An hour after the start, with Mashonaland Eagles reeling on 34 for five, this match looked likely to be a brief, one-sided contest. It was indeed one-sided – but in favour of the side that had begun so badly. The difference was made by Elton Chigumbura, who scored a fine, disciplined rather than devastating century and totally turned the game around for his team. With Vusi Sibanda and Gary Ballance failing, the limited Midwest Rhinos' batting slithered weakly to defeat, giving the home side the Coca-Cola Pro50 trophy, which they deserved after dominating the league competition. Again Zimbabwe's three franchise cricketing tournaments have been won by three different winners during a season.
Eagles had home advantage for this final, as they had won six of their eight league matches against five by Rhinos, and were four points ahead. Rhinos won the toss, usually a great advantage on the Harare Sports Club ground which traditionally helps the seamers in the first hour, and predictably put the opposition in to bat. They had more reason than usual to hope for assistance from the pitch early on, as there had been much rain during the week and another downpour overnight. There was some movement in the early overs, but for a while Edward Rainsford and Mike Chinouya suffered some frustration. Eagles took the positive step of sending in their two main attacking batsmen, Sikandar Raza and Cephas Zhuwao, to open the batting, rather than saving them for later when the pitch was easier. This seemed to be paying off as they put on 31 in eight overs, although both were beaten at times.
Then Raza (20) fatally shouldered arms to a ball from Rainsford that came back in and knocked out his off stump. This started what has this season been a typical collapse as in the course of three overs the score slumped to 34 for five, with the loss in quick succession of Forster Mutizwa (0), Zhuwao (11), Tino Mutombodzi (0) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (0). It looked like curtains for Eagles, unless something very special happened – and it did.
The rest of the innings revolved around Chigumbura. First he found a good partner in Regis Chakabva (20), who helped him add 58 to steady the innings. Nathan Waller hit an aggressive 26 off 24 balls, including two sixes in an over from Graeme Cremer, but when Raymond Price went for 4, the score was 129 for eight in the 32nd over.
Then came the partnership that was to turn the match. With only Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa, of negligible batting skill, to come, Innocent Chinyoka hung in and played a fine supporting innings. They were to add 91 in an unbroken partnership that took Eagles to an unexpected total of 220 for eight. Chinyoka provided solid support and a few very good strokes while Chigumbura took charge. He never totally dominated the match as he can do, but played with excellent shot selection and judgment, with very few false strokes. He hit just nine fours in what was actually his first century in 220 official (List A) one-day matches. His century came off 112 balls in the penultimate over of the innings, and he finished with 104 not out.
Apart from a few brief lapses, Rhinos continued to bowl well to the end. Despite a poor and expensive start to his second spell, Rainsford finished with three for 35, while there were two wickets each for Chinouya and Richard Muzhange. There was some brilliant fielding at times, although a few lapses crept in towards the end of the innings.
Eagles quickly took charge when Rhinos batted. Vusi Sibanda lifted a firm return catch to Gumunyu-Manatsa off the second ball he faced, while Steve Marillier hit a six over square leg and was then lbw playing across a ball from Chinyoka. Two wickets were down for six runs and it was clear that the destiny of this match in all probability depended on whether Gary Ballance could, under this pressure, play yet another major innings in his very dominant season. Very cautious, Ballance took 12 balls to get off the mark and continued to play with care. But, off his 18th ball and with only four runs to his account, he suddenly snapped, flashed at a wide ball outside the off stump from Chinyoka, and edged to the keeper. 19 for three and game over – or as good as. Unless a near-miracle were to occur, with all due respect to Malcolm Waller, Rhinos do not have the depth in batting to recover from such a situation as this. They have no Chigumbura down the order to work wonders.
Knowing the match was lost, the rest of the top order had little fight to offer. Waller made 10 and Roly Benade showed some spirit to make 20. The Mashonaland juggernaut rolled on, halted temporarily by some good hitting from Cremer (47) and Rainsford (38) after seven wickets had fallen for 60 and Mashonaland Eagles knew they had the trophy in the bag. Chigumbura had the best figures of three for 27, although he bowled too many short balls. The match was over with almost eight overs to spare, and Mid-West Rhinos remain the only franchise which has yet to win a trophy. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 220/8 (50 overs; Chigumbura 104*, Rainsford 3/56), Rhinos 157 (42.1 overs; Cremer 47, Chigumbura 3/27). Mashonaland Eagles win by 63 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Midwest Rhinos secured their place in the Pro50 final (to face Eagles) with a 3-wicket win over Tuskers on Saturday. See the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 81 (21.1 overs; Dabengwa 24, Chinouya 5/35), Rhinos 82/7 (24.5 overs; Ballance 22, Ncube 5/35). Midwest Rhinos win by 3 wickets.
