Stanbic Bank 20 Series

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Rocks Sign Lara, Sidebottom; Sean Ervine Heads for Mountaineers

CricInfo reports that Southern Rocks have signed former West Indies great Brian Lara and English paceman Ryan Sidebottom for the forthcoming Stanbic T20 tournament, which gets underway on November 13th. Lara's interest in Zim's domestic T20 was trialled when he visited the country to present the annual ZC awards at the beginning of the season, but now the mystery of who he would sign for has been answered. Hopefully he'll do better for Rocks than he did for Mumbai Champs, the ICL franchise side he captained for a season.

Sean Ervine, meanwhile, will also be returning for the T20 tournament, but this year is moving from Rocks to Mountaineers.

UPDATE: Yorkshire have refused to release Sidebottom for the tournament. He's been replaced in the Rocks side by Chris Harris.
CricInfo - Rocks sign Lara, Sidebottom for T20

Lara in Discussions to Play in Domestic Twenty20 Competition

Brian Lara is apparently in discussions to join one of the local franchise sides for the upcoming Twenty20 competition, according to the Zimbabwe Independent. Lara himself commented during his recent visit that:

"The season is long, discussions are taking place, let us wait and see. You might see me coming back here."

...while ZC MD Ozias Bvute has spoken of both playing and coaching roles for the former West Indies star. I think it's safe to say that the five franchises will be falling over themselves to get his name on their squad list...
Zimbabwe Independent - Lara set to play in Zimbabwe

Mountaineers Claim Title After Thrashing Eagles

Yesterday, Eagles thrashed Mountaineers in the final round of group matches - today, in the Stanbic T20 final, Mountaineers turned the tables and gave Eagles a taste of their own medicine to claim the title after a highly entertaining tournament. Mountaineers won the toss and put Eagles in to bat, and the home side were simply unable to really get going as wickets fell regularly, with no-one able to form a foundation for the innings. Elton Chigumbura's 20 was the best of the bunch, as Eagles were removed for 105 in the 19th over. Greg Smith took 3/11 to lead the bowling figures for Mountaineers. In reply, Mountaineers were never in any trouble - Smith (1) was the only wicket to fall, with the score on 8, after which Hamilton Masakadza (64*) and Tatenda Taibu (37*) knocked off the required runs wit little fuss, reaching the target with 15 balls to spare. Masakadza was subsequently named Player of the Series and Batsman of the Series, with Vipers' Tony Palladino being named Bowler of the Series. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 105 (18.4 overs; Chigumbura 20, Smith 3/11), Mountaineers 106/1 (17.3 overs; H Masakadza 64*, Hondo 1/19). Mountaineers win by 9 wickets.

Vipers Claim Third Place With Easy Win Over Tuskers

Essentially settling the tournament's only abandoned match, the 3rd-place playoff was a simple affair for the Desert Vipers, who claimed a 35-run victory over the Bulawayo side in the first of today's matches. Batting first after winning the toss, Vipers amassed a less-than-impressive 126/7 from their 20 overs. Raymond van Schoor (46) and Dwaine Pretorius (36) accounted for most of Vipers' total, with the rest of the side failing to manage significant contributions. Where they were poor, though, Tuskers were woeful, with 8 of their side failing to reach double figures and only Tawanda Mupariwa (31) at 9th putting up significant resistance as the side were bowled out for 91. A disappointing end to the tourney for Tuskers. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 126/7 (20 overs; van Schoor 46, Mpofu 2/26), Tuskers 91 (18.3 overs; Mupariwa 31, Klazinga 2/13). Vipers win by 35 runs.

Vipers Down Rhinos in Final Group Match

The second match of the day was also the final match of the group stage, pitting Desert Vipers - already out of the running - against Midwest Rhinos who, depending on whether you believed CricInfo's tournament table or SuperSport's, may still have been in with a shout. Vipers were at the crease first, as posted a decent 141/7 from their 20 overs - a score higher than it seemed they would get, after the side's top order failed to fire. It was the eventual arrival of #7 Chrisit Viljoen that finally put some urgency into the innings - he added 41 off 21 balls before losing his wicket on the final ball of the innings. Taurai Muzarabani took 2/24 to lead the bowling for Rhinos. In reply, early efforts by Rikki Wessels (32 off 15 balls) and Darren Stevens (33 off 25) saw Rhinos appear to be on course for victory, but the lower order unfortunately went to pieces under the Vipers' attack and the side limped its way to a disappointing 132/9 at the close. Louis Klazinga took 3/41, in the process almost certainly ensuring his side a place in the 3rd/4th place playoff. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 141/7 (20 overs; Viljoen 41, Muzarabani 2/24), Rhinos 132/9 (20 overs; Stevens 33, Klazinga 3/41). Vipers win by 9 runs.

Eagles Thrash Mountaineers in Top-of-Table Clash

In what could well be a prelude of tomorrow's final, Mountaineers and Mashonaland Eagles met in the first of today's matches in the Stanbic T20, and if the result was anything to go by, the trophy can be handed to Eagles already. Batting first after being put in to bat, Eagles only managed to score 141/9 from their 20 overs, with Greb Lamb's 40 being the only real innings of note as Greg Smith took an impressive 5/27 for Mountaineers to keep Eagles in check. If Eagles were poor, though, Mountaineers were some way below woeful - only Hamilton Masakadza (16) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (10) reach double figures as their side was skittled out for 59 inside 12 overs. Ray Price was the man who did the damage, surpassing Greg Smith's efforts with a haul of 5/12 from just 17 balls bowled. Now, what happens next depends on which version of the tournament table you're looking at. If CricInfo and Cricket Archive's table is correct, then Rhinos are still in with a shout of reaching the final if they beat Vipers this afternoon; SuperSport have been using a different table in their broadcasts, and if that's correct then it's already settled that Eagles will meet Mountaineers again tomorrow afternoon. We'll have to wait and see who's correct. Full scorecard for this match below the cut.
Eagles 141/9 (20 overs; Lamb 40, Smith 5/27), Mountaineers 59 (11.5 overs; H Masakadza 16, Price 5/12). Eagles win by 82 runs.

