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Tuskers Trounced by Rhinos

Matabeleland Tuskers were given a trouncing by Midwest Rhinos in their Pro50 meeting on Saturday, despite a ton from Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing and a useful 507 from Craig Ervine. The rest of the home side's lineup failed to contribute much, leaving them on 227 at the close of the innings - well sub-par on the Queen's pitch. In-form Rhinos captain Gary Ballance took full advantage with an unbeaten ton of his own, with Malcolm Waller continuing his own impressive run of form with 65 not out, as Rhinos reached their target with nearly 10 overs to spare. The result pins Tuskers to the bottom of the Pro50 tournament table, and lifts Rhinos into second place, although they've still got some work to do to catch Eagles. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 227 (49.5 overs; Ewing 106, Rainsford 3/35, Rhinos 228/1 (40.5 overs; Ballance 108*, Dabengwa 1/42). Rhinos win by 9 wickets.

Zimbabwe Women Lose World Cup Qualifier Opener

Zimbabwe's women were on the receiving end of a comprehensive defeat by the Dutch, in their first game of the Women's World Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh. Batting first, Zimbabwe posted 145, but this proved to be nowhere near enough ar the Dutch powered their way to the target in less than 26 overs and for the loss of 4 wickets (2 of them run-outs). That leaves Zimbabwe bottom of Group A ahead of their next match, against Sri Lanka on the 17th (Thursday). Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 145 (50 overs; Nyathi 29, Lanser 2/17), Netherlands 148/4 (25.3 overs; Veringmeier 56, Mazvishaya 1/22). Netherlands win by 6 wickets.

New Zealand Edge Zimbabwe in Test Thriller

Few would have expected this match to end as closely as it did, but right down to the final session on Day Five all three possible results were very much in play. Going back to day one, though, it seems that the Queen's pitch was on course to produce a tame display, as New Zealand, batting first after winning the toss, helped themselves to what the batting-friendly pitch offered to ease to 275/3 at the close, with Martin Guptill (109) providing the backbone of the innings. Day One to the Kiwis.

Day Two saw the first of several swings in fortune, though, as Chris Mpofu worked out how to get some life from the pitch and, taking 4/92 in the innings, did the bulk of the work in bowling the visitors out for 426, a total probably 100 short of what they would have been hoping for. Ray Price took 2/118, while Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza and debutante Njabulo Ncube took one each. In reply, Zimbabwe reached 82/1 (Tino Mawoyo the man out), rounding off a day that Zim coach Alan Butcher called the side's best day of cricket since their Test return. Day Two to Zimbabwe.

Masakadza got Day Three off to a bad start for the hosts, falling without adding to the overnight score. Impressive contributions from Sibanda (93), Waller (72*) and Taylor (50)kept Zimbabwe in the chase, but a tendency to throw wickets away - and a tail that, like New Zealand's before them, didn't add much) saw Zimbabwe bowled out for 313, conceding a 113-run. Two quick wickets before the close of play, though, saw New Zealand end the day on 28/2 - not exactly the start they would have wanted. Day Three, honours even.

Day Four seemed to be reserved for when New Zealand would declare, with any lead over 300 generally expected to be good enough to deny Zimbabwe a chance of victory. Nightwatchman Patel departed early in the day, as expected, but Williamson (68) and Taylor (76) added 119 for the 4th wicket, putting New Zealand in the driving seat - briefly. A spate of quick wickets, as Kyle Jarvis took the first 5'fer since Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket, raised the prospect of the visitors being bowled out - but Ross Taylor called his side back on 252/8, setting Zimbabwe a target of 366 for victory. Some would suggest that with Chris "The Phantom" Martin being the man who did not bat, hanging around any longer wouldn't have made much difference anyway. With four sessions to reach a tempting total, Zimbabwe started off fairly cautiously, but lost Sibanda (13) early and Masakadza (19) to a silly shot on the final ball of the day. Still, despite the late losses, Zimbabwe edged the day.

The final day was straightforward on paper: New Zealand needed 8 wickets to win, Zimbabwe needed 305 runs more, and after losing only 1 wicket in the morning session (Mawoyo, for 52), whispers of "could they?" were beginning to become louder. In the afternoon session, Taylor and Taibu combined to frustrate the Kiwis further, adding another 94 runs for no loss and leaving Zimbabwe at tea requiring 101 runs for victory, with 7 wickets in hand. The departure of Taylor (117) in the first over after tea - some would say well-deserved, after a disputed appeal for a catch in shortly before tea saw Taylor saved by poor-quality replays - sparked the beginning of a Zimbabwean collapse, as the side was unable to form another partnership to see the innings through. From 265/4 at Taylor's departure, they collapsed to 331 all out, 34 short of their target. But to their credit, the side never gave up pushing for the win when many other sides would have battened down the hatches and settled for a draw, a move that seems to have earned them quite a few new fans. They may have lost, but it wasn't for lack of trying - and New Zealand certainly were given a scare they won't forget in a while. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealand 426 (143.3 overs; Guptill 109, Mpofu 4/92) & 252/8d (71 overs; Taylor 76, Jarvis 5/64), Zimbabwe 313 (121.5 overs; Sibanda 93, Vettori 5/70) & 331 (108.1 overs; Taylor 117, Bracewell 5/85). New Zealand win by 34 runs.

