Mashonaland Eagles did visiting Kiwi Rob Nicol a favour at the weekend and included the member of the touring New Zealand side in their team for the match against Midwest Rhinos, and immediately reaped the rewards. Whether franchise sides should be helping visiting players out in this way is another thing... After winning the toss and opting to bat, Nicol - opening for his 'adopted' side - put on 102, top-scoring for the match, while fellow overseas player Ryan Bishop (76) and back-in-form Stuart Matsikenyeri (80) helped the side to an imposing 308/5 from their 50 overs. Mike Chonouya took 3/67 for Rhinos, but with his 10 overs going for nearly 7/over he still won't have been too pleased with his spell.
That left Rhinos with a battle on their hands, but rather than fight they meekly capitulated to the Eagles' bowling. Rememberance Nyathi (34) and Riki Wessels (33) put up some fight - the psir added 64 for the 4th wicket - but that was about the only fight from the Rhinos as they were bowled out for 169, handing Eagles a 139-run win that extended their lead at the top of the tournament table to 8 points, with only 3 rounds of the tournament played. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 308/5 (50 overs; Nicol 102, Chinouya 3/67), Rhinos 169 (35.4 overs; Nyathi 34, Garwe 3/39). Mashonaland Eagles win by 139 runs.
A match which, to all appearances, was virtually doomed to be one-sided from the start, went down to the wire thanks to a magnificent century from Tatenda Taibu, returning to play for his home franchise.
Against the odds, he almost took Southern Rocks to an unexpected victory, but with too little support from the middle order he fell at a crucial stage. Then, when the match appeared as good as over, a spirited innings by Tendai Chisoro and some guts from the last pair led to a remarkable tie.
Rocks were without all three of their frontline seamers. Their bowling was to be opened by Robertson Chinyengetere, a useful but part-time seamer, and Bruce Tembo from the second team. Their ordeal was made worse by losing the toss, Rhinos deciding to bat on a warm sunny morning on a flat batting pitch.
Had Rocks held all their catches, they may well have been able to contain the Rhinos innings within reasonable bounds, even with their threadbare attack; as it was, with several chances going down and a few sloppy pieces of work in the field, they had no chance. The visitors may have been a little overconfident as some of their batsmen did not climb in as they should have done. Steve Marillier fell early, making 20 off 22 balls before clipping a ball straight back to the bowler, Tendai Chisoro. Then Vusi Sibanda, not in his best form, skied a catch to mid-off, which was dropped, although the sun was probably in the fielder’s eyes. Gary Ballance, after playing himself in, went in for some big hitting, and survived a chance on the midwicket boundary. He was eventually run out for 46 thanks to some superb work from Taibu. Sibanda made 47, rarely looking at his best apart from a superb straight six.
The innings really took off when Brendan Taylor (55) and Malcolm Waller were together and added 79 in ten overs. Simon Mugava made a quick 24, but the best innings was undoubtedly that of Waller, who chose his shots well in making an unbeaten 86 off 87 balls, with ten fours and a six. The 300 came up in the final over, the grand total being 305 for eight wickets. Roy Kaia removed Riki Wessels and Remembrance Nyathi cheaply, briefly stemming the flood, but none of the other bowlers had much success.
Roy Kaia began Rocks’ seemingly hopeless run chase with a bang, going for his shots and playing them very well. The 50 went up in the eighth over, most of them to Kaia, but soon afterwards he was out, caught at the wicket off Mike Chinouya, for 31 off 33 balls. Immediately the run rate dropped, and soon Ian Nicolson produced a fast and lethal yorker to remove Chamu Chibhabha for 20.
Then came the partnership between Chinyengetere and Taibu that really got a lively crowd of about a hundred excited. Taibu played the leading role, as expected, playing his shots with panache and running like a hare between wickets. He hit two straight sixes and no bowler could tame him. There were a few fumbles in the field and one possible chance that the fielder apparently picked up late. They kept close to the required run rate of over six an over, and clearly Taibu was the key figure – if he went, there may well be nobody else to take the team home.
The 200 went up in the 35th over, with two wickets in hand. The stand was broken at 166, though, as Nicolson returned to produce another fine yorker that bowled Chinyengetere for 58. At 229 for three, 77 were still needed in 12 overs. Shortly afterwards, in partnership with Richie Mutumbami, Taibu reached his century off 92 balls. The scoring rate slowed, though, as wickets fell at the other end, and when almost nine an over were needed, Taibu hit out in desperation, only to loft a catch to deep midwicket for 106 in the 45th over. He faced 102 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes. It looked like game over for the Rocks.
