Southern Rocks versus Mountaineers was the second match of the day, and in the end was far closer and far more tense than might have been expected at the half-way point. Batting first after winning the toss, Mountaineers powered their way to 190/2 from their 20 overs, easily the highest team total of the tournament so far, with Hamilton Masakadza staying at the crease for the entire innings and amassing 102 runs (from 56 balls faced) along the way, before finally holing out to Tafadzwa Kamungozi on the final ball. Add in a determined 71 from Tatenda Taibu, and it looked as though Mountaineers had the match all sewn up. Rocks weren't going to give up without a fight, though, and Chamu Chibhabha got their innings started at a cracking rate of 13/over. That wasn't sustainable, but Chibhabha (70) and #3 Steve Tikolo added 107 for the 3rd wicket in 70 balls, keeping the side within a shout of their target, before Chibhabha finally fell to the bowling of Prosper Utseya. Tikolo (65) kept Rocks on track from there, but the wickets began to fall around him, and the loss of his own wicket with 4 balls remaining in the match and 9 runs still required probably called time on Rocks' chances. Craig Ervine fell 1 run and 2 balls later, leaving Alester Maregwede and Ian Harvey to finish the job - and they fell an agonising 2 runs short of victory, closing their innings on 189/6. Still, it was a determined effort from the side that is generally considered the weakest in the tournament, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them spring a few surprises yet. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 190/2 (20 overs; H Masakadza 102, Mahwire 1/18), Rocks 189/6 (20 overs; Chibhabha 70, Chitara 1/20). Mountaineers win by 1 run.
Southern Rocks trounced Matabeleland Tuskers in the second match of the day to leave the day to leave the tournament table perfectly poised, as Andy Blignaut's magic failed to strike twice. Rocks won the toss and opted to bat, after rain delayed the start of play (although thankfully not by enough to shorten the match). The side got off to a blistering start, thanks to a 104-run opening partnership between Chamu Chibhabha (82*) and Sikandar Raza (53). Once Raza departed, clean-bowled by Sean Williams (2/16), the wickets began to fall regularly, but by then the heavy lifting had already been done, and Rocks finished on an impressive 166/4. Tuskers' reply got off to a bad start with the loss of Gavin Ewing on the 2nd ball of the innings, while fellow opener Mark Vermeulen soon followed. Sean Williams was the only player to manage a decent innings, scoring 39, and by the time Andy Blignaut departed for just 4, batting at 6th, the writing was on the wall. Tuskers did manage to see out their 20 overs, but finished well behind the target on 123/9. That gave Rocks a 43-run victory, and left all six sides in the competition tied on 2 points each and separated only by net run rate - although with Tuskers having played more matches than any other side and already being anchored to the bottom of the table, their prospects are already looking bleak. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 166/4 (20 overs; Chibhabha 82*, Williams 2/16), Tuskers 123/9 (20 overs; Williams 39, Ireland 3/25). Rocks win by 43 runs.
Namibia's Desert Vipers stamped their authority on the Southern Rocks, and marked themselves out as one of the sides to watch in the competition, with a convincing 46-run victory in today's first match. Vipers were put into bat after Rocks won the toss, and while Rocks made an early breakthrough with the wicker of opener Raymond van Schoor with the score on 3, most of the rest of those who got to the crease made useful contributions, pushing the side to 152/5 for their 20 overs. In reply, Rocks went all to pieces, despite their latest influx of new talent, managing just 106 before being bowled out. Alester Maregwede top-scored with 23, but it was Tony Palladino who truly marked the difference between the two sides, taking 4/21 from just 3.3 overs to ensure that Rocks' woeful season continues. The margin of victory was enough to leave Vipers top of the table on Net Run Rate at the end of the day, while Rocks were left languishing at the bottom. Full scorecard below the cut.
Vipers 152/5 (20 overs; Williams 50, Kamungozi 1/22), Rocks 106 (18.3 overs; Maregwede 23, Palladino 4/21). Vipers win by 46 runs.
