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]
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]
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]
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.
Kenya rounded off their tour of Zimbabwe with their largest loss yet, as Tuskers warmed up for the forthcoming Stanbic T20 in the best possible way. Kenya managed just 117 from their 20 overs, with Aga's 53 being the only innings of note in a disappointing knock; Keegan Meth took two wickets in the first over, finishing on 2/27 from his 4 overs, while Glenn Querl again showed his talent, taking 3/13 from 3 overs bowled. Tuskers reached the required target with few problems, with 20 balls still remaining when they crossed the line. Openers Horton (43) and Smith (42) led the way, and while there was a small flurry of wickets towards the end of the innings, it wasn't enough to stop them. Full scorecard below the cut.
Kenya 117/6 (20 overs; Aga 53*, Querl 3/13), Tuskers 121/3 (16.4 overs; Horton 43, Patel 2/19). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 7 wickets.
Matabeleland Tuskers were given a trouncing by Midwest Rhinos in their Pro50 meeting on Saturday, despite a ton from Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing and a useful 507 from Craig Ervine. The rest of the home side's lineup failed to contribute much, leaving them on 227 at the close of the innings - well sub-par on the Queen's pitch. In-form Rhinos captain Gary Ballance took full advantage with an unbeaten ton of his own, with Malcolm Waller continuing his own impressive run of form with 65 not out, as Rhinos reached their target with nearly 10 overs to spare. The result pins Tuskers to the bottom of the Pro50 tournament table, and lifts Rhinos into second place, although they've still got some work to do to catch Eagles. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 227 (49.5 overs; Ewing 106, Rainsford 3/35, Rhinos 228/1 (40.5 overs; Ballance 108*, Dabengwa 1/42). Rhinos win by 9 wickets.
Matabeleland Tuskers were all over Mashonaland Eagles in their Logan Cup 4th round match in Harare, which ended this morning. Batting first after winning the toss, Paul Horton led the side from the front, scoring a patient 104 as Tuskers posted 418. Craig Ervine (60) and Keith Dabengwa (59) also made good contributions along the way, while Innocent Chinyoka, Tatenda Manatsa and Nathan Waller each took three apiece for Eagles. A good knock by Tuskers, but no indication at that point of the carnage to follow.
And "carnage" is probably the best word for it as, when Eagles came to reply, the combined efforts of Glenn Querl (6/20) and Bradley Staddon (4/13) ripped through Eagles' lineup with no resistance: only Sikandar Raza (19) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (17) reached double figures, while Eagles' bottom six all departed without scoring, as their side slumped to a humiliating 52 all out, still 366 behind Tuskers' first-innings total. Tuskers naturally wasted no time in enforcing the follow-on, but while this time there was some fight in Eagles, in the form of an early partnership between Raza (28) and Ryan Bishop (22), and some mid-innings fight from Peter Moor (29) and Nathan Waller (23), for the rest of the side it was the same old story. Resuming on 59/2 at the beginning of day three, Eagles then lost 4 wickets without adding to that score before Moor and Waller managed some damage-control; but saving the game was far beyond their abilities and once the departed, 4 balls apart with the score on 112, the end wasn't far away. Eagles were bowled out second time around for 138, giving Tuskers a huge win - the second time they've beaten Eagles by an innings margin - and allowing their Bulawayo rivals to leap-frog them to top spot in the tournament table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 418 (109.1 overs; Horton 104, Chinyoka 3/48), Eagles 52 (26.3 overs; Sikandar Raza 19, Querl 6/20) & 139 (50.5 overs; Moor 29, Dabengwa 3/7). Matabeleland Tuskers win by an innings and 228 runs.
The Mashonaland Eagles juggernaut rolls on, completing a clean sweep over the other four franchises in the first half of the Pro50 programme when they beat Matabeleland Tuskers convincingly at Harare Sports Club. Fine batting by Cephas Zhuwao and Ryan Bishop was followed by a good all-round bowling and fielding performance, so that this match was as good as over halfway through the Matabeleland Tuskers’ innings. Only some fine batting by Steve Trenchard in particular down the order kept the margin of defeat for his team down to reasonable proportions.
The weather was hot and dry, the pitch shaven but with reasonable bounce, and the spectators were conspicuous by their absence. Harare is the only cricket centre where this competition is not well supported by the public, perhaps through lack of marketing. Matabeleland Tuskers won the toss and put Mashonaland Eagles in to bat.
With Sikandar Raza moving down the order, the early Mashonaland Eagles batting was a study in contrasts. Dean Mazhawidza took 27 balls to get off the mark and made four runs in his first hour at the crease. Zhuwao as usual was eager for the big hit, and when he reached 50 Mazhawidza had 6. Zhuwao celebrated with 20 off an over from the experienced off-spinner John Nyumbu, but was caught at deep midwicket for 71, scored off 77 balls with 11 fours and 2 sixes.