However, Tendai Chisoro began to find the middle of his bat and kept the excitement going to the last over, though, when Southern Rocks still had 11 runs needed. Edward Rainsford bowled well and Chisoro, after missing the first two deliveries, skied the third for a catch. The last pair were hardly expected to do the job, but an edged boundary helped. Five were needed off the final ball – only for Rainsford to bowl a yorker that shot through the gap between bat and pad, evaded the wicket-keeper and went through for four byes to bring about a remarkable tie.
Nicolson’s two wicket-taking yorkers were vital for Mid-West Rhinos, while Simon Mugava did just as vital a job, his three wickets causing the middle-order collapse that cost Southern Rocks the match. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 305/8 (50 overs; Waller 86*, Kaia 2/32), Rocks 305/9 (50 overs; Taibu 106, Mugava 3/47). Match tied.
[Match report via ZC]
Southern Rocks are celebrating their first tournament victory, while Mid-West Rhinos are regretting their poor batting that cost them the match, their fourth loss in a final in two seasons. Malcolm Waller stood almost alone as their team collapsed for 151 all out, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi’s leg-breaks taking three vital wickets in the middle order, and there was no excuse for their batting failure. Southern Rocks kept their nerve and consistent batting from the top order took them to a fine eight-wicket victory.
For both teams this was the final game of the season, so they were not preoccupied with thoughts of the Logan Cup final, as their semi-final opponents had been. Southern Rocks won the toss and, no doubt encouraged by their confident run-chase on the previous day, put Mid-West Rhinos in to bat. This proved to be a good move, as their opponents never came to terms with their batting. The pitch was rather slow but gave the bowlers very little help, so the batting side had only their own inadequacies to blame.
Brendan Taylor again failed, chipping a ball gently up on the leg side, for mid-on to run round and take a diving catch. Both openers were gone for 5, requiring Vusi Sibanda and Waller to dig in, which they did with such care against a good attack that after seven overs the score was only 8 for two. Waller played a beautifully-timed flick over long leg for six, but Sibanda was never fluent, and finally chipped a catch to midwicket after scoring 14 off 38 balls. Riki Wessels top-edged a reverse sweep to the keeper and Remembrance Nyathi fell third ball, both to the leg-spinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi, and at this point Mid-West Rhinos were reeling at 54 for five.
Unperturbed by this lack of support, Waller continued to work the ball around the field in mature fashion, and at last found a reliable partner in Cremer. Cremer did a fine job in keeping the score ticking over, and the pair largely turned the situation around by adding 75 together at the rate of six an over. Finally, though, Waller clipped a low catch to midwicket and departed for an admirable 68 off 82 balls. There was not much left in the batting. Cremer, after batting so well for 37 off 39 balls, tried a foolish reverse sweep to be lbw to Kamungozi, the bowler’s third crucial wicket in the middle order. The tail collapsed and the team was all out for 151, wasting more than three overs of their innings. Mike Chinouya, like Kamungozi, took three wickets, while both Blessing Mahwire and Brian Vitori bowled very well. It was an excellent performance by a team that at the start of the season had been desperately weak in bowling.
With just 152 to win, Southern Rocks in theory could take their time and cruise home, as long as they kept their nerve. The wild card was a storm lurking on the horizon. Perhaps with this in mind, Sikandar Raza played a remarkably risky and fortunate innings, lofting many strokes just out of reach of the fielders and getting away with it. The bowling was good, but was inhibited by having too few runs to back it. Raza’s luck could not last for ever, though, and he was out for 44 off 72 balls, driving a sharp low catch to extra cover off Cremer.
Chibhabha continued where he left off the previous afternoon, batting in mature, sensible fashion, keeping the score moving but without taking risks. He is still not as comfortable against spin as pace, though, and Waller’s off-spin removed him lbw for 27, with the score at 98. But this was the Mid-West Rhinos’ last success. Craig Ervine again saw them home with an unbeaten innings of 42, but this time it was Elton Chigumbura who hit the winning runs, a hammer-blow past mid-on to the boundary. Southern Rocks have made great progress this season, despite failing to win a Logan Cup match, and this trophy will be a worthy tribute to their departing coach Monte Lynch, whose strong disciplined approach may not always have been appreciated but has worked wonders in the performances of several members of his side. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 151 (36.4 overs; Waller 68, Chinouya 3/28), Rocks 155/2 (34.5 overs; Sikandar Raza 44, Waller 1/14). Southern Rocks win by 8 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
The first semi-final of the MetBank Pro40 Championship between Mid-West Rhinos and Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club turned out to be a disappointing contest. Mid-West Rhinos seemed to have lost their chance as they managed to total no more than 200 on a good pitch, but then Mountaineers collapsed dismally against good bowling to be rolled over for 84. Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Solomon Mire all did well with the bat for the winners, while all the bowlers did well, Graeme Cremer finishing with the best result of four cheap wickets.
