Stanbic Bank 20 Series

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Tuskers Edge Rhinos in Another Thriller

Day Five of the Stanbic T20, and the first match of the day was a close-fought bottom-of-the-table clash between Midwest Rhinos and Matabeleland Tuskers, with both sides needing to give their campaigns a boost if they were to keep their hopes of reaching the final alive. Tuskers won the toss and opted to field, and soon drew early blood as Rhinos lost Rikki Wessels (8) and Mluleki Nkala (0) early in the innings. Vusi Sibanda once again proved the rock around which Rhinos could base their efforts, though, adding 61, while in the lower order Malcolm Waller (33) and Ollie Rayner (24) both made useful contributions that lifted their side to 152/8 from their 20 overs - a higher total than had looked likely earlier in the morning. Chris Mpofu made the best inroads with the ball, taking 4/17 for Tuskers. The loss of Sean Williams in their first over saw Tuskers off to a wobbly start in their chase, but Gavin Ewing's 40 off 28 balls got things moving in the right direction and, despite the loss of several cheap wickets in the middle order, the side were there or thereabouts throughout their chase. It was the lower order trio of Andy Blignaut (26), Tawanda Mupariwa (19) and Keegan Meth (30*) who finished the chase off, with Meth scoring the winning runs with Tuskers needing 3 runs off the final ball to secure the win. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 152/8 (20 overs; Sibanda 61, Mpofu 4/17), Tuskers 154/8 (20 overs; Ewing 40, Cremer 2/14). Tuskers win by 2 wickets.

Rocks Fall Agonisingly Short Against Mountaineers

Southern Rocks versus Mountaineers was the second match of the day, and in the end was far closer and far more tense than might have been expected at the half-way point. Batting first after winning the toss, Mountaineers powered their way to 190/2 from their 20 overs, easily the highest team total of the tournament so far, with Hamilton Masakadza staying at the crease for the entire innings and amassing 102 runs (from 56 balls faced) along the way, before finally holing out to Tafadzwa Kamungozi on the final ball. Add in a determined 71 from Tatenda Taibu, and it looked as though Mountaineers had the match all sewn up. Rocks weren't going to give up without a fight, though, and Chamu Chibhabha got their innings started at a cracking rate of 13/over. That wasn't sustainable, but Chibhabha (70) and #3 Steve Tikolo added 107 for the 3rd wicket in 70 balls, keeping the side within a shout of their target, before Chibhabha finally fell to the bowling of Prosper Utseya. Tikolo (65) kept Rocks on track from there, but the wickets began to fall around him, and the loss of his own wicket with 4 balls remaining in the match and 9 runs still required probably called time on Rocks' chances. Craig Ervine fell 1 run and 2 balls later, leaving Alester Maregwede and Ian Harvey to finish the job - and they fell an agonising 2 runs short of victory, closing their innings on 189/6. Still, it was a determined effort from the side that is generally considered the weakest in the tournament, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them spring a few surprises yet. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 190/2 (20 overs; H Masakadza 102, Mahwire 1/18), Rocks 189/6 (20 overs; Chibhabha 70, Chitara 1/20). Mountaineers win by 1 run.

Eagles Sneak Past Vipers

The first match of the day at Harare Sports Club saw Desert Vipers lose their unbeaten record, after they were narrowly beaten by Mashonaland Eagles in a close-fought thriller. Eagles won the toss and put Vipers in to bat, and, ironically led by Zimbabwean player Norbert Manyande's 51, Vipers posted a decent 142. Early breakthroughs by Eagles' bowlers had left the Namibian side looking shaky at 24/3 before Manyande paired up with Dwaine Pretorious for an 88-run partnership for the 4th wicket, scored at more than a run a ball, that put the Vipers back on track. Douglas Hondo led the bowling for the Eagles, taking 2/13. In reply, Doug Marillier proved the rock of Eagles' innings, scoring 74 before bowing out with his side just keeping up with the required rate. Eagles reached their final over needing 5 runs to win with 5 wickets in hand, but needed just two balls of the over to finish the match off. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 142/6 (20 overs; Manyande 51, Hondo 2/13), Eagles 144/5 (19.1 overs; Marillier 74, Klazinga 1/13). Eagles win by 5 wickets.

Tuskers Rocked as Blignaut Lightning Fails to Strike Twice

Southern Rocks trounced Matabeleland Tuskers in the second match of the day to leave the day to leave the tournament table perfectly poised, as Andy Blignaut's magic failed to strike twice. Rocks won the toss and opted to bat, after rain delayed the start of play (although thankfully not by enough to shorten the match). The side got off to a blistering start, thanks to a 104-run opening partnership between Chamu Chibhabha (82*) and Sikandar Raza (53). Once Raza departed, clean-bowled by Sean Williams (2/16), the wickets began to fall regularly, but by then the heavy lifting had already been done, and Rocks finished on an impressive 166/4. Tuskers' reply got off to a bad start with the loss of Gavin Ewing on the 2nd ball of the innings, while fellow opener Mark Vermeulen soon followed. Sean Williams was the only player to manage a decent innings, scoring 39, and by the time Andy Blignaut departed for just 4, batting at 6th, the writing was on the wall. Tuskers did manage to see out their 20 overs, but finished well behind the target on 123/9. That gave Rocks a 43-run victory, and left all six sides in the competition tied on 2 points each and separated only by net run rate - although with Tuskers having played more matches than any other side and already being anchored to the bottom of the table, their prospects are already looking bleak. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 166/4 (20 overs; Chibhabha 82*, Williams 2/16), Tuskers 123/9 (20 overs; Williams 39, Ireland 3/25). Rocks win by 43 runs.

