Southern Rocks

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Vitori Cruises Rocks into Metbank Pro40 Finals

The top two teams in the MetBank Pro40 Championship table, Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers, have both been knocked out in the semi-finals. Perhaps they were distracted by the prospect of the Logan Cup Final to be played between them both in Mutare, starting this coming Wednesday, but certainly both turned in very poor batting displays to be beaten by teams that finished below them on the log. Matabeleland Tuskers did even worse than Mountaineers the day before, being bowled out for a miserable 94 by Southern Rocks, with Brian Vitori taking five cheap wickets. The Masvingo-based team made light work of their target, losing only one wicket as they raced to victory before three o’clock.

Matabeleland Tuskers were to regret their decision to bat first on a pitch that was slow but otherwise sound. The fault, though, was not with the decision but with those who should have taken advantage of it. They never looked like making a big score right from the start. The left-arm seamer Vitori bowled a fine spell from the pavilion end, but he did not have too much opposition. He dismissed both the newcomer Brian Chari and the experienced Keith Dabengwa in his second over, and in his fourth the captain Gavin Ewing, who had played a lone game in keeping the score ticking over, was furious to be given out caught at the wicket off an inside edge for 21. The team was seriously handicapped, though, by the loss of their two excellent English professionals, though, with Paul Horton and Adam Wheater required to return to their counties.

The score was now 34 for three, and worse was to come. Charles Coventry battled to 16 off 37 balls before he fished outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket off Mike Chinouya, returning to the side after injury, and the rest of the middle order caved in weakly in a series of soft dismissals. The third wicket fell for 56 in the 20th over. At last now, however, when it was too late, came some spirited resistance. Brad Staddon played with admirable composure and skill, helped by 10 from Tawanda Mupariwa, and the ninth wicket put on 27 runs, the best partnership of the innings. It took the return of Vitori to capture the last two wickets, although Staddon’s lbw for 25 was another rather controversial decision. The total was a dismal 94, and it would have been much worse without Staddon’s fighting spirit. Vitori finished with five wickets for only 26 runs, while Robertson Chinyengetere took three and Chinouya two. Almost nine overs of their allotted 40 went unused.

Southern Rocks, unaccustomed as they are to victory, had nothing to worry about as long as they did not become careless. Matabeleland Tuskers came out fighting, and determined to show that fact to the world by the constant barrage of noise they kept up in the field. They did make the batsmen fight for the runs. Sikandar Raza and Cham Chibhabha played some good straight drives over the bowler’s head in the powerplay overs before, at 29, Raza (14) miscued a pull to deep midwicket off Chris Mpofu, who was fast and aggressive.

Craig Ervine, just back from the World Cup, came in next to play a solid, capable innings, his most notable strokes being pulls off the short deliveries. Chibhabha played a sound innings, speeding up as he approached his fifty, but he was denied this landmark by Ervine, who drove a four and a six off successive balls to take Southern Rocks through to the final. Chibhabha finished with 45 and Ervine 36. Well as the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers had performed, their batsmen had not left them nearly enough runs to play with. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 94 (31.1 overs; Staddon 25, Vitori 5/26), Rocks 97/1 (20.3 overs; Chibhabha 45*, Mpofu 1/23). Southern Rocks win by 9 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Rocks Add 'B' One-Day Title to 4-Day Crown

They may have lost the T20 title narrowly on Saturday, but Sunday saw Southern Rocks 'B' turn the tables on Tuskers to claim the one-day title by a convincing margin, leaving them holding 2 of the 3 'B' titles for the season. Tuskers won the toss and opted to bat, but were bowled out for 171 in the 46th over as Rocks' Tendai Chisoro took 5/31, ably supported by Keith Kulinga (2/43), to keep Tuskers in check. Stephen Trenchard's 25 was the best of the bunch for Tuskers.

Rocks had very little problems chasing the total, losing just 4 wickets along the way and claiming the title with over 11 overs to spare. Alester Maregwede again top-scored, as he did in the T20, with 37, while Thabo Mboyi took 4/24 for Tuskers in a losing cause. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 171 (45.4 overs; Trenchard 25, Chisoro 5/31), Rocks 172/4 (38/5 overs; Maregwede 37, Mboyi 4/24). Southern Rocks 'B' win by 6 wickets.

