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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.

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.

Tuskers and Mountaineers Play Out Draw

A draw against Matabeleland Tuskers in Bulawayo saw Mountaineers lose some ground on Eagles in the tournament table. Batting first, Gregory Strydom (54) and Thabo Mboyi (50*) helped Tuskers to 236 in their first innings, after which Tatenda Taibu's 95 led Mountaineers' reply, as the side posted 265 to claim a small first-innings lead. Tawanda Mupariwa took a career-best 6/52. Dion Ebrahim (114) led Tusker's reply, with enough coming from the other players for the side to reach 303/8 before declaring - although the declaration came with the knowledge that Mountaineers had little chance of reaching their target (275) in the time remaining. Sure enough, the clock ran out with the visitors on 104/4, led by Hamilton Masakadza's unbeaten 57. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 236 (77.5 overs; Strydom 54, Maruma 3/31) & 303/8 decl (88.4 overs; Ebrahim 114, Utseya 4/70), Mountaineers 265 (92.3 overs; Taibu 95, Mpofu 3/67) & 104/4 (31 overs; H Masakadza 57*, Meth 3/26). Match drawn.

Mountaineers Roll Over Rocks

I have to stop with the punning. But not today. Mountaineers proved their class by beating the hapless Rocks by an innings and 114 runs, with the match almost being the Masakadza family show, as Hamilton and Shingi both made key contributions to the win - Hamilton with a first-innings 183, and Shingi with a ton of his own and seven wickets in the match. Rocks, put into bat, put on 263 in their first innings, led by Craig Ervine's 55, while Timycen Maruma's 5/107 also impressed, but in reply Mountaineers racked up 562 before declaring with 9 wickets lost. That left Rocks needing 299 just to make Mountaineers bat again, and they barely got halfway there - barring a fighting 79 from Alester Maregwede, Rocks' batting imploded under sustained fire from the younger Masakadza and Prosper Utseya, and the side were bowled out for 185. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 263 (95.1 overs; Ervine 55, Maruma 5/107) & 185 (62.4 overs; Maregwede 79, Utseya 5/28), Mountaineers 562/9 decl (131.5 overs; H Masakadza 183, Kamungozi 4/124). Mountaineers win by an innings and 114 runs.

Eagles Hold Off Mountaineers

Eagles managed to hold off Mountaineers to secure a draw in their latest Logan Cup meeting - Mountaineers were only denied victory by lack of time, and would be right to feel disappointed. Mountaineers won the toss on day one and opted to field, seeing Eagles put on 266 in their first innings. Elton Chigumbura led the scoring with 77, with Greg Lamb next on 44, but the rest of the innings was a story of starts but no-one pushing on. Njabula Ncube took 3/48 for Mountaineers to help keep Eagles in check. In reply, though, Mountaineers were unable to capitalise on their early advantage, only managing to score 241 themselves and handing Eagles a 25-run lead. Tatenda Taibu's 60 was the best of the bunch, while Douglas Hondo (3/35) and Trevor Garwe (3/36) kept the match under control for Eagles.

Come the second innings, the loss of Eagles' opener Alois Tichana on the second ball wouldn't have been the most inspiring of starts, but 101 by #2 Prince Masvaure, many as part of a 93-run partnership with Forster Mutizwa (50), helped Eagles to 264 and cushioned the side against the almost-inevitable lower-order collapse. Propser Utseya's 3/86 led the bowling for Mountaineers. With time running out, Mountaineers were left a target of 290, and if more time had been left to them would have been in with a good shot at chasing it - at close of play, they were 190/4, with Tino Mawoyo (75) and Tatenda Taibu (63) both having had good knocks. It wasn't enough to change the result, though, and a draw it was, with both sides leaving the match with 12 points. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 266 (90.5 overs; Chigumbura 77, Ncube 3/48) & 264 (92.5 overs; Masvaure 101, Utseya 3/86), Mountaineers 241 (95.1 overs; Taibu 60, Hondo 3/35) & 190/4 (64.4 overs; Mawoyo 75, Garwe 1/23). Match drawn.

Rhinos Trample Mountaineers

Both of this week's matches in the Faithwear MetBank one-day series wewre dead rubber that could make no difference to the final tournament table, but with the semi-finals just a few days away there was at least momentum to play for. Mountaineers have set the running for most of the series, and went into this match with an unbeaten record, but it was Rhinos who came away victorious - and by a convincing margin. Mountaineers were put into bat after Rhinos won the toss, and were it not for the efforts of Stuart Matsikenyeri (86*) and Shingi Masakadza (57*) would have posted a frankly embarrasing total - Mountaineers were at 104/8 when the pair joined forces to put of a partnership of 108 that saw the side through to the end of their allotted overs and to a total that they had a chance of defending, at least on paper. Wickets were well spread around the Rhinos bowlers, with Michael Chinouya leading the pack with 3/39.

