Southern Rocks

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Sibanda and Vincent Cruise Rhinos to the Finals

After the thrills of the low-scoring semi-final in the morning, the afternoon brought a less exciting match for the second finalist, but one much more spectacular in the way of strokeplay. Brilliant batting by Vusi Sibanda and Lou Vincent in a third-wicket partnership of 139 runs took Mid-West Rhinos into the final against Mash Eagles with ease, leaving Southern Rocks to play Matabeleland Tuskers for third place the following morning.

Southern Rocks won the toss and took the usual course of batting; the sun was out and the conditions had dried since the drama of the morning’s match. Sikander Raza again gave the Rocks a cracking start, although for a briefer time than usual; with 13 off 11 balls, including three fours, he sent up a skyer to mid-on. Tatenda Taibu came in next, rather than Elton Chigumbura, and the rest of the innings was the story of his batting, with a series of partners who generally did not last long.

Southern Rocks now have a batting order full of star-studded names, all internationals apart from Sikander Raza, who has been the most consistent and spectacular of all this tournament. But in this innings none of them lasted long with Taibu until Steve Tikolo came in, and immediately launched into some brilliant strokes. Rarely has he played like this in a T20 match, as he raced to 27 off 13 balls before being run out. Taibu was out for 57, caught in the deep in the final over, off 51 balls. The final total was 151 for eight, an average score in this tournament, but less than Rocks’ potential or many past performances. There was a feeling it might not be enough, with their limited bowling attack – as long as the Rhinos kept their nerve. Of the Mid-West Rhinos bowling, Brendan Taylor’s two for 17 off his four overs was most effective.

Mid-West Rhinos did not make a good start, and before the end of the third over they had lost both openers for 13 runs. Gary Ballance (1)fell to a brilliant reflex catch by Chris Harris in the gully, while Taylor was caught by the keeper off a fine glance down the leg side for 7. Sibanda, who has had little luck recently, settled in with Vincent and the two set about the recovery. At first they batted cautiously, apart from a pull for six by Sibanda almost immediately he came in, and with a total of 53 for two at the ten-over mark the required run rate was almost exactly ten an over; if they lost a couple of wickets, they would be in trouble.

But the gamble paid off, and they now began to attack the bowling brilliantly. Sibanda took the lead, reaching his fifty off 39 balls and clearing the boundary with ease at times. Vincent took 44 balls for his fifty, but then sailed past Sibanda in the fifties and hit a gigantic six high over the media centre. Sibanda almost equalled this by hitting another delivery on to the roof of the building at the city end of the ground, and so dominant were the batsmen that Mid-West Rhinos raced to victory with nine balls in hand. 92 runs came off the last 7½ overs; Sibanda finished with 60 off 44 balls and Vincent 75 off 55. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 151/8 (20 overs; Taibu 57, Taylor 2/17), Rhinos 152/2 (18.3 overs; Vincent 75*, Chinouya 1/26). Midwest Rhinos win by 8 wickets
[Match report via ZC]

Mountaineers bow to the Rocks

Brilliant batting displays from Sikander Raza and Elton Chigumbura paved the way for a very convincing victory by Southern Rocks over Mountaineers by 23 runs. Both made devastating fifties, and the reigning champions never looked like challenging the Rocks’ total of 198. The final overs were brightened by some mighty blows from Lance Klusener, but the top order had failed so badly that even his brutal fifty could only narrow the margin of defeat.

Southern Rocks batted on winning the toss, which has become standard practice in this tournament. Once again Raza gave his team a flying start, this time in company with Cham Chibhabha, and they raced to 47 off five overs before Chibhabha was caught on the midwicket boundary for 18. Raza ran to his fifty off 28 balls before he holed out at mid-on for 54, which included 8 fours and a six. The score was now 86 for two in ten overs.
Briefly now Mountaineers fought back, and fine fielding brought about the run-outs of
Craig Ervine and Brendan Taylor cheaply; 108 for four in the 14th over. But Chigumbura, again coming in at three, was still there, and with Tendai Chisoro as his new partner he led a brutal assault on the bowling. The pair added 51 in four overs, and one six followed another as they went in for big hitting. Chisoro hit two of them in his 24, while Chigumbura caught in the deep in the final over, scored 71 off 45 balls, with three fours and five sixes. The international bowlers Sean Ervine and Lance Klusener took the worst of the onslaught, although they did in the end get the wickets, two to Klusener. Shingi Masakadza and Netsai Mushangwe, although under less pressure, did a good job in conceding less than seven runs per over.

