - and it could have been more were it not for a middle-order collapse in the final overs. Graeme Cremer was again best with the ball for Rhinos, taking 3/26.

Rhinos' reply got off to the worst possible start with Brendan Taylor falling for a first-ball duck; Lou Vincent (3) and Vusi Sibanda (6) didn't hang around long either, and that poor beginning left Rhinos well behind the curve right from the start. They never looking likely to win, and with wickets falling regularly throughout it was only ever a question of whether they'd be bowled out or at least see out their innings. Some resistance came from Solomon Mire (31), Malcolm Waller (31) and Riki Wessels (45*), but by the time they set off their fireworks the match was already dead. Tinashe Panyangara took 3/24 to lead Mountaineers' bowling figures, as they secured a 35-run win and top place in the tournament table at the end of round one. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 191/5 (20 overs; H Masakadza 96*, Cremer 3/26), Rhinos 156/9 (20 overs; Wessels 45*, Panyangara 3/24). Mountaineers win by 35 runs.

Eagles Crush Rocks in Stanbic T20 Opener

The 2010 edition of the Stanbic Zimbabwe T20 got underway at Harare Sports Club this morning, with Mashonaland Eagles claiming first blood in the tourney with a 28-run win over Southern Rocks. Rocks won the toss and put Eagles in to bat, and it was their #2 Nick Compton who did the heavy lifting for his side, scoring 70 off 59 balls as Eagles worked their way to 174/8 from their 20 overs - a score that mid-innings had looked unlikely, after some middle-order wobbles. Grant Flower's return to domestic cricket, as Eagles' captain, wasn't particularly triumphant as he was out for just 2. Chamu Chibhabha took 3/27 for Rocks.

Rocks are usually a half-decent batting side and, bolstered by the arrival of one Brian Lara, would have fancied their chances of a successful chase. Lara proved his use to the side by top-scoring with 65 off 47 balls, but his departure at 133/3 triggered a catastrophic collapse for the Rocks - eight of their eleven batsmen failed to reach double figures, and from 133/3 they fell to 146 all out, handing Eagles an easy win. Trevor Garwe took 4/28, with Andrew Hall adding 3/20.

Full scorecard below the cut. Next match: Rhinos v Mountaineers, this afternoon.
Eagles 174/8 (20 overs; Compton 70, Chibhabha 3/27), Rocks 146 (19.2 overs; Lara 65, Garwe 4/28). Mashonaland Eagles win by 28 runs.

Stanbic Twenty20 Fixtures Released

The fixture list for this year's Stanbic Twenty20 has been released:

13 November 2010	Midwest Rhinos v Southern Rocks			10:00
			Matabeleland Tuskers v Mashonaland Eagles	14:00
14 November 2010	Southern Rocks v Mashonaland Eagles		10:00
			Mountaineers v Midwest Rhinos			14:00
16 November 2010	Mountaineers v Mashonaland eagles		14:00
17 November 2010	Southern Rocks v Matabaleland Tuskers		10:00
			Midwest Rhinos v Mashonaland Eagles		14:00
18 November 2010	Mountaineers v Matabeleland Tuskers		14:00
19 November 2010	Mountaineers v Southern Rocks			10:00
			Midwest Rhinos v Matabeleland Tuskers		14:00
20 November 2010	SF1: 1st vs 4th					10:00
			SF2: 2nd vs 3rd					14:00
21 November 2010	Play-off (Losers SF1 & SF2)			10:00
			Final						14:00

No Desert Vipers this year, which is a disappointment, but it seems that a decent lineup of big name players have been lured by the mighty ZC dollar again this year, so it should be a good spectacle. Word from ZC last year what that this edition would be played in Bulawayo - not so, as all matches will be at Harare Sports Club - while all matches appear to be daytime games.

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