Chasing, Rhinos got off to an inauspicious start with the early losses of Innocent Chikunya and Friday Kasteni, but Brendan Taylor at 3rd became the anchor for the innings, seeing it through to the end and closing just one short of a ton, with Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Graeme Cremer providing support. Rhinos reached their target with 3 1/2 overs to spare, and a boost to morale ahead of their semi-final against Mashonaland Eagles. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 212/8 (50 overs; Matsikenyeri 86*, Chinouya 3/39), Rhinos 215/4 (46.3 overs; Taylor 99*, Musoso 2/33). Rhinos win by 6 wickets.

Mountaineers, Rhinos Draw in Kwekwe

After losing a full day to rain, Mountaineers and Rhinos played out yet another draw in Kwekwe, with Mountaineers securing their lead over Rhinos in the Logan Cup table by claiming more of the bonus points on offer. Put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, Rhinos posted 202 for their first innings, a disappointing total by their standards as for once the side failed to have anyone blaze a trail for them - Graeme Cremer's 46 was the best of the bunch, closely followed by Brendan Taylor (41), but after that it was a case of failed starts - and a blinder of a innings by Shingirai Masakadza, who took 6/54 for Mountaineers.

In reply, Mountaineers suffered many of the same problems as Rhinos had before them, but where Rhino's best two got out in the 40's, Mountaineers' best two pushed on to impressive totals. Hamilton Masakadza added 155, while Tatenda Taibu reminded us that he still does have class by adding 95 - together, the pair added 235 for the 3rd wicket, the partnership the made the difference between the batting of the two sides. Ed Rainsford took 5/83 for Rhinos, with Taurai Muzarabani and Graeme Cremer claiming a pair each. Mountaineers finally declared on 362/9, but by then the match was already into the final day and a result was very unlikely. Rhinos reached 94/1 in their second innings before the close of play, rounding out another tame draw. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 202 (66.5 overs; Cremer 45, S Masakadza 6/54) & 94/1 (36 overs; Chikunya 39*, Matsikenyeri 1/20), Mountaineers 362/9 decl (117.5 overs; H Masakadza 155, Rainsford 5/83). Match Drawn.

Franchise 'B' League Fixtures Announced

ZC have issued a fixture list for the Franchise 'B' League, which will see sides play a series of 2-day matches during January, February and March. For the full schedule, check our Domestic Fixtures page.

Mountaineers Pile More Misery on Tuskers

Top-of-the-table Mountaineers eased past bottom-of-the-table Tuskers in the second Faithwear match of the round in Mutare earlier. Batting first after winning the toss, Tuskers' batting once again let them down as they were bowled out for 197. Captain Greg Strydom's 53 spared some blushes for the visitors, while Sean Williams provided a useful 34 on his return from injury, but there wasn't much else in the lineup to write home about. Natsai Mushangwe took 4/40 from his 10 overs for Mountaineers to help pile the pain on Tuskers.

In reply, Mountaineers never really seemed to be in any trouble. Opener Tino Mawoyo led the way with an unbeaten 66, while Hamilton Masakadza added 58 and Timycen Maruma 47 as the side eased home in the 43rd over. Sean Williams (1/58) took the only wicket for Tuskers. The result leaves Tuskers' participation in the semi-finals looking very unlikely - the side need to win both their remaining matches, and hope that 4th-place Rocks lose both of theirs, if they're to gain a semi-final place. Personally, I wouldn't bet on it. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 197 (48.4 overs; Strydom 53, Mushangwe 4/40), Mountaineers 201/2 (42.1 overs; Mawoyo 66*, Williams 1/58). Mountaineers win by 8 wickets.

Mountaineers and Tuskers Draw

Very little to write about with this one, as the match ended up a tame draw with both sides claiming 6 points from the encounter. Mountaineers got the better of what play there was, racking up 348/6 in their available time after bowling Tuskers out for a paltry 195, but with little to fight for results-wise it was little more than batting practice. Gavin Ewings' 58 was the only knock of note for Tuskers, who were undone in the main by Timycen Maruma, who took 4/30 from 15 overs bowled. In reply, there wasn't a bad knock from those Mountaineers batsmen who got to the crease, with Tino Mawoyo's 40 being the lowest completed innings (Donald Tiripano (7*) and Prosper Utseya (3*) didn't get much chance to build scores before the match ended), and there were plenty of positives from the others, with Hamilton Masakadza top-scoring on 79, while Timycen Maruma again got in on the act with a Twenty20-esque 59 off just 36 balls.

But the match was destined to be a draw, and that was that. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 195 (61 overs; Ewing 58, Maruma 4/30), Mountaineers 348/6 (88.1 overs; H Masakadza 79, Meth 2/43). Match drawn.

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