Tuskers 'B' Claim Twenty20 Title

While our attention was distracted by the World Cup, this weekend was finals weekend for the T20 and one-day inter-provincial 'B' competitions. The Twenty20 was first up, on Saturday, with Matabeleland Tuskers and Southern Rocks facing off for the title, and with Rocks having already claimed the 'B' 4-day title they would have been hoping to continue their winning roll.

Tuskers won the toss and opted to field, giving Rocks the chance to set the running - they tallied up 122/5 from their alotted overs, with Alester Maregwede (29) leading the scoring. Two wickets came by run-out, while Tochukwu Enwerem had the best figures for Tuskers with 1/20.

Tuskers only just managed to chase that down, though - Mark Mabuza's 25 was the best of their innings, as they crossed the line with just one ball to spare to claim a 2-wicket win, having almost self-destructed with some terrible running of their own - the last 4 wickets of their over "fell" to run-outs. Roy Kaia took 1/14 for Rocks to lead their figures. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 122/5 (20 overs; Maregwede 29, Enwerem 1/20), Tuskers 124/8 (19.5 overs; Mabuza 25, Kaia 1/14). Matabeleland Tuskers 'B' win by 2 wickets.

Southern Rocks Claim Inter-Provincial 'B' Title

We've gotten very little in the way of results for the Inter-Provincial 'B' series, which saw the five franchise 'B' sides face off in a series of 3-day matches, but we did at least get full details of the tournament final. That ended in Masvingo yesterday with a thumping win for Southern Rocks over Mountaineers. Rocks, batting first after winning the toss, posted 530, with tons from Tendai Chisoro (130) and Tendai Chitongo (164) forming the backbone of their innings and Alester Maregwede chipping in with a useful 72. That was more than enough, and Chitongo again did the heavy lifting, taking 4/32 and 4/22 with the ball on the way to bowling Mountaineers out for 197 and, after enforcing the follow-on, 122 - which left them still 211 runs short of Rocks' massive total. Kudzai Sauramba's 49 in the first innings was the best score that Mountaineers could muster. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 530 (165 overs; Chitongo 164, Mufudza 3/91), Mountaineers 197 (45.2 overs; Sauramba 49, Chitongo 4/32) & 122 (41.3 overs; Sauramba 47, Chitongo 4/22). Southern Rocks 'B' win by an innings and 211 runs.

Mountaineers Defeat Rocks by 9 Wickets

Mountaineers completed the group stage of their Logan Cup campaign with another thumping win, this time a 9-wicket victory over the winless Southern Rocks. Tendai Chatara starred for Mountaineers, taking 11 wickets in the match and conceeding just 49 runs in 38 overs bowled to return figures of 6/33 and 5/16; Rocks could only manage 177 & 94 in their innings. Their second-innings total was enough to make Mountaineers bat again, but they needed less than 11 overs in their second innings to claim the full seven points - although it must be said that their first innings was dominated by three good knocks (Tino Mawoyo's 62, Timycen Maruma's 54 and Bernard Mlambo's 40) while the rest of the side failed miserably. Mountaineers will no doubt be glad to have some experience back in the side some the final.

Rocks finish bottom of the heap, while Mountaineers now go on to meet Tuskers in the final. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 177 (66 overs; Mutumbami 67, Chatara 6/33) & 94 (37.5 overs; Sikandar Raza 25, Chatara 5/16), Mountaineers 218 (68.4 overs; Mawoyo 62, Vitori 6/55) & 56/1 (10.3 overs; H Masakadza 29*, Mahwire 1/32). Mountaineers win by 9 wickets.

New Dates for MetBank Pro40 Semi-Finals Announced

Dates are in for the rescheduled MetBank Pro40 semi-finals - if you remember, the first attempt at finals weekend was completely washed out.

Friday 25 March: Mountaineers v Midwest Rhinos
Saturday 26 March: Matabeleland Tuskers v Southern Rocks

I assume the final will take place on the 27th, but that's not yet confirmed. Matches to be played at Harare Sports Club.

