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]
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]
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]
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.
Another sub-par performance from the Eagles left them rooted to the bottom of the MetBank Pro40 table, as Tuskers completed a domestic double over them after beating them in the Logan Cup earlier in the week. Eagles, put in to bat after Tuskers won the toss, posted a sub-par 196 all out in just over 35 overs, with Tuskers' Chris Mpofu (3/32) leading the bowling. Chasing, Tuskers got off to a slightly slow start, but led by Terry Duffin's patient 88 - the only knock of note - they chased down to target with just over 4 overs to spare. Greg Lamb took 3/42 for Eagles, while Ray Price marked his return to the side with an economic 25 runs conceded off the 7 overs he bowled. The win leaves Tuskers sitting pretty at the top of the tourney table, a Eagles languishing at the bottom - a complete reversal over last season's form for both sides. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 196 (35.1 overs; Butterworth 45, Mpofu 3/32), Tuskers 197/6 (35.5 overs; Duffin 88, Lamb 3/42). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 4 wickets.
Eagles' woeful form continued as Tuskers thumped them by an innings and 124 runs inside 3 days, sending Tuskers to a clear lead in the Logan Cup table. Batting first after having been put in by Eagles, Tuskers posted an impressive 478 in their only innings with tons from Seand Williams (127) and Keith Dabengwa (114) leading the way. Douglas Hondo took 4/75 for Eagles. In reply, though, Eagles were skittled for a palty 76, with only Andrew Hall (33) and Ryan Butterworth (10) reaching double figures. Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing wasted no time in enforcing the follow-on, and while Eagles managed a better score in the second innings they still ended a long way short of making Tuskers bat again - the side were bowled out second time around for 278, with Greg Lamb's 101 being the highlight of an otherwise forgettable game for Eagles. Keegan Meth led the bowling figures for Tuskers in both innings, taking a combined 8/63 to reinforce his claims for a long overdue national callup. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 478 (126.5 overs; Williams 127, Hondo 4/75), Eagles 76 (34 overs; Hall 33, Meth 4/24) & 278 (88 overs; Lamb 101, Meth 4/39). Matabeland Tuskers win by an innings and 124 runs.
Gary Ballance, nephew of the great Dave Houghton, has announced his arrival on the Zimbabwe cricket scene in magnificent fashion. After scoring two handsome fifties in the Logan Cup match against Mashonaland Eagles a few days earlier, he hit a magnificent 135 not out in the Metbank 40-over championship match that followed to lead his team, MidWest Rhinos, to a thrilling two-wicket victory over the same opposition at Kwekwe.
Had it not been for him, assisted by Rhinos captain Vusi Sibanda, Eagles would have won the match with ease, as man for man they played the better cricket. Their batting was more consistent, their bowling more accurate and their fielding better. But they were beaten by one superb innings, as can happen in one-day cricket, that snatched the match from their grasp.
Rhinos put the Eagles in to bat on winning the toss, but they do not have the bowling strength at present to take advantage of it. Taurai Muzarabani bowled quite well, but the others were not able to keep the Eagles batting in check. Rhinos had a lucky break when Friday Kasteni ran out Simbarashe Gupo early on, but the next three batsmen in the order all reached 50. Cephas Zhuwawo's 57 off 62 balls gave the Eagles a flying start, but even he was put in the shade when Forster Mutizwa came in and scored 50 off only 37 balls. Between them Prince Masvaure played soundly for 62, but the Rhinos fielders were guilty of dropping several chances. 248 for five looked a good score.
It would have been, too, but for the superb century by Ballance. Two wickets were down for 21, but then he shared a vital stand of 123 with Sibanda, who hit a fine 58 off 55 balls. When Sibanda left, the middle order steadily departed, and had Ballance gone, Eagles would have taken the match. But he stayed to the end, hitting another boundary to win the match with three balls to spare in the final over. He faced only 121 balls, and hit 12 fours and three sixes. Douggie Hondo was the best bowler of the match, taking three for 31 off his eight overs; he may have contained Ballance to an extent, but he could not dismiss him. Gary Ballance's future in Zimbabwe cricket will be very interesting to watch. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 248/5 (40 overs; Masvaure 62, Waller 1/36), Rhinos 252/8 (39.3 overs; Ballance 135, Hondo 3/31). MidWest Rhinos win by 2 wickets.
For a large chunk of this match it looked as though Rhinos had done enough to secure a win, but they and Eagles saw out a draw in their Logan Cup fixture in Kwekwe. The match was dominated by a few key performances on both sides - Rememberance Nyathi's 118 anchored Rhinos' first innings score of 351, while Andrew Hall's unbeaten 101 was the backbone of for Eagles' first knock. Eagles declared their first innings with just a three-run lead, giving Rhinos the chance to put the game beyond their reach - and Gary Balance (132), Friday Kasteni (56) and Vusi Sibanda (57) gave them a good chance of doing that. Rhinos made a sporting declaration at lunch on the final day, though, setting Eagles a target of 292 to chase for victory, within reach if they pushed themselves, and Forster Mutizwa's 84 off 92 balls set them up to do that. Mutizwa's departure saw Eagles lose steam, though, and the match was eventually called off as a draw late in the afternoon. The result leaves both sides on just 2 points each, far adrift of leader Mountaineers who are on 13. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 351 (108.2 overs; Nyathi 118, Garwe 3/75) & 294/4d (74 overs; Balance 132, Mutombodzi 3/137), Eagles 354/8d (112.5 overs; Hall 101*, Sibanda 2/22) & 187/5 (52 overs; Mutizwa 84, Muzarabani 3/33). Match drawn.
The Daily News reports that, now that the English county season is over, Northants player and former South African international Andrew Hall has arrived in Zim to take up his position as head coach of Mashonaland Eagles. Hall replaces Chris Silverwood on a one-year contract, and with Eagles having gotten off to a poor start to the season he'll already have his hand full.
Daily News - Eagles offer too good to refuse - Hall
The other Pro40 match of the day was Mountaineers v Mashonaland Eagles, which while technically a home match for Mountaineers was played at Zimbabwe Cricket Academy in Harare (I'm hearing that there are issues with the pitch at Mutare Sports Club which may not be resolved until mid-season). Eagles have had a poor start to the season but were hopeful of getting in the win column today - but sadly for them, Mountaineers had other ideas. Batting first after losing the toss, an opening partnership of 127 between Tino Mawoyo (eventual top-scorer with 73) and new signing Jonathan Beukes (69) saw the side race to a dominant position, with Tmycen Maruma's 43 off 31 balls helping to cement their position. Eagles' bowlers finally started making some breakthroughs, but with Trevor Garwe's 2/45 being the best of the bunch it was hardly an inspiring display, and Mountaineers closed on an imposing 274/5 at the end of their 40 overs.
In reply, Eagles were never even remotely in the chase - starting with the first-ball departure of Cephas Zhuwawo, the wickets continued to flow, with only Simbarashe Gupo (36) and Trevor Garwe (28) hanging around long enough to make an impression as the side were bowled out in the 33rd over for a paltry 163, handing Mountaineers a huge 111-run victory in the process. That also gave Mountaineers a bonus point which puts them clear at the top of the tournament table, while Eagles are now languishing in last place. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 74/5 (40 overs; Mawoyo 73, Garwe 2/45), Eagles 163 (32.2 overs; Gupo 36, Mujaji 3/30). Mountaineers win by 111 runs.