At the halfway stage of this match, after a blistering century from Chris Gayle, it appeared that Matabeleland Tuskers’ ultra-strong overseas contingent had unbalanced the tournament. They seemed on the verge of a fourth large victory out of four.
The tables were turned, however, as magnificent innings from Brendan Taylor (75 not out off 54 balls) and Gary Ballance (67 off 34 balls) put on 105 in nine overs and brought about an amazing victory for Mid-West Rhinos with three balls to spare.
Mid-West Rhinos won the toss and decided to field on a warm, sunny day, the best weather of the tournament so far. It did them no good, however, as although bowling reasonably well they were able to take only one wicket – and the fact that all the batting was done by overseas players serves to emphasize the inordinate effect their batch of overseas players is having on the balance of the tournament. In the second over Tom Smith was brilliantly run out by Edward Rainsford, and this was the only wicket Mid-West Rhinos managed to secure.
The rest of the innings was the Chris Gayle show, with Paul Horton playing a good supporting role. Gayle tore the attack apart at times, although he had periods of devastating hitting and quieter periods where he worked the ball around the field more often. His first great assault was against Rainsford, whom he hit for two sixes in an over. Later Graeme Cremer came under the hammer, three sixes off four balls, the first landing in the television balcony and the third clearing it completely.
Gayle sent up a huge skier over extra cover in the penultimate over, but the fielder seemed to lose sight of the ball and didn’t even attempt a catch. Then, in the final over, he reached his century with a towering six off Richard Muzhange’s fifth ball, and added another six off the final delivery to finish with 109 off 59 balls. He hit seven fours and eight sixes, and the bowlers were helpless against him; the only one to escape severe punishment was the off-spinner Simon Mugava, whose four overs cost 20 runs. Horton finished with 47 not out, and the total 171 for one.
Mid-West Rhinos had an almost impossible target. The experiment of opening with Riki Wessels failed, as he swatted a catch to short extra cover in the third over. Brendan Taylor, knowing his responsibilities, spent 14 balls over his first six runs before swinging a ball from Keegan Meth over midwicket for a big six. Now he went into top gear and found a good partner in Lou Vincent (25). When Vincent went at the end of the tenth over, though, at 62 for two, 110 were still needed off the remaining ten.
Two sixes off three balls from Keith Dabengwa brought up Taylor ’s fifty, off 38 balls. Gary Ballance proved an even better partner, reaching new heights in T20 cricket with a remarkable innings of skill and improvisation. He scored even faster than Taylor , reaching fifty off 28 balls. Such blistering batting left 19 to be scored off the final two overs. With a six from Ballance, before he was caught at mid-on off the final delivery, the 19th over went for 14, needing Taylor to make sure five came off the last over, to be bowled by Gayle. He duly hit the first for four to tie the scores, and pulled the third for another boundary to bring off a remarkable victory. Taylor hit five fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 75, while Ballance’s startling 67 had six fours and four sixes.
The message is clear – Matabeleland Tuskers can be beaten after all. This match has brought the tournament to life. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 171/1 (20 overs; Gayle 109*, Horton 47*), Rhinos 175/3 (19.3 overs; Taylor 75*, Ncube 1/17). Midwest Rhinos win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
A good battle between Mashonaland Eagles and Mountaineers was rather spoiled by the weather, which worked against Mountaineers after they had made a fine start batting first, and even more so when Mashonaland Eagles chased a reasonable target of 140, which rapidly became a difficult one under the conditions.
Mashonaland Eagles followed the invariable practice of fielding when they won the toss, but Mountaineers this time were well prepared for it and came out in fine spirit. Tino Mawoyo led the charge, swatting the first legitimate delivery of the match, from Elton Chigumbura, over cover for six. He was dropped at slip off Kyle Jarvis in the next over, but ran to 16 off 10 balls before departing. With Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza in, the scoring rate was more than ten an over, and the score was 58 for two in the sixth over when Mustard was brilliantly run out by Jarvis for 22 off 12 balls.
The 100 went up in the 13th over, but shortly afterwards Masakadza was caught at long-off and Mountaineers’ problems began. The light worsened seriously, batting became more difficult and rain caused a break of 23 minutes at 120 for five after 16 overs. Resuming afterwards lost their innings more momentum, and although they tried to hit out in the four overs remaining, they only managed a total of 139 for seven. Nathan Waller, with three for 20, was the most successful bowler.