Mountaineers won the toss and decided to field. Mid-West Rhinos did not make a good start, losing both openers for 19, including Brendan Taylor who, if he was attempting one of his now famous uppercuts, miscued it badly and skied a catch that was well taken by point running backwards. He had never looked fluent in scoring 10 off 25 balls. Then Waller joined Sibanda and a good partnership developed. Sibanda did not always time the ball well and more than once a miscued stroke just evaded the fielders, but he stuck to his task. Waller began rather uncertainly but once he found his touch he played his strokes well and caught up with Sibanda. They had just taken the score past 100 when Sibanda ran himself out, starting off for a single that wasn’t there, near Timycen Maruma in the covers, and was unable to get back in time to beat a good throw. He had made 42 off 61 balls.
Waller reached 54 and then drove over a yorker from Netsai Mushangwe, and two more quick wickets fell. At this point Mid-West Rhinos were looking bad at 134 for six after 31 overs. It was an impressive and powerfully hit 45 off 30 balls from Mire that turned the situation around. Supported well by Cremer, he attacked the bowling with confidence, hitting two fours and three sixes. Off the last ball of the 40 overs Mid-West Rhinos reached 200, with six wickets down. Shingi Masakadza and Maruma took two wickets each, but both only bowled five of their allotted eight overs.
If Mid-West Rhinos had started badly, Mountaineers began worse, even suicidally. Sensible batting should have achieved their moderate target. Jonathan Beukes was given out caught down the leg side off the first ball he faced, while Tino Mawoyo (6) drove outside the off stump and edged to the keeper. Hamilton Masakadza (2) was bowled driving at a full-length ball from Nicolson, while Maruma (6) drove a low catch to mid-off. The four most capable batsmen in the team had gone for 19 runs within four overs, leaving the rest of the line-up to pull off a near-miracle if the match was to be won. The bowling was very good, certainly, but not good enough to excuse such a fall of wickets to poor strokes.
The inexperienced 17-year-old Kevin Kasuza held on gamely, though, and Prosper Utseya helped him take the score to 45 before he mistimed a stroke against Cremer and sent a return catch. Kasuza finally fell at 71, slicing a drive to mid-off, having made much the highest score of 30. His lack of experience was clear but his determination impressed. Apart from a six by Donald Tiripano, the rest of the batting subsided without a whimper for a shameful total of 84. Mountaineers will need to do much better in the Logan Cup final next week. Nicolson and Lewis, who made the early breakthrough, took two wickets each, as did Richard Muzhange, while Cremer did almost as he liked in taking four wickets for 13 runs in seven overs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 200/6 (40 overs; Waller 54, S Masakadza 2/17), Mountaineers 85 (25 overs; Kasuza 30, Cremer 4/13). Midwest Rhinos win by 116 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
The Botswana Cricket Association Select XI and Midwest Rhinos will meet in two friendly matches, to be played on Friday 18 and Sunday 20 March at Kwekwe Sports Club. Arjun Menon, head coach for the Botswana Cricket Association, arranged the fixtures following a recent meeting with Rhinos' coach Jason Gillespie, and feels his side will gain a lot from the experience:
"Our Senior team needs to have more cricket exposure with a top class cricket franchise team and I feel we will get this playing against the Midwest Rhinos."
The games will also give Rhinos some valuable match practice ahead of their MetBank Pro40 semi-final against Mountaineers. Kenyon Ziehl, Rhinos' CEO, was also happy for his side to host the matches:
"Midwest Rhinos are excited once again, to be promoting cricket in Zimbabwe. We consider ourselves as setting the standards on how franchise cricket should operate. Our grounds, facilities and hospitality are unparralled and will hopefully lead to further cricket tours from beyond our borders. We certainly hope that these matches will develop into a regular occurrence and forge a strong relationship between us, with both teams moving forward and gaining much experience from each other."