By this time Mazhawidza had moved on to 10, but now he began to play more positively, keeping the score ticking over in company with Bishop, before falling lbw to Glen Querl for 39, made off 91 balls. The score was now 154 for two in the 36th over. When Sikandar Raza joined Bishop the pair proceeded to take the bowling apart, hammering 87 in partnership in the space of nine overs. Raza made 47 from 30 balls, departing in the 45th over with the score now 244 for four.
The course of the innings now changed dramatically, as in the final six overs the last seven wickets fell for 34 runs, in a display of frenetic batting against controlled and persistent bowling. Querl, who had been mainly responsible for Mazhawidza’s turgid start, finished with four for 49, while the medium-paced Brad Staddon took a more expensive four for 72. The final total was 278, when 300 had looked a certainty when Bishop and Raza were together.
The Matabeleland Tuskers innings never took off. They had quite a strong team, considering that the national team squad and also Zimbabwe A players were unavailable, but the loss of Charles Coventry through injury was a serious loss. The first six in their order, at least, were players with experience and a good track record, but they never really put it together. Terry Duffin, like his counterpart Mazhawidza, really struggled when he opened the batting; unlike him, he was out for just a single off 15 balls.
Gavin Ewing was in sound form and kept the board moving well; his next partner, Paul Horton from Lancashire, gave him good support and the pair added 45 runs in 12 overs. This was a sound platform for the team to build on, but the building never came. Ewing made exactly 50 off 60 balls before he was out in the 20th over, and with him went Matabeleland Tuskers’ hopes, as the middle order never even fizzled. Craig Ervine might have led the charge, but he was out for 16, and when Adam Wheater departed lbw, the match was as good as over at 116 for six with the required run rate now over eight. The bowling was not spectacular, but it was sound and steady and did the job.
Trenchard does not have a good one-day record, but he fought back well, hitting the bad ball hard, and with Querl in particular he produced Matabeleland Tuskers’ best batting of the match – easier with the pressure off, as victory was now not an option. Querl made 34 off 27 balls, the pair adding 66 in less than seven overs, and in the same over Trenchard was run out for 60 off 43 balls. The innings closed for 240, better than had seemed likely earlier. Mark Mbofana, with three for 26, was the most successful bowler, but they all turned in steady performances. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 278 (50 overs; Zhuwao 71, Querl 4/49), Tuskers 240 (46.1 overs; Trenchard 60, Mbofana 3/26). Mashonaland Eagles win by 38 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Matabeleland Tuskers' good start to the season continue with an emphatic win over Southern Rocks in the latest round fo Logan Cup matches. Put into bat after Tuskers won the toss, Rocks made hard work of their first innings, with only captain Alester Maregwede (50*) putting on a decent knock as his side were bowled out for 148. Glenn Querl, back from playing for Unicorns in England, took 6/38 while Keegan Meth continued to make a mark for himself with 3/54. In reply, Tuskers posted 253, taking the first-innings point and leaving Rocks with a 105-run deficit to overcome.
Overcome it they did, but while their second innings was better than their first, they still only managed a below-par 204 from their turn. This time at least, Roy Kaia (54) and Mark Vermeulen (38) joined Maregwede (37) in putting up some resistance, but once again the pairing of Meth (5/53) and Querl (3/63) proved too much for Rocks to deal with as their lower order was skittled out. Tuskers, left with a target of 100 to win on day three, had few problems chasing it down, losing only the one wicket (Brian Chari, to a run-out) along the way to a 9-wicket victory that leaves them tied with Eagles on 14 points at the top of the tournament table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 148 (51.5 overs; Maregwede 50*, Querl 6/38) & 204 (90.1 overs; Kaia 54, Meth 5/53), Tuskers 253 (73 overs; Wheater 76, Muzarabani 3/33) & 100/1 (41 overs; Duffin 49*, Ewing 45*). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 9 wickets.
Matabeleland Tuskers probably thought that they'd set s good enough target in their Pro50 match against Southern Rocks - batting first after being put in by Rocks, the Tuskers managed a decent 264/9 from their 50 overs. Captain Gavin Ewing led the way with 67, Steven Trenchard added 48, while Duffin, Wheater and Ervine (supposedly too injured to play in the T20 in Harare, but still putting in a showing here) all passed 30. Roy Kaia took 3/32, while Tendai Chisoro nabbed 2/43 for Rocks.
Rocks' reply got off to a horrible start, with the side 3/30 after 9 overs as the top order spluttered. But Richmond Mutumbami's 94 off 79 balls got the innings firing, and while captain Alester Maregwede, in at 6th, had to deal with wickets falling around him, he managed to add 70 off 90 balls before finally falling with 2 balls remaining in the innings - and 5 runs required to win. Last man in Tafadzwa Kamungozi then took the bulls by the horns, scoring a four to tie the scores and then one run off the final ball to secure a fighting comeback win for Rocks, who are quickly earning a reputation as a side that just doesn't give up - at least in the one-day game. Tuskers, meanwhile, won't be pleased at letting them win a match that at one point they looked certain to lose. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 264/9 (50 overs; Ewing 67, Kaia 3/32), Rocks 265/9 (50 overs; Mutumbami 94, Ncube 5/71). Southern Rocks win by 1 wicket.