If batting was difficult for Mountaineers, though, it was by no means easy for Mashonaland Eagles, although the light had improved a little. Dirk Nannes struck two devastating blows with his first two deliveries, trapping Rory Hamilton-Brown lbw and then bowling Peter Trego. Stuart Matsikenyeri, who opened with Hamilton-Brown, hit briefly and boldly for 19, and there followed a useful stand of 32 between Ryan ten Doeschate (18) and Regis Chakabva. When ten Doeschate skied a catch, superbly taken by Shingi Masakadza, the score was 58 for four in the ninth over and Mashonaland Eagles were falling slightly behind. But there were still powerful guns to come in Chigumbura, Forster Mutizwa and Andrew Hall.
Another useful partnership, with Chigumbura, was cut short when Chakabva was lbw for 23, attempting a reverse sweep. The required run rate was now almost 10, and quickly worsened as the batsmen struggled in what was rapidly becoming semi-darkness. At 15 overs 59 were needed in five – but all was not lost as long as Chigumbura and Hall stayed together. But then the rain began again, and the match was over, awarded in favour of the Mountaineers. On the whole this was a fair result. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 139/7 (20/20 overs; H Masakadza 36, Waller 3/20), Eagles 82/6 (15.1/15.1 overs; Chakabva 23, Nannes 2/9). Mountaineers win by 22 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]
Matabeleland Tuskers continued their winning streak with a third successive victory, this time at the expense of the hapless Southern Rocks team. After restricting their opponents to 114 off their 20 overs, Matabeleland Tuskers were only nine runs short of victory with nine wickets in hand when rain ended the match and gave them a calculated victory.
The bad luck which has dogged Southern Rocks this season seems to have followed them to Harare. Their first match was rained off when they were in a strong position against Mid-West Rhinos. In this their second match, not having batted yet in the tournament, they lost the toss against Matabeleland Tuskers, who had batted twice, and suffered the disadvantage of being put in to bat.
For four overs they did well, Roy Kaia and Chamu Chibhabha scoring 24 runs together. Then the wheels came off, and stayed off for most of the innings. Both openers and the Kenyan Alex Obanda, who was all at sea against the swing of Keegan Meth, fell in quick succession and the score became 26 for three. After eight overs there were only 29 runs on the board, an almost certain recipe for disaster. The Namibian Shane Burger then hit out briefly, scoring 21 off 20 balls, including a six through the open window of the pressbox.
After Burger was out there was another slump, and when the South African Jon Kent was dismissed at the start of the 18th over the score was 89 for seven. Then the tailenders Hilary Matanga (25 not out) and Tafadzwa Kamungozi (out for 13 off the final delivery of the innings) saved some face for their team with a quick 25 together, so that Southern Rocks reached 114 for eight. There were two wickets each for Meth, Glenn Querl and Tom Smith, all of them cheaply.
When they bowled, Southern Rocks could not have wished for a better start. Chris Gayle, first ball, edged a ball from Brian Vitori that moved away from him and the keeper completed the job, sending him on his way immediately. But it was a false dawn. Well as Vitori bowled, the batsmen Tom Smith and Paul Horton were under no pressure and they were content merely to see him off and then work away at the other bowlers with plenty of time to reach their target. Just after Smith reached his 50, however, a shower of rain arrived and the players had to leave the field with the score at 106 for one. They were unable to return and Matabeleland Tuskers were awarded victory by the deceptive margin of 20 runs. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 114/80 (20/20 overs; Matanga 25*, Smith 2/12), Tuskers 106/1 (16.1/16.1 overs; Smith 63*, Vitori 1/10). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 20 runs (D/L method).
[Match report via ZC]
Another poor batting performance by Mid-West Rhinos batting first left them with a small total to defend against Southern Rocks, but they were saved by the rain, which came on between innings and put an end to the match. The Masvingo team were very disappointed to be denied a likely victory by the weather after a good performance in the field.
Southern Rocks won the toss and followed the virtually obligatory custom of putting the opposition in to bat. Brendan Taylor and Gary Ballance made a fair start but, just as Taylor (11) was getting going he turned a ball from Brian Vitori, back at last after injury, to midwicket and was out when the score was 20. Riki Wessels looked the biggest danger to Southern Rocks as from the start he laid about him with a will, while Ballance played very much second fiddle. Ballance had scored 8 out of 48, having had little of the strike, when he felt obliged to get moving, but was caught by the keeper off a skier.