Eagles Fall to Rhinos

Midwest Rhinos got off the mark with a win against Mashonaland Eagles in the first of today's Stanbic T20 matches. Eagles were put into bat after Rhinos won the toss, and with the notable exception of captain Elton Chigumbura, who top-scored for his side with an impressive 53, none of the Eagles batsmen were ever able to really get going. Darren Stevens did most of the damage with the ball, taking 4/26 from his 4 overs. Rhinos' reply was perfectly paced, too, helped along by an Eagles attack that failed to take any wickets (the two men out were both runouts). Brendan Taylor impressed win an unabated 45, Vusi Sibanda's superb season continued as he chipped in with 41, while Rikki Wessels added 37 as Rhinos reached their target with a ball to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 140 (20 overs; Chigumbura 53, Stevens 4/26), Rhinos 146/2 (19.5 overs; Taylor 45*, Price 0/15). Rhinos win by 8 wickets.

Blignaut Smashes Tuskers to Victory

I'll confess, I haven't been a fan of many of the steady stream of 'rebel' players returning to the Zimbabwe cricket scene, especially those who hadn't played competitively since leaving the side - before most of them appeared, I had big doubts about how many of them could live up to their reputations after so long out of the saddle, and Andy Blignaut certainly slotted into that category. Today, in his first match for Tuskers, he answered his doubters in dramatic style. Tuskers were put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, and were merely okay until Blignaut arrived at the crease. At that point, the side were on 62/4 with just under 9 overs to face, and looking at a mediocre score. Blignaut and his partner Greg Strydom saw out the innings, though, with Strydom adding 29 from 26 balls, while Blignaut flayed the Mountaineers bowlers to all parts of the ground - and out of it, on several occasions - as he powered his way to 63* off just 32 balls - a rate of almost 2/ball. His fireworks display saw Tuskers to 157/4, and left Mountaineers with a mountain to climb - a mountain they immediately stumbled on, when they lost their openers (the brothers Masakadza) for just 12 on the board. Tatenda Taibu (62) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (35) did their best to rebuild the innings, but they barely managed to keep up with the required run rate, and once their partnership was broken a steady stream of wickets made the result inevitable. Mountaineers finished on 143/8 giving Tuskers a 14-run win and a much needed morale boost. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 157/4 (20 overs; Blignaut 63*, Maruma 1/9), Mountaineers 143/8 (20 overs; Taibu 62, Mpofu 3/18). Tuskers win by 14 runs.

Vipers Go Top After Thrashing Rocks

Namibia's Desert Vipers stamped their authority on the Southern Rocks, and marked themselves out as one of the sides to watch in the competition, with a convincing 46-run victory in today's first match. Vipers were put into bat after Rocks won the toss, and while Rocks made an early breakthrough with the wicker of opener Raymond van Schoor with the score on 3, most of the rest of those who got to the crease made useful contributions, pushing the side to 152/5 for their 20 overs. In reply, Rocks went all to pieces, despite their latest influx of new talent, managing just 106 before being bowled out. Alester Maregwede top-scored with 23, but it was Tony Palladino who truly marked the difference between the two sides, taking 4/21 from just 3.3 overs to ensure that Rocks' woeful season continues. The margin of victory was enough to leave Vipers top of the table on Net Run Rate at the end of the day, while Rocks were left languishing at the bottom. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 152/5 (20 overs; Williams 50, Kamungozi 1/22), Rocks 106 (18.3 overs; Maregwede 23, Palladino 4/21). Vipers win by 46 runs.

Eagles Down Tuskers

The second match of the day at Harare Sports Club was Mashonaland Eagles versus Matabeleland Tuskers, with Tuskers looking to find the sort of form that has so far evaded them in both longer forms of the game. Eagles won the toss and opted to field, allowing Tuskers to set the pace for the match, but with wickets falling regularly (including four run-outs) they were unable to do so. A decidedly out-of-form Sean Williams topped the scoring with 44 as the side stuttered their way to 118/7 from their 20 overs. Needing 119 to win, Eagles never really seemed to be in trouble, powering their way to the target within 18 overs. Elton Chigumbura lived up to his "Boom Boom" nickname, firing 48 off just 34 balls and ensuring that Eagles eased home with 15 balls to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 118/7 (20 overs; Williams 44*, Chigumbura 2/27), Eagles 121/5 (17.3 overs; Chigumbura 48*, Dabengwa 2/13). Eagles win by 5 wickets.

Mountaineers Beat Rhinos in T20 Opener

Mountaineers got their quest for the domestic T20 title off to a flying start with an 8-wicket win over MidWest Rhinos in the opening match of the Stanbic Bank Zim Twenty20 this morning. Rhinos were put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, and amassed 125/6 from their 20 overs, largely thanks to the efforts of Malcolm Waller (55) and Graeme Cremer (35), but that wasn't enough to put them out of the Mountaineers' reach - led by Hamilton Masakadza (74), the Mutare side chased down their target with over 4 overs to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 125/6 (20 overs; Waller 55, Ncube 2/15), Mountaineers 126/2 (15.4 overs; H Masakadza 76, Stevens 1/21). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.

T20 Fixtures Announced, Namibia's Participation Confirmed

The full fixture list for the domestic Twenty20 competition - now known as the Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe T20 - has been released. You can find the full list on our Domestic Fixtures page. ZC had promised that an 'international side' would take part in the tourney, and true to their word Namibia have been named as the 6th side. The tournament will run from 12-20 February, with all matches to be played at Harare Sports Club.
[Source: ZC]

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