Midwest Rhinos battled out a draw with Sean Ervine.. er, Southern Rocks to keep their chances of a place in the Logan Cup final alive - just. It was a match that was dominated by a few key players, most notably returning 'rebel' Sean Ervine, who scored a career-best 208 & 160 with the bat, going on to take 3 wickets in the match. Rhinos won the toss and opted to bat, and put on a disappointing 267 before being bowled out, with Malcolm Waller's 124 being the one performance to impress. Blessing Mahwire took 3/26 for Rocks. In reply, Rocks got off to a very shaky start, being 4/13 at one point, before the Ervine brothers joined forces at the crease to add 178 for the fifth wicket. Craig was eventually out for 81, while Sean went on to 208. With the best score beyond the brothers being a paltry 26 from Tendai Chisoro, it really was Ervines versus Rhinos.
Facing an unexpected first-innings deficit, it was Rhinos' turn to step up to the plate, and with a little help from Brendan Taylor, who one-upped Sean Ervine by scoring 217, they did. Innocent Chikunya chipped in with 75, with Graeme Cremer reaching 53 not-out before the side declared on 443/5. That left Rocks chasing 337 to win, a target that the side threw themselves into in much the style of a Twenty20 match. While the third-wicket partnership of Steve Marillier and Sean Ervine was at the crease, there even seemed to be a chance for an unlikely Rocks win, but Marillier's removal with the score on 152 was the beginning of a procession of wickets, and also saw the run-chase drop well below the required rate. Ervine finally went for 160, and the match drew to a close 2 overs later with Rocks still 59 runs short.
That leaves Mountaineers in the driving seat for the remaining spot on the final, with Rhinos needing to beat them next week, and out-score them on bonus points, to claim the place. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 267 (77.5 overs; Waller 124, Mahwire 3/26) & 443/5 decl (94 overs; Taylor 217, S Ervine 2/63), Rocks 374 (105 overs; S Ervine 208, Cremer 5/125) & 278/8 (82 overs; S Ervine 160, Muzhange 3/58). Match Drawn.
Another poor outing by Southern Rocks saw Mashonaland Eagles claim an innings victory, ensuring that their lead at the top of the Logan Cup table is now essentially unassailable - the side enjoys a 25-point lead over second-placed Mountaineers with both sides having only one match remaining. Rocks batted first after Eagles won the toss and opted to field, but managed only 188 - Hilary Matanga led with 38, while Elton Chigumbura took 4/49. Eagles then got their chance, and posted a modest 275/9 in reply before declaring, with Chigumbura scoring 78. Tanyaradzwa Munyaradzi took 4/58 for Rocks. Eagles total wasn't anything spectacular, even by the standards of the Logan Cup - but an abject collapse by Rocks in their second innings made sure that there was no need for Eagles to bat again. Rocks added just 68 - Chamu Chibhabha (21) was the best of the bunch and one of only three players to reach double figures. Ray Price led the carnage for Eagles, taking 4/21, as Rocks continued bumping along at the bottom of the table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 188 (72.1 overs; Matanga 38, Chigumbura 4/49) & 68 (56 overs; Chibhabha 21, Price 4/21), Eagles 275/9 decl (73.4 overs; Chigumbura 78, Munyaradzi 4/58). Eagles win by an innings and 19 runs.
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.
Another match with only pride to play for, and for Tuskers it rounded out a series they would probably rather forget as they fell to yet another loss. They at least won the toss, opting to put Rocks in to bat. The Masvingo side posted a decent 231/7, lead by Steve Tikolo's rapid-fire 94 (scored off 84 deliveries). Some decent support came from Richmond Mutambami (43) and Alester Maregwede (38), but there was much in the way of useful contributions past that - although it would ultimately prove to be enough. Chris Mpofu led the way for Tuskers' bowling, taking 3/27.
Tuskers' innings was a string of starts that failed to go anywhere, other than Dion Ebrahim's 57, but for most of the innings Tuskers were doing enough to keep within reach of the total they were chasing. A string of wickets towards the end of the innings, though, saw them fall just short of their target - Chris Mpofu was lsat man out, with Tuskers just 8 runs short of their target. For Rocks, Blessing Mahwire, Thomas Odoyo and Chamu Chibhabha took 2 wickets apiece. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 231/7 (50 overs; Tikolo 91, Mpofu 3/27), Tuskers 223 (49.5 overs; Ebrahim 57, Mahwire 2/31). Rocks win by 8 runs.