The most crucial moment came when Wessels, with 34 off 29 balls, threw his wicket away, trying an unnecessary reverse sweep and sending an easy catch; he walked off furious with himself. After this the Mid-West Rhinos innings went into steady decline, although Malcolm Waller (18) and Graeme Cremer (23) began well but failed to finish. The final total was only 131 for seven, with Tafadzwa Kamungozi (two for 17) and Shane Burger (two for 14) returning good figures off their four overs each.
Minutes after the players left the field, the rain started, and soon was so heavy as to make it obvious further play was impossible. Southern Rocks had good reason to feel aggrieved; a victory for them was not assured, but the odds were perhaps better than two to one in their favour. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 131/7 (20 overs; Wessels 34, Burger 2/15), Rocks did not bat. No result - rain.
[Match report via ZC]
The first match of the second day held particular interest as it was contested by the two winning teams of the first day, both teams well capable of winning the tournament. Matabeleland Tuskers won the day, with the former West Indian captain Chris Gayle turning in a star performance to make 61 with the bat and then take four wickets for just 22 runs with the ball. Paul Horton, Craig Ervine, Keegan Meth and Keith Dabengwa also had good mornings as the Bulawayo team triumphed.
Mountaineers won the toss and, as usual, put the opposition in to bat. Matabeleland Tuskers, however, had a cunning plan to counter the tendency of inexperienced local players to collapse when batting first through inability to pace the innings: they sent their experienced overseas players in first. Tom Smith quickly fell, caught behind off the glove off a lifting ball from Dirk Nannes, but then Gayle and Horton shared a fine partnership of 95.
Gayle in particular dominated, although for most of his innings he did not appear to do so, as he just kept the score ticking over regularly through his skill and experience. He had a lucky escape on 18, when he sliced a ball that lobbed gently over point, just out of reach of three fielders running for it. Later he started to open up, hitting Mushangwe for two sixes in an over, including the biggest of the day, straight over the media centre. His 50 came off 33 balls, and when he was finally caught on the midwicket boundary off the deceptive bowling of Chris Harris he had made 61 off 38 balls, including three fours and five sixes. The score was 98 for two after 13 overs.
Horton soon followed for 32, also diddled out by Harris, and Charles Coventry (17) and Ervine (30 not out) took over with some aggressive batting. Ervine for once outshone his partner and hit three sixes, facing only 15 balls. The final total was an impressive 161 for four, although Mountaineers certainly had the batting to challenge this. Harris was the most successful bowler, with two for 21 off his four overs, while Nannes also bowled very well with two for 29.
It promised to be a good finish. Meth quickly struck for Matabeleland Tuskers, having Tino Mawoyo caught at midwicket for 1 off the third ball of the innings, but then came a crucial stand between Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza. They put on 49 in six overs, and Masakadza gave Gayle some of his own treatment, swinging the ball for a huge six over midwicket when the West Indian came on to bowl. But not much else could be done against Gayle. He broke the stand by having Mustard caught at long-on for 15, though there was most credit here to a superb leaping one-handed catch by Meth. Keith Dabengwa took the crucial wicket of Masakadza, stumped for 45 off 34 balls; and the score was 80 for three at the start of the eleventh over, as well balanced as could be.
The 100 came up in the 13th over, but then Gayle struck a double blow that proved to be crucial. He removed Kevin Kasuza for 24 and Shingi Masakadza next ball, leaving Mountaineers at 103 for five and suddenly struggling. 54 runs were needed off the last five overs, and then Ted Eckersley fell right into Gayle’s trap, swinging a shortish ball straight to deep midwicket. Chris Harris (19) fell to a fine return catch by Dabengwa off a powerful drive and, with the situation now next to impossible, the last few batsmen slogged and perished. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 161/4 (20 overs; Gayle 61, Harris 2/21), Mountaineers 142/9 (20 overs; H Masakadza 45, Gayle 4/22). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 18 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
The second match of Day One saw Chris Gayle's arrival on the scene - possibly the most-anticipated appearance of the tournament, but when Tuskers opted to field after winning the toss, Tuskers fans had to wait a little longer to see him in action. Eagles had a disappointing innings, reaching 120/8 for their allotted overs as a stead stream of wickets throughout the innings kept their scoring in check, with Njabulo Ncube (3/27) and Keegan Meth (2/15) both having good spells. Elton Chigumbura top-scored for Eagles with 26, with Andrew Hall (22) and Forster Mutizwa (21) both also chipping in, but as in the first game there were more single-digit scores on the card that double-digit ones.
