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]
Southern Rocks may be an embarassment in the 4-day game, but their one-day season hasn't been quite so bad - their win over Mountaineers in the final round sees them finish a respectable 3rd in the table (let's hear it for mid-table mediocrity), while leaving the usually-mighty Mountaineers languishing in last place. See the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 134 (29.4 overs; Maruma 72, Matanga 2/13), Rocks 135/9 (38.1 overs; Chibhabha 39, Mushangwe 4/41). Southern Rocks win by 1 wicket.
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 dismal innings by Eagles made life easier for Tuskers in this match than it should have been - although Tuskers had their own batting woes to deal with. See the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 144 (46.2 overs; Garwe 40, Ewing 3/8), Tuskers 145/5 (37.3 overs; Chari 47*, Chinyoka 2/42). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 5 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.
Southern Rocks finally got a number in a column other than 'L', with a draw in their rain-affected match against Mountaineers - although it was purely the rain that prevented another thumping loss. For more, see the Cricinfo match report. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 412/9d (155 overs; Maruma 143, Tiripano 102*, Matanga 3/52), Rocks 145 (51.5 overs; Chinyengetere 28*, Tiripano 3/13) & 114/6 (f/o; 62 overs; Masvaure 20, Chatara 3/16). Match drawn.
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.
Mashonaland Eagles proved to be the whipping boys for Matabeleland Tuskers, as Tuskers romped to the Logan Cup title with an innings-and-30-runs victory in Bulawayo this week. The win wasn't without some drama - Tuskers suffered their own batting collapse in their one innings - but the combined efforts of Terrence Duffin (104) and Glenn Querl (combined 6/70 in the match) saw the home side home.
Eagles posted 181 in their first knock, but after Tuskers reached 281 - a 100-run innings lead - they were skittled out for a woeful 70 in the second, with Sikandar Raza (29) and Nathan Waller (11) being the only batsmen to reach double figures. It's not the first such collapse for Eagles this season, either, which must surely set alarm bells ringing for what is traditionally the strongest side on the domestic circuit.
That's to take nothing away from Tuskers, though, who under coach Davy Houghton have now won the Logan Cup for two seasons straight, and did so this season with a game spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 181 (91.5 overs; Gupo 41, Querl 3/45) & 70 (38.4 overs; Sikandar Raza 20, Jones 4/14), Tuskers 281 (82 overs; Duffin 104, Mutombodzi 5/88). Matabeleland Tuskers win by an innings and 30 runs.
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]