Squads for the series are:
Midwest Rhinos: Friday Kasteni, Innocent Chikunya (wk), Bothwell Chapungu, Malcolm Waller (c), Rememberence Nyathi, Solomon Mire, Roland Benade, Simon Mugava, Neville Madziva, Taurai Muzarabani, Alex Mahviko, Head Coach: Jason Gillespie
Botswana Cricket Association Select: Karabo Modise, Omar Ali, Akrum Chand, Tshepo Mhozya, Feroze Essack, Mosa Gaolekwe, Segolame Ramatu, Karabo Motlhanka, Waseem Tajbhay, Aslam Chand, Denzil Sequeira, Karan Kapoor, James Moses, Faisal Rana Rasheed, Abdul Patel, Brendon Blamire, Noor Ahmad, Taroesh Trivedi, Kala Rakwadi, Head Coach: Arjun Menon
Matabeleland Tuskers ensured their place in the Logan Cup final with a comprehensive win over Midwest Rhino in the second of this week's Logan Cup matches. With some impressive batting performances powering them on, Tuskers posted 393/8d and 335/3d in their innings, with Paul Horton and Gavin Ewing both scoring 119 in the second. For Rhinos, Riki Wessels saved their blushes in the first innings, scoring a huge 146 before Rhinos were bowled out for 298, but they were left chasing 431 in the second innings, or having to bat out 4 sessions to secure the draw that would have been good enough to get them to the final - but that proved too much of a challenge as they were bowled out for 253 to give Tuskers a comfortable 177-run win. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 393/8d (96.3 overs; Trenchard 84, Nicolson 3/121) & 335/3d (54.5 overs; Horton 119, Ewing 119, Mugava 2/42), Rhinos 298 (88.4 overs; Wessels 146, Meth 3/44) & 253 (67.1 overs; Benade 64, Mboyi 3/47). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 177 runs.
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.
After beating Eagles by an innings in the last round, it was Rhinos' turn to get thumped by a similar margin this week as Mountaineers ran rampage over them in this week. Mountaineers were put in to bat first by Rhinos, and went on to set a first-innings total of 245 - a poor score by most measures. Gary Chirtimuta led the way with 105, while Justin Lewis produced another good spell with the ball to take 6/52 and keep Mountaineers in check.
That was the theory, anyway. But Rhinos followed their decent work with the ball with two thoroughly dismal innings with the bat, posting 61 & 88. For Mountaineers, both Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara too five'fers - one in each innings - while Rhinos managed a top score of just 23 (Neville Madziva in the first innings). A match best forgotten for Rhinos, then, and a result that guarantees Mountaineers their place in the Logan Cup final.
Full scorecard below the cut. Rhinos go on to meet Tuskers in the final round which, depending on the result on the ongoing Tuskers / Eagles match, could be a winner-takes-all playoff for the second final spot - in which case Rhinos will be hoping for a sudden and dramatic improvement in form.
Mountaineers 245 (85.1 overs; Chirimuta 105, Lewis 6/52), Rhinos 61 (27.2 overs; Madziva 23, Tiripano 5/26) & 88 (f/o; 40.3 overs; Mugava 20, Chatara 5/35). Mountaineers win by an innings and 96 runs.
Eagles were trounced by an innings and 70 runs in the first of this week's Logan Cup matches. After collapsing to a paltry 97 all-out on the opening day, with Simbarashe Gupo's 24 being the best of a woeful outing. Ian Nicolson (4/33) and Neville Madziva (3/10) did the bulk of the damage between them, leaving Eagles struggling before they even began.
Rhinos' good form continued with the bat, too, as they posted 365 before declaring with a wicket still in hand, with opener Gary Ballance scoring 120 along with some useful contributions coming from Malcolm Waller (91) and Vusi Sibanda (46). Chad Keegan (4/72) did have some success with the ball for the home side, but with Rhinos taking a 268-run lead into the second innings.
And, as it happened, that was enough of a lead for them not to need to bat again. Eagles did better the second time around, but that 268 turned out to be too much of a mountain for them to climb, posting 198. Douglas Hondo's unbeaten 60* at the bottom of the order showed there was at least some fight in there, but not enough. The result puts Rhinos into second place in the table (pending the result of the ongoing Tuskers v Rocks match), and leaves Eagles still without a win in a season that, outside of the Twenty20 competition, has been truly woeful. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 97 (72.1 overs; Gupo 24, Nicolson 4/33) & 198 (60 overs; Hondo 60*, Mugava 3/72), Rhinos 365/9d (91.3 overs; Ballance 120, Keegan 4/72). Midwest Rhinos win by an innings and 70 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]