Mountaineers now had a mountain to climb, 199 to win. Tino Mawoyo, ill-advisedly kept out of the team until now by the presence of more overseas players, gave them a dashing start with 22 off 17 balls, including two sixes and two fours. Then Mountaineers suffered a serious blow as Hamilton Masakadza was given out, rather controversially, by the third umpire for 15; 48 for two after six overs. The situation worsened as Timycen Maruma holed out for 5 from a skyer, and after 10 overs the score was 71 for three.

Victory was still just a possibility at this stage, although the asking rate was more than 12, but a tremendous assault was required, and this did not happen. Mark Vermeulen played some good shots in his 30, off 31 balls, but in such circumstances even more than this was necessary, and Mountaineers slid steadily further behind the required run rate. When Ervine arrived at the crease they needed 16 an over, which had grown to 18 when Klusener joined him. It was an impossible task even for such mighty warriors, although Klusener might have made a challenge had he come in earlier. He hit Chigumbura for three sixes in the penultimate over and Raza for another three in the last; seven sixes altogether in 56 not out, made off only 18 balls. But his team now have to wait for the final match in the afternoon to see if they, who won the tournament last season, or Mid-West Rhinos will be eliminated from the finals. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 198/6 (20 overs; Chigumbura 71, Klusener 2/41), Mountaineers 175/7 (20 overs; Klusener 52*, Kamungozi 2/22). Southern rocks win by 23 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Star-Studded Rocks Bounce Back

This was a batsman’s match, and the record-making batsmen from Southern Rocks were able to do the job with more effect than those of the Matabeleland Tuskers. The Rocks set up a new competition record total of 221 for six wickets, due mainly to two devastating innings from Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura, who totally destroyed the Tuskers’ bowling. Try as they did, the Tuskers could find nobody able to match such brutality, but their batsmen went down with honour.

Southern Rocks had the good fortune to win the toss and, considering that the side batting first has won every match in this tournament to date, decided to do that. The slaughter began from the very first ball, the chief executioner being Raza, the Pakistani-born opener who was one of the successes of last year’s T20 but has only just been awarded a place – very successfully – in his franchise’s Logan Cup team. There was a changed batting order, with Brian Lara opening the innings with Raza. It is not often Lara has been overshadowed, but on this occasion he was totally eclipsed, although he did wisely give his partner his head and most of the bowling. When Lara was caught on the long-on boundary for 11, off 11 balls, the total was already 98; Raza had already passed his fifty, which came off only 25 balls.

Chigumbura came in next, a wise choice, as he hit his first ball for six and matched Raza stroke for stroke. Raza fully deserved a century, but he eventually skied a catch into the covers for 93 off 48 balls, in only the 12th over; he hit 11 fours and 5 sixes. Chigumbura also reached a fifty off 25 balls, and his eventual score was 65 off 31 balls, without a single four – but with seven sixes. After these two had gone, the rest of the innings was inevitably an anticlimax, but the 200 came up in the 18th over and the eventual total was 221 for six. In last year’s tournament the highest team total was a mere 190 for two, by Mountaineers against Rocks.

Matabeleland Tuskers’ task was almost impossible, but the two Englishmen opening the innings, Paul Horton and Neil Carter, set about their task in a quieter way than Raza and Chigumbura had done, but no less effectively, putting on 48 in four overs before Horton fell for 20. Soon afterwards Carter went for 30 off 15 balls, and Charles Coventry and Gavin Ewing had to take over. If anybody could challenge the massive Rocks total, Coventry could, and he was soon attacking with great power. After ten overs Tuskers had reached 105 for two, still in the game, and Coventry had 37 off 19 balls. But without adding to this he holed out in the deep, having faced 20 balls and hit a four and 4 sixes.

Realistically, this ended the Tuskers’ hopes. Ewing did his best, with 36 off 26 balls, but there was nobody now left capable of achieving the required rate of 11 an over, and climbing. 74 were needed off the last five overs, but the remaining wickets tumbled as the batsmen attempted the impossible. Cham Chibhabha with four for 32 did most to wrap up the tail, but it was the batting that will long be remembered in this match – not least by the bowlers themselves. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 221/6 (20 overs; Sikandar Raza 93, Carter 2/32), Tuskers 180 (19.3 over; Coventry 37, Chibhabha 4/32). Southern Rocks win by 41 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Rhinos Off the Mark as Rocks Languish

Day two of the Stanbic T20, and Midwest Rhinos got off the mark with a win over the Southern Rocks. Batting first after winning the toss, it has to be said that Rhinos' innings wasn't the most convincing - Rikki Wessels' unbeaten 47 was the pick of the bunch, but with a number of batsmen failing to get going - once again including captain Vusi Sibanda (9), whose woeful run of form continues - it had seemed as though the final total of 149/6 would be a fairly easy target for Rocks to chase.