No such problems for Tuskers, who raced to the target for the loss of 3 wickets, and quickly enough - within 16 overs - to secure a bonus point that puts them on top of the tournament table. There were no fireworks from Chris Gayle on this occasion - 1 wicket and just 10 runs - but Charles Coventry, batting 5th, put on a hell of a show, smashing an unbeaten 44 from just 26 balls, including 2 fours and 4 sixes, to help see his side home. For Eagles, Chigumbura, Trego and Price claimed a wicket apiece in the losing cause. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 120/8 (20 overs; Chigumbura 26, Ncube 3/27), Tuskers 123/3 (16 overs; Coventry 44*, Chigumbura 1/15). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 7 wickets.
Rhinos looked to have the stronger batting lineup on paper but, put into bat after Mountaineers won the toss, they didn't live up to their potential. In-form Gary Ballance lasted just 4 balls before departing for a single run, and while Brendan Taylor (37) and Riki Wessels (31) put on a good 53-run partnership for the 2nd over, that was pretty much it as far as Rhinos were concerned - no other batsmen reached double-figures, as Rhinos limped their way to 115/9. Natsai Mushangwe (3/19), Prosper Utseya (2/20) and Shingi Masakadza (2/27) did most of the damage. The target, 116 at 5.8/over, didn't exactly look hard to get.
And so it proved. While Mountaineers suffered a few setbacks along the way, the combined efforts of Hamilton Masakadza (34) and Chris Harris (39*) guided their side home with 7 balls to spare. Rhinos weren't able to contain the run rate enough to really put pressure on Mountaineers, and it told in the end. After a horrible start to the domestic season, Mountaineers seem to have found their form at just the right time, and are off to a winning start. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 115/9 (20 overs; Taylor 37, Mushangwe 3/19), Mountaineers 116/4 (18.5 overs; Harris 39*, Cremer 1/12). Mountaineers win by 6 wickets.
Kenya rounded off their tour of Zimbabwe with their largest loss yet, as Tuskers warmed up for the forthcoming Stanbic T20 in the best possible way. Kenya managed just 117 from their 20 overs, with Aga's 53 being the only innings of note in a disappointing knock; Keegan Meth took two wickets in the first over, finishing on 2/27 from his 4 overs, while Glenn Querl again showed his talent, taking 3/13 from 3 overs bowled. Tuskers reached the required target with few problems, with 20 balls still remaining when they crossed the line. Openers Horton (43) and Smith (42) led the way, and while there was a small flurry of wickets towards the end of the innings, it wasn't enough to stop them. Full scorecard below the cut.
Kenya 117/6 (20 overs; Aga 53*, Querl 3/13), Tuskers 121/3 (16.4 overs; Horton 43, Patel 2/19). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 7 wickets.
Zimbabwe's poor campaign at the Women's World Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh finally came to an end this morning, with yet another loss, this time to Japan in the 9th-Place playoff match. Japan scored 152 from their innings, with captain Kuribayashi (47) and Yamamoto (38) accounting for most of their score - only one other Japanese player reached double figures - but that still proved too much for Zimbabwe to chase. A mid-innings collapse, from 80/3 to 105/7, put the pressure on Zimbabwe, who were never quite able to recover, and finished their 50 overs still 7 runs short of victory. Full scorecard below the cut.
Japan 152 (49.5 overs; Kuribayashi 47, Charumbira 2/10), Zimbabwe 146/8 (50 overs; Mupachikwa 32, Nakayama 1/15). Japan win by 6 runs.
Another day, another loss for Kenya, this time in the first of two T20s they're scheduled to play against Midwest Rhinos. Kenya, batting first, posted 114 before being bowled out, with only Obuya (44) and Odhiambo (24) making much of an impression; Graeme Cremer marked his return to fitness with 2/17; but once again it was Gary Ballance who starred for Rhinos, scoring 43 off 41 balls - ably assisted by Malcolm Waller, with 33 off 25 - as Rhinos raced to the target with over 3 overs to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Kenya 114 (18.5 overs; Obuya 44, Muzhange 3/15), Rhinos 115/5 (16.3 overs; Ballance 43, Otieno 3/20). Midwest Rhinos win by 5 wickets.