Rain Ruins Finals Hopes for Tuskers and Vipers

Only one match today in the Stanbic T20, and while both Matabeleland Tuskers and Desert Vipers had outside chances of reaching the final (dependent on results elsewhere), those chances were taken from them by rain late in the day. Vipers at least got to complete their innings, after winning the toss and opting to bat, and posted 147/4. Raymond van Schoor got the side off to a decent start with 44, while Dwaine Pretorius ended the innings on 48 not-out, but support from others was lacking and the total wasn't as good as it could have been. Not that it mattered - Tuskers only got 17 balls under their belts before the rain drew a line under the day's play, and that was the end of that. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 147/4 (20 overs; Pretorius 48*, Higgins 1/7, Williams 1/7), Tuskers 23/1 (4.1/20 overs; Coventry 15*, Klazinga 0/6). No result - match abandoned (rain).

Rhinos Still in the Chase as Rocks Fall Again

The second match of the day pitted Southern Rocks against Midwest Rhinos. Rocks have been unlucky in this tourney, with two close losses leaving them stranded at the bottom of the table, while Rhinos have just paid the price for inconsistency. It was Rhinos who finally got the run of the good fortune today, though. Rhinos won the toss and opted to field, and suffered a run of early wickets that saw them reduced to 64/4 during the 9th over as the top order failed to find form. The pairing of Alester Maregwede (48) and Craig Ervine (62) changed the tone of the Rocks' innings, though - the pair remained at the crease for the remainder of the innings, putting on 113 from 69 balls to leave Rocks on 177/4 at the close, a score that they seemed to have a good chance of defending. Throughout the tourney, though, Rocks' main weakness has been an unthreatening bowling attack, and that was what eventually cost them today. After scoring the early scalp of Vusi Sibanda (4), there was little else to cheer about for Rocks as, led by Rikki Wessels who carried his bat for the innings with an unbeaten 86, Rhinos chased down the target with a healthy 10 balls to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 177/4 (20 overs; C Ervine 62*, Stevens 1/25), Rhinos 179/3 (18.2 overs; Wessels 86*, Ireland 1/28). Rhinos win by 7 wickets.

Vipers Defanged as Mountaineers Go Top

Day Six, and we're on the downward run towards the final in the Stanbic T20. The first matchup of the day was Mountaineers v Desert Vipers, with both sides in with a shout of a final spot depending how the result of this match went. Mountaineers won the toss and chose to bat, and openers Bernard Mlambo and Hamilton Masakadza made a good start, putting on 81 for the opening wicket before Mlambo departed for 24. Masakadza went on to score 52 himself before being bowled by Williams, and while the wickets began to flow fairly regularly from there (Stuart Matsikenyeri's 32 was the best of the rest) the side were still able to push on to 172/8 from their allotted overs. In reply, Vipers lost Rudolph (5) early, but then Raymond van Schoor and Craig Williams set off at a cracking pace - their run-rate was over 10/over until van Schoor departed for 31, while Williams hung around a while longer, adding 35 himself before being bowled by Mushangwe in the 11th over with the score on 91. At that point Vipers were well-placed, but that was also the point where the wheels fell off their innings somewhat, with a number of quick wickets making sure that they simply weren't able to get scoring again at anywhere near the required rate. Their innings finally petered out with the side closing on 150/9 after their 30 overs, handing Mountaineers a convincing 21-run yet. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 172/8 (20 overs; H Masakadza 52, Williams 3/28), Vipers 150/9 (20 overs; Williams 35, Maruma 3/24). Mountaineers win by 21 runs.

Eagles Edge Closer to Final With Win Over Rocks

Another match, another down-to-the-wire thriller - this competition surely isn't lacking in entertainment and close finishes. The teams this time around were Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles, in the second match of the day, and once again Rocks will be rueing their bad fortune after another agonisingly narrow loss. Eagles won the toss and opted to field, allowing Rocks to do their best to carry on where they left off yesterday as the opening pairing of Chamu Chibhabha (61) and Sikandar Raza (38) saw the side to 111 off 81 balls before the first wicket fell. At that point, though, the wheels fell off as three wickets fell in three balls during a Doug Marillier over (sadly not a hat-trick, as the third wicket was a run-out). Alester Maregwede (20*) and Steve Tikolo (36) were fortunately able to rebuild from there to see Rocks to a competitive total of 168/4. In reply, Eagles suffered wobbles of their own, with the early wickets of Doug Marillier and Prince Masvaure slowing their charge to the total, but an impressive unbeaten 81 off 52 balls by Cephas Zhuwawo formed the backbone of the innings, with Elton Chigumbura's 41 form 27 also proving useful. At the death, though, it was a rapid-fire 13 not-out from 5 balls by Forster Mutizwa that powered Eagles past the target with just one ball to spare. That gives Eagles a clear lead at the top of the table, although with just two games played Vipers could yet mount a charge of their own. Let's hear it for close competitions. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 168/4 (20 overs; Chibhabha 61, Marillier 2/11), Eagles 171/4 (19.5 overs; Zhuwawo 81, Sikandar Raza 1/20). Eagles win by 6 wickets.

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