As with yesterday's match, though, Rocks failed to fire with the bat, and this time even Lara (23) couldn't manage a decent knock. Craig Ervine (25*) was the best of a poor bunch, and while a late flurry brought Rocks closer to the target than it had at times looked they would get, they were still 11 runs short when their innings came to an end. Ian Nicolson took 3/18, and Malcolm Waller 3/23, to keep Rocks in check as wickets fell regularly through the innings.

That leaves Rocks rooted to the bottom of the table, while Rhinos go third, level on points with Mountaineers and Eagles but trailing on net run rate. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 149/6 (20 overs; Wessels 47*, Harris 2/11), Rocks 138/9 (20 overs; Ervine 25*, Nicolson 3/18). Midwest Rhinos win by 11 runs.

Eagles Crush Rocks in Stanbic T20 Opener

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.

Rocks Sign Lara, Sidebottom; Sean Ervine Heads for Mountaineers

CricInfo reports that Southern Rocks have signed former West Indies great Brian Lara and English paceman Ryan Sidebottom for the forthcoming Stanbic T20 tournament, which gets underway on November 13th. Lara's interest in Zim's domestic T20 was trialled when he visited the country to present the annual ZC awards at the beginning of the season, but now the mystery of who he would sign for has been answered. Hopefully he'll do better for Rocks than he did for Mumbai Champs, the ICL franchise side he captained for a season.

Sean Ervine, meanwhile, will also be returning for the T20 tournament, but this year is moving from Rocks to Mountaineers.

UPDATE: Yorkshire have refused to release Sidebottom for the tournament. He's been replaced in the Rocks side by Chris Harris.
CricInfo - Rocks sign Lara, Sidebottom for T20

Tuskers Claim Second Metbank Pro40 Win

Matabeleland Tuskers earned their second win in the Metbank Pro40, edging out Southern Rocks by five runs in an encounter which went down to the wire at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Mbekezeli Mabuza was the hero for the home franchise, scoring an unbeaten 46 runs at number seven, before going on to bowl the last and most crucial over in which Rocks needed 10 runs to win and gave away only four runs. Mabuza had earlier shared a century stand with wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, who once again top scored with 69 runs for Tuskers in their total of 218.

Rocks failed to capitalise on a perfect start from their openers Tendai Chitongo (73) and Steve Marillier (55). After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, Tuskers did not get a great start, reduced to 79 for five in the 18th over before Wheater and Mabuza dug in. Wheater, the hero in Tuskers’ Logan Cup match at the same venue, again starred with the bat, striking the ball well and complementing that with good running between the wickets in his partnership with Mabuza. Wheater got most of his runs with the slog sweep shot, raced to his half century after facing just 52 deliveries, smashing three fours in the process before he became one of left arm seamer Tendai Chisoro victims. Keegan Meth got an inside edge off a Chinouya delivery and was bowled for one run.

Mabuza found another partner in Bradley Staddon and the two shared in a seventh wicket stand of 36 runs. Mabuza finished with 46 from 66 balls, with Staddon contributing 20 off 11 balls. Chisoro finished with figures of four wickets for 26 with one wicket apiece for Chinouya and Keith Kulinga.

Southern Rocks got a perfect start from their opening pair of Steve Marillier and Tendai Chitongo, who put on 102 runs for the first wicket before left arm spinner Williams who found the breakthrough when he had Marillier taken in the deep by John Nyumbu. Off-spinner Nyumbu picked up three quick wickets to peg back the visitors. Mabuza reduced them to 189 for six but with four wickets, Southern Rocks were still in the hunt.

Ten runs were required off the last over, bowled by Mabuza with Stuart Matsikenyeri and Alester Maregwede the two batsmen at the crease, but only four singles came off the over and Tuskers had their second win of the tournament. Nyumbu was the pick of the Tuskers bowlers with three wickets for 31 runs with one wicket each for Njabulo Ncube, Williams and Mabuza. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 218/7 (40 overs; Wheater 69, Chisoro 4/26), Rocks 213/6 (40 overs; Chitongo 73, Nyumbu 3/31). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 5 runs.

Tuskers Sneak Home on Final Day

This week's Logan Cup pairing between Southern Rocks and Matabeleland Tuskers had looked almost certain to be a draw, but the home side were given the chance of a rapid-fire run-chase on the final afternoon and seized it with both hands the secure a 6-wicket victory in Bulawayo.