In the run-up to this match, the Tuskers back-room team were bullishly telling people that they would find form after their Christmas break - and sure enough, that seems to have happened, as they pulled off an innings victory over the hapless Southern Rocks in Bulawayo. Tuskers won the toss on day one and put Rock into bat, a decision that paid early dividends - Rocks quickly fell to 23/3 as Tendai Machiri, Erick Chauluka and Robertson Chinyengetere departed without making much impact, with regular wickets falling thereafter. Opening batsman Alester Maregwede formed what backbone the innings had, putting on 42, with the only useful support coming from captain Steve Tikolo (33). Rocks went on to be bowled out for 149, with Keegan Meth (3/14) and Chris Mpofu (3/31) doing most of the damage.
If Rocks were hapless in their innings, Tuskers were imperious in theirs - of the six batsmen to have a knock in their innings, only one failed to pass 50 (opener Keith Dabengwa on 20) as the side raced to a huge 456/5 before declaring. Charles Coventry's unbeaten ton was the best of the bunch, but Greg Strydom (87), Dion Ebrahim (82), Gavin Ewing (71) and Sean Williams (71) all played their part. Steve Tikolo was again one of the few Rocks players to make any sort of impact, leading Rocks' bowling figures with 3/105. That wasn't going to be enough to save the side, though, as Rocks were left facing a 307-run mountain just to make Tuskers bat again.
They couldn't climb that mountain, either - although Rocks' second innings was at least better than the first. The story was much the same as the first, with two knocks of note (Tendai Machiri's 79 and Steve Tikolo's 61) saving blushes while the rest of the side failed to compete. With Erick Chauluka absent hurt they were also one man down for the innings, which drew to a close with the side still 87 short of getting Tuskers back to bat, thanks largely to John Nyumbu's 4/29. Not a good day for the Rocks, then, but the gloom is lifting in the Tuskers camp. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 149 (56.5 overs; Maregwede 42, Meth 3/14) & 220 (75.2 overs; Machiri 79, Nyumbu 4/29), Tuskers 456/5 decl (93.4 overs; Coventry 100*, Tikolo 3/105). Tuskers win by an innings and 87 wickets.
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.
Midwest Rhinos beat Southern Rocks by a convincing 8 wickets in the first of two Faithwear matches today, and in doing so left the door to the semi-finals open for Tuskers, who were still in with a shout of winning their own match in Harare when Rhinos claimed victory. A wet outfield had delayed the start of play enough for the match to be reduced to twenty overs per side, and it was Rocks who were given the chance to set the pace of play after being put in by Rhinos. It was only the Kenyan pair of Steve Tikolo (36) and Thomas Odoyo that put up much in the way of fight for Rocks, though, as a lower-order collapse saw the side restricted to 131/8 from their 20 overs, with five batsmen failing to reach double figures. Wickets for Rhinos were fairly evenly-spread, with Ed Rainsford, Taurai Muzarabani and Graeme Cremer all claiming two apiece.
Requiring 132 to win, then, Rhinos set about their task with a reasonable dose of caution, particularly after the early loss of Bothwell Chapungu, who hit his own wicket while on 7. Riki Wessels (74*) and Brendan Taylor (32) then began a well-paced innings that edged Rhinos slowly but surely towards their target. The loss of Taylor with the score on 103 then brought Vusi Sibanda to the middle, who saw the innings out with Wessels as the target was reached with 5 balls to spare.
No change in the league standings as a result of this match, but a morale-boosting win for Rhinos ahead of the semi-final that they're now assured of a place in. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 131/8 (20/20 overs; Tikolo 36, Muzarabani 2/19), Rhinos 132/2 (19.1/20 overs; Wessels 74*, Machiri 1/8). Rhinos win by 8 wickets.