Tame Draw for Rocks and Tuskers

A few big knocks, a lot of poor ones, and a tame draw of a result in Bulawayo - that's what the second of this week's Logan Cup matches served up, and with Tuskers needing a win to keep hold of second place in the tournament table, that wasn't the result they were looking for. Southern Rocks posted 261 to open the match, led by Chamu Chibhabha's 105 - he was ably supported by Richmond Mutumbami (54) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (47), but if you total them up you'll see that there wasn't muuch of a contriubtion from the rest of the team. Tuskers' bowlers spread the wickets around, with Njabulo Ncube, Keegan Meth and Tawanda Mupariwa each taking three apiece. In reply, Adam Wheater's 126 formed the basis of Tuskers' innings as they worked their way to 365, with captain Gavin Ewing scoring 80 as Tuskers secured the first-innings point. Blessing Mahwire took 4/54.

Time ran out on Rocks' second innings, though - it had gotten off to a good start, with Roy Kaia scoring 112 and Chamu Chibhabha falling just short of a ton of his own with 91, but the match was declared a draw with Rocks on 292/4, leaving Sikandar Raza unbeaten on 41*. And that was all she wrote. Tuskers move down into third after this round's matches, overtaken by Rhinos after their thumping defeat of Eagles, while Rocks remain rooted to the bottom and without a win in the series yet. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 261 (103 overs; Chibhabha 105, Mupariwa 3/35) & 292/4 (111 overs; Kaia 112, Meth 2/52), Tuskers 365 (129.1 overs; Wheater 126, Mahwire 4/54). Match drawn.

Rhinos Beat Rocks by 98 Runs

The balance of this match had swung from one side to the other during the first three days, and it swung almost to the end. There was never any chance of Southern Rocks winning on the final day, but from looking dead and buried at lunch, superb defensive batting from Stuart Matsikenyeri and Robertson Chinyengetere took them to a position at tea when they looked likely to force a draw. But in the final session Mid-West Rhinos broke through again and the collapse of the last four wickets gave them victory by 98 runs. The young off-spinner Simon Mugava played a leading part with four good wickets and a run-out.

At the start of the day, Southern Rocks looked to be in a virtually hopeless position, with two wickets down for just 28 runs in search of a highly unlikely target of 309, and a rather awkward pitch to do it on. The situation immediately worsened when the overnight batsman Roy Kaia (10) edged the first ball he faced of the day into the hands of second slip; now 28 for three. In the event the pitch, although cracked and with balls keeping low at times, did not otherwise help the bowlers unduly and was not too difficult for a batsman concentrating on staying in rather than forcing the pace.

This Matsikenyeri was determined to do. He put his head down and took no risks, apart from one unwise attempted sweep that nearly had him lbw, and for a while he found a good partner in Sikandar Raza. They batted for almost an hour together until Raza was given out caught at short leg – another batsman departing most unhappy with the decision. When Richmond Mutumbami had an unwise swing at a ball from Simon Mugava and was bowled, the score was 76 for five and it seemed just one more incident in Southern Rocks’ seemingly inevitable slide towards defeat. At lunch the score was 94 for five, with Matsikenyeri on 35.

His new partner was Chinyengetere, who also put his head down, and for the entire afternoon this pair resisted everything the Mid-West Rhinos bowlers could send them. The bowling and fielding were generally good, but the batsmen would not be shifted. Matsikenyeri reached his fifty after more than three hours at the crease, and by tea the score had progressed to 162 for five. This was another session that changed the course of the match: at the start of it, Rhinos had seemed certain to win, while by the break Rocks were favourites to secure an unexpected draw.

In the final session the second new ball was taken, and this was make or break for Rhinos. Surprisingly Vusi Sibanda replaced Ian Nicolson with Roly Benade after two overs, but the move proved inspired, for Chinyengetere miscued a drive and was caught low down in the covers. His 47 had taken three hours and came off 157 balls; he well deserved a fifty. The pair had added 105 for the sixth wicket in those three hours.

Mid-West Rhinos went on the attack again with renewed hope, and Blessing Mahwire was run out by Mugava in a moment of confusion. Tafadzwa Kamungozi was next to go, caught at slip off the returning Nicolson, and finally Matsikenyeri’s long vigil came to an end. Just as Rhinos had put the fielders back to keep him away from the strike rather than get him out, he stepped in front of a straight ball from Mugava and was trapped lbw for 93. He batted more than five hours and faced 242 balls.