Rocks had set a decent total of 341 in their first innings, thanks largely to another impressive knock by Sikandar Raza, who put on 146 before being bowled by Keith Dabengwa. There was minimal support from most of his Rocks colleagues, though, as Keegan Meth ran through them with few problems, taking 6/87. Anything Rocks could do, though, Tuskers decided to do better, with a one-man show of their own - Terry Duffin opening for Tuskers managed a hugely impressive 193, and with Gavin Ewing adding 81 in the middle order Tuskers were well set on their way. A tail-end collapse saw them bowled out for 391 - low, given the start Duffin had secured them, but a first-innings lead of 50 nonetheless.

Come their second knock, Rocks were less impressive - Sikandar Raza again led the scoring, but this time only managed 60 not-out as his side were bowled out for 225, leaving Tuskers chasing 176 to win but with time rapidly running out. A few early wickets gave Rocks hope of holding out the day, but a strong closing partnership between Adam Wheater (58*) and Steven Trenchard (49*) - who was only there as a mid-game replacement for Keith Dabengwa after he was called away on national duty - saw Tuskers home to their first win of the competition - enough to move them into second place in the tourney table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 341 (107 overs; Sikandar Raza 146, Meth 6/87) & 225 (108 overs; Sikandar Raza 60*, Ncube 3/67), Tuskers 391 (106.3 overs; Duffin 193, Kulinga 5/114) & 176/4 (31.3 overs; Wheater 58*, Mahwire 2/65). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 4 wickets.

Rhinos Claim First Pro40 Win as Rocks Crumble

After being denied the win in the Logan Cup meeting earlier in the week, MidWest Rhinos made no mistakes in their Pro40 match-up against Southern Rocks today, claiming an 18-run victory and getting their one-day season off to a winning start. Batting first after losing the toss, Rhinos posted a competitive 239/8 from their 40 overs, led by Malcom Waller's rapid fire 94 - his career-best List A score so far, coming off just 82 balls. Support in the lower order came from Friday Kasteni (52), and while the rest of the batting wasn't quite so impressive there was enough there to leave Rocks facing an imposing total. Blessing Mawhire's 3/40 led the bowling.

In reply, Rocks faltered early with the loss of Sikandar Raza on the 5th ball of the innings (the first of Solomon Mire's three wickets), but were steadied for a while by Tatenda Taibu, who top-scored for his side with 56. He departed with the score on 119/4, though, and from there a steady stream of lost wickets ultimately led to Rocks' demise. Rhinos captain Brendan Taylor, usually found behind the wickets, took the ball for a chug and ended up leading the bowling for his side, taking 4/35 as Rocks were bowled out for 221 with an over to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 239/8 (40 overs; Waller 94, Mahwire 3/40), Rocks 221 (39 overs; Taibu 56, Taylor 4/35). MidWest Rhinos win by 18 runs.

Rocks Hold On for Draw After Rhino Rampage

Southern Rocks battled their way to a well-earned draw in their Logan Cup match against MidWest Rhinos, saving the match after a Rhinos first-innings that should have all but secured their victory. Batting first after losing the toss, Rhinos spent the best part of two days batting their way to a massive 609/7 before declaring, with three players batting their way past the hundred mark - Brendan Taylor, top-scoring on 185; Vusi Sibanda with 128, and Malcolm Waller with 116. Rocks' bowling simply had no answer for the Rhinos, although Steve Tikolo's 3/82 at least helped limit the damage.

Rocks didn't help themselves in their first innings, either. Tatenda Taibu's 67 and supporting knock of 51 by Sikandar Raza provided the backbone of the innings, but there was precious little support elsewhere as they were bowled out for 287. Graeme Cremer continued his recent good form, taking 5/101. Rhinos enforced the follow-on and left Rocks needing to bat out 4 sessions to save the match, and at the time it would have been a brave man to bet on them managing to do so - but, led by #1 batsman Steve Marillier, who carried his bat until close of play, Rocks managed to upset the odds and deny Rhinos their victory. Marillier score 148 not-out, with Craig Ervine finally finding some form to add 46 of his own as Rock took the slow and steady approach, eschewing risks in the name of keeping their chances alive. And it worked. Ian Nicolson took 3/33 for Rhinos, but the Rhinos attack couldn't find enough holes in the Rocks batsmens' defences before time ran out. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 609/7 decl (147.5 overs; Taylor 185, Tikolo 3/82), Rocks 287 (85.5 overs; Taibu 67, Cremer 5/101) & 282/5 (f/o, 119 overs; Marillier 148*, Nicolson 3/33). Match drawn.

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