A Mountaineers lower-order collapse ensured victory for Rhinos in their match against Mountaineers. Being a wee bit behind on my updates, I'm going to cheat a little and point you to the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 313/5 (50 overs; Ballance 120, Mujaji 2/51), Mountaineers 260 (44.2 overs; Pettini 71, Muzhange 4/55). Midwest Rhinos win by 53 runs.
Rhinos deflated Tuskers championship win a little with a convincing win in the final round of Logan Cup matched last week. Being a wee bit behind on my updates, I'm going to cheat a little and point you to the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 116 (53.4 overs; Ballance 39, Staddon 4/18) & 296 (104.4 overs; Ballance 62, Ncube 3/62), Tuskers 115 (43.2 overs; Trenchard 41, Muzhange 5/30) & 143 (53.3 overs; Horton 38, Mugava 6/41). Midwest Rhinos win by 154 runs.
The match between Rhinos and Mountaineers fizzled out to a fifth-day draw, thanks mostly to almost a full day's lost play due to rain, although Rhinos would have been the happier of the two sides at the end after posting 421/6 declared in their second innings to remove any chance of a Mountaineers win. Vusi Sibanda (162) and Gary Ballance (116) impressed in that knock, and their performances were really the highlight of the match. Rhinos had posted 253 in the first innings, led by Stephen Marillier's 53, before Mountaineers replied with 313 - more than half of that coming from the bat of opener Mitchell (178). Sibanda and Ballance, though, but on a 2nd-wicket partnership of 232 together, and that was that. Rhinos allowed their remaining batsmen to get some practice in before declaring, after which Mountaineers unenthusiastically batted out the minimum time until they were allowed to concede the draw. With the title already in Tuskers hands after their win earlier in the round, there really wasn't much left to fight for. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 253 (96 overs; Marillier 53, Chatara 5/63) & 421/6d (110 overs; Sibanda 162, Tiripano 4/84), Mountaineers 313 (104.3 overs; Mitchell 178, Madziva 4/70) & 85/2 (29 overs; Mitchell 39*, Cremer 1/41). Match drawn.
The weather denied Midwest Rhinos the chance of achieving the victory they deserved at Harare Sports Club today. At the start of the day a draw had looked very likely, even if the rain kept away, but Mashonaland Eagles approached the day with such a negative attitude that they played into the hands of the visitors, who bowled them out soon after lunch for 165, with Mike Chinouya bowling superbly to take five wickets. But Rhinos were scarcely able to start the chase before the weather struck yet again.
Eagles, who resumed on 82 for two wickets overnight, immediately made it quite clear that, much as they needed the six points for victory to keep up with Matabeleland Tuskers, they were intent on a draw and were not interested in quick runs to try to put pressure on Rhinos in the fourth innings. There was no run in the first twelve minutes, and then Michael Thornely, trying to shoulder arms, edged a catch to the keeper off Mike Chinouya, departing for 32. His overnight partner Ryan Bishop quickly followed, also caught at the wicket off Chinouya, driving outside the off stump for 33, and the score had declined to 89 for four.
The captain, Sikandar Raza, forsook his natural game and dropped anchor, but at the other end there was s steady decline of wickets with little aggressive intent, until the seventh wicket went down for 126. Nathan Waller then came in and played some positive strokes, running up 16 off 22 balls before running himself out looking for an unlikely single. At lunch the score was 161 for eight and Rhinos appeared to have a significant advantage – if the rain kept off.
Raza, 22 off 70 balls at lunch, decided afterwards that with only two uncertain wickets left, he should open out. He hit a superb straight drive for four, but then skied a catch to midwicket for 26; the batsmen crossed and Douglas Hondo was caught at slip off the next delivery for 5, the team being all out for 165. Chinouya deserved his reward of five wickets for 45 runs. Rhinos were set 161 to win in just under two sessions.
The pitch, rather uneven and cracked, helped the bowlers, though not extravagantly, but the greatest threat to Rhinos was the possibility of rain, which had cut short play on each of the first three days, and that would certainly be on their minds. Vusi Sibanda and Steve Marillier gave Mid-West Rhinos a brisk start until Sibanda was out lbw for the second time in the match for the folly of padding up and attempting no stroke to Garwe, for 9.
The skies now began to darken and Eagles looked for ways to waste time. The batsmen for their part seemed to adopt the 'que sera sera' attitude and made no great effort to speed things up. The umpires to their credit for once kept the players on the field for as long as possible, but when a drizzle started in addition to the bad light they had to go. The score was 34 for one off ten overs. Almost inevitably, the drizzle became heavy rain and it was obvious that Rhinos would be denied the victory they deserved. The draw ends their last realistic hope of winning the Logan Cup this season. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 207 (92.3 overs; Bishop 44, Muzhange 4/61) & 165 (69.5 overs; Bishop 33, Chinouya 5/45), Rhinos 212 (61.5 overs; Ballance 101*, Hondo 4/40) & 34/1 (10 overs; Marillier 12*, Garwe 1/13). Match drawn.