The last pair hung on as best they could, but 32 minutes was too long for them. They lasted only ten, without scoring a run, before Matanga was trapped lbw by Nicolson to end the match. In the end the last four wickets had fallen in six overs for only six runs. The youngster Mugava played the leading part for Mid-West Rhinos in the final innings, taking four for 56 with his off-breaks and also running out Mahwire. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 181 (71.3 overs; Nyathi 55, Sikandar Raza 2/5) & 326/9d (93.3 overs; Sibanda 104, Chibhabha 5/66), Rocks 199 (86.4 overs; Mahwire 66, Lewis 7/37) & 210 (99.3 overs; Matsikenyeri 93, Mugava 4/56). Midwest Rhinos win by 98 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Rocks, Eagles Fail to Avoid Draw

The draw at Masvingo Sports Club was not inevitable, but it could really only be decided if the home batsmen had collectively given their innings away at the hands of Mashonaland Eagles. As it was, some sound batting by the later Southern Rocks players, notably Robertson Chinyengetere with a fighting 71, made the match safe, and after that it died a lingering death until being put down at the earliest possible moment allowed by the laws. The pitch had been dead all the time, and it usually takes the match with it.

Overnight Rocks were 287 for seven, facing the heavy but slow Eagles total of 510. They therefore needed another 71 runs to avoid the follow-on with only three wickets left. Even on such a pitch, the odds were probably against them, but those same odds made it likely that, even if they did follow on, they should be able to bat out the rest of the day. But it all depended on the Rocks’ state of mind.

That state of mind was strong. The overnight pair of Chinyengetere and Tafadzwa Kamungozi was very watchful and very determined, once Kamungozi had survived a hard high chance in the slips in the first over of the day, bowled by Chad Keegan. Tino Mutombodzi continued to bowl from the north end of the ground, as he had done for most of the previous day, generally pushing the ball through fairly flat and often bowling round the wicket to aim for the footmarks at the other end. Not surprisingly, he grew tired and, although being kept on to the end of the innings, he was unable to wrap up the innings in time for his team to enforce the follow-on.

Chinyengetere reached his invaluable fifty by pulling a ball from Mutombodzi for four; he was in fact quick on the hook and pull when bowlers of any speed pitched short, keeping the ball on the ground but generally getting only ones or two. Most of the runs came in this fashion, through steady accumulation in small currency. The partnership had added 74 when Kamungozi finally sliced a catch into the covers off Mutombodzi to depart for 24; 329 for eight.

Nine runs later, Chinyengetere’s fighting innings came to an end, as quite unexpectedly he pushed a ball from Mutombodzi into the hands of silly mid-off. Both these batsmen had fought very well, but fell victims not so much to the pitch or the bowlers as to lapses of concentration. This is a common failing in Zimbabwean batsmen, and explains why scorecards are so full of batsmen making tens, twenties and thirties, but failing to cash in for a really significant score.

The last pair now needed 23 runs to save the follow-on – and it was fortunate for Southern Rocks that in this match they had reasonable batsmen down to number eleven. Brian Vitori joined Hilary Matanga, and this pair continued the fight, waiting for the right ball and taking mostly the ones and twos. At lunch seven runs were still needed, but even had they failed the team would have had to bat abysmally to be dismissed in the last two sessions. Finally, twelve minutes after lunch, the landmark was passed, and they added another 18 runs before Vitori was dismissed lbw to Innocent Chinyoka for 10, Matanga remaining unbeaten for an admirable 33. Mutombodzi in his 57 overs finished with seven for 137.

The rest of the match was purely academic, as Eagles batted a second time with a draw now a certainty. The best that can be said for most of the visiting batsmen was that they were not playing for their averages. Forster Mutizwa played briskly for 36, but the real exception was Simba Gupo, who built on his first-innings century with a carefully compiled 67 not out, making 214 runs in the match for once out, to a brilliant catch. If he builds on this, he will have a fine future. Scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 510 (169.3 overs; Gupo 147, Mahwire 2/71) & Eagles 140/5 (37 overs; Gupo 67*, Kamungozi 2/37), Rocks 379 (134 overs; Sikandar Raza 93, Mutombodzi 7/137). Match drawn.
[Match report via ZC]

No Play in Final Round of Metbank Pro40 Matches

Rain wiped out both of this week's Metbank Pro40 matches - Rhinos v Tuskers in Kwekwe, and Rocks v Mountaineers in Mutare - so it's as-you-were for the tournament table. The next matches are the semi-finals, and here's the lineup:

28 January      Mountaineers v Rhinos           Harare Sports Club
29 January      Tuskers v Rocks                 Harare Sports Club
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