[Match report via ZC]
Eagles suffered the intervention of rain in their run-chase against Rhinos in the other Pro50 match of the weekend, but it came too late to save Rhinos, with Eagles just managing to complete the 20 overs required to ensure a result. Rhinos had posted 189 earlier, with their top order suffering an uncharacteristic collapse before Roland Benade (67), Nyasha Mayavo (38) and Simon Mugava (31) dug in in the lower order to bring some respectability to the score. Trevor Garwe and Nathan Waller did the damage for Eagles, taking 3 wickets apiece. Eagles openers Cephas Zhuwao (58) and Simbarashe Gupo (30) led Eagles reply, with both falling shortly before the rain intervened - but with the Duckworth-Lewis calculations setting Eagles a target of 61, they were well ahead and easily took the points. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 189/9 (50/50 overs; Benade 67, Garwe 3/24) ,Eagles 102/2 (20/20 overs; Zhuwao 58, Muzhange 1/34). Mashonaland Eagles win by 42 runs (D/L method).
Another match, another loss for Southern Rocks, this time a 7-wicket Pro50 loss to Rhinos. Put into bat, Rocks scored 211, with Richmond Mutambami's 82 forming the backbone of the innings. Robertson Chinyengetere added 30and that was about it as far as notable knocks went. Richard Muzhange and Simon Mugave took three apiece for Rhinos, whose chase of the target was never in doubt - the top three all scoring 50+, including 58 from in-the-doghouse Vusi Sibanda, and 77* from Gary Ballance. Rhinos reached the target in the 43rd over, with just 3 wickets lost. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 211 (48.3 overs; Mutumbami 82, Muzhange 3/30), Rhinos 212/3 (42.2 overs; Ballance 77*, Matanga 2/43). Midwest Rhinos win by 7 wickets.
Played six, lost six - Southern Rocks' woeful run in the Logan Cup continued this round, this time to a 7-wicket defeat at the hands of the Midwest Rhinos - although this match at least made it into the fourth day. It's an improvement over the last round's two. Batting first, Rocks posted 178, with Hilary Matanga (63) doing the bulk of the work, while Ed Rainsford found some form to take 5/35 for Eagles. Brian Vitori similarly did well with the ball for Rocks, taking 5/90 but with precious little support from his team-mates, he couldn't keep a lid on Rhinos, who went on to score 444/8 before declaring, with Riki Wessels and Gary Ballance both claiming tons along the way.
Rocks then needed 266 to at least make Rhinos bat again, and given their form this season you maybe wouldn't have bet on them to reach that target, but led by Richmond Mutumbami's 92 they made a good run of their second innings, managing to post 313 - Graeme Cremer took 5/107 along the way - but with that leaving Rhinos a target of just 48, the end wasn't long in coming. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 178 (68.2 overs; Matanga 63, Rainsford 5/35) & 313 (93 overs; Mutumbami 92, Cremer 5/107), Rhinos 444/8 decl (112.5 overs; Wessels 133, Ballance 124, Vitori 5/90) & 48/3 (10.5 overs; Waller 34*, Vitori 2/19). Midwest Rhinos win by 7 wickets.
Eagles met Rhinos in the first playoff match of the Stanbic T20 this morning, with the price of failure being elimination from the tournament. Eagles were put in to bat after Rhinos won the toss, and got off to a storming start as openers Ryan ten Doeschate and Stuart Matsikenyeri put on a 109-run partnership off just 56 balls before ten Doeschate departed for 63; Matsikenyeri went on to score 89. Richard Muzhange led the Rhinos' bowling, taking 3/24 at an economy of 6/over - a rare bright spot in an innings that saw Cremer, Benade and Mugava each smashed around at over 10/over. With the openers having done the hard work, there wasn't much to write home about for the other batsmen - but with Eagles closing on 195/5, it was clear that Rhinos would have their work cut out for them.
Rhinos were under the cosh from then end of the 4th over, when "captain fantastic" Brendan Taylor departed for 24. The Rhinos middle order failed to come to the party, with numbers 3-7 all failing to reach double figures; barring some resistance by Riki Wessels (42) at the top and a short-lived fightback by Simon Mugava (13) and Shaun Tait (26) in the tail, the result would have been complete embarassment for the Rhinos; as it was they were still bowled out for 142, handing Eagles a 53-run win and a place in tomorrow's playoff. Peter Trego led the good work by Eagles' bowlers, taking 4/27. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 195/5 (20 overs; Matsikenyeri 89, Muzhange 3/24). Rhinos 142 (18.2 overs; Wessels 42, Trego 4/27). Mashonaland Eagles win by 53 runs.