[Logan Cup] Mountaineers Finally Off the Mark

Mountaineers finally got a mark in the win column after their very poor start to the domestic season, with a 3-wicket win over Midwest Rhinos in Kwekwe. Early on, it had looked Rhinos' game - batting first after being put into bat, they posted 309, led by captain Gary Ballance (100) and Roland Benade (98) - although the small detail that the rest of the team failed to do much was perhaps a warning sign of what was to come. Shingi Masakadza (5/47) and Tendai Chatara (3/68) did the damage with the ball, with Masakadza adding impressive economy to the mix, conceding only 47 runs from the 25 overs he bowled. In reply, Mountaineers appeared to be in all sorts of trouble early on, collapsing initially to 6/77 before some fight was found, then falling further to 132/9 when wickets 7-9 fell for 21 runs. The 10th-wicket pairing of Kevin Kasuza and Tapiwa Mufudza managed to add another 92 runs, frustrating Rhinos and seeing Mountaineers to a half-decent 224 before Mufudza was finally removed. Kasuza, who had been 3rd man in, ended on an unbeaten 132 and can take a lot of credit for Mountaineers' eventual win.

If their first knock was dominated by two notable knock and not much else, Rhinos' second knock simply featured not much. The usually-reliable Ballance was out for a 15-ball duck, and while Riki Wessels (40) and Simon Mugava (30) tried to bring some respectability to their innings there again wasn't much support from elsewhere in the lineup as Rhinos were knocked over for just 143, leaving Mountaineers with a target of 229 to win, with Tendai Chatara again in the wickets with 5/56. For Mountaineers, it was once again a one-man show, with Ned Eckersley stepping up to the plate this time to lead the innings - after coming to the crease with Mountaineers on 2/33, he marshalled the side through most of the remainder of the chase, scoring 85 before departing with the score on 209, his only real support coming from Timycen Maruma (41). But he'd done his part, and Shingi Masakadza and Donald Tiripano completed the innings to see Mountaineers home. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 309 (103.1 overs; Ballance 100, Masakadza 5/47) & 143 (67.1 overs; Wessels 40, Chatara 5/56), Mountaineers 224 (69.5 overs; Kasuza 132*, Rainsford 3/31) & 230/7 (74.3 overs; Eckersley 85, Rainsford 2/34). Mountaineers win by 3 wickets.

[Logan Cup] Tuskers Humilitate Eagles

Matabeleland Tuskers were all over Mashonaland Eagles in their Logan Cup 4th round match in Harare, which ended this morning. Batting first after winning the toss, Paul Horton led the side from the front, scoring a patient 104 as Tuskers posted 418. Craig Ervine (60) and Keith Dabengwa (59) also made good contributions along the way, while Innocent Chinyoka, Tatenda Manatsa and Nathan Waller each took three apiece for Eagles. A good knock by Tuskers, but no indication at that point of the carnage to follow.

And "carnage" is probably the best word for it as, when Eagles came to reply, the combined efforts of Glenn Querl (6/20) and Bradley Staddon (4/13) ripped through Eagles' lineup with no resistance: only Sikandar Raza (19) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (17) reached double figures, while Eagles' bottom six all departed without scoring, as their side slumped to a humiliating 52 all out, still 366 behind Tuskers' first-innings total. Tuskers naturally wasted no time in enforcing the follow-on, but while this time there was some fight in Eagles, in the form of an early partnership between Raza (28) and Ryan Bishop (22), and some mid-innings fight from Peter Moor (29) and Nathan Waller (23), for the rest of the side it was the same old story. Resuming on 59/2 at the beginning of day three, Eagles then lost 4 wickets without adding to that score before Moor and Waller managed some damage-control; but saving the game was far beyond their abilities and once the departed, 4 balls apart with the score on 112, the end wasn't far away. Eagles were bowled out second time around for 138, giving Tuskers a huge win - the second time they've beaten Eagles by an innings margin - and allowing their Bulawayo rivals to leap-frog them to top spot in the tournament table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Tuskers 418 (109.1 overs; Horton 104, Chinyoka 3/48), Eagles 52 (26.3 overs; Sikandar Raza 19, Querl 6/20) & 139 (50.5 overs; Moor 29, Dabengwa 3/7). Matabeleland Tuskers win by an innings and 228 runs.

[Pro50] Mountaineers Slump to Another Defeat

Midwest Rhinos claimed a 5-wicket victory over Mountaineers, who continue to struggle this season, remaining winless in both the Pro50 and Logan Cup competitions. Batting first, Mountaineers posted 221/8 from their 50 overs, led by Jethro Maudzi's 77 on his List A debut, while Richard Muzhange took 4/45 for Rhinos. That target proved to be no real problem for Rhinos to overhaul, though - Stephen Marillier (40), Rememberance Nyathi (46) and Riki Wessels 48) each played a significant role in the chase, with Rhinos reaching their target with 11 overs to spare. Tendai Chatara led the bowling figures for Mountaineers, taking 3/70, but this was yet another game that Mountaineers will want to forget. Full scorecard below the cut.
Mountaineers 221/8 (50 overs; Maudzi 77, Muzhange 4/45), Rhinos 224/5 (39 overs; Wessels 48, Chatara 3/70). Midwest Rhinos win by 5 wickets

[Pro50] Eagles Maintain Winning Streak

The Mashonaland Eagles juggernaut rolls on, completing a clean sweep over the other four franchises in the first half of the Pro50 programme when they beat Matabeleland Tuskers convincingly at Harare Sports Club. Fine batting by Cephas Zhuwao and Ryan Bishop was followed by a good all-round bowling and fielding performance, so that this match was as good as over halfway through the Matabeleland Tuskers’ innings. Only some fine batting by Steve Trenchard in particular down the order kept the margin of defeat for his team down to reasonable proportions.

The weather was hot and dry, the pitch shaven but with reasonable bounce, and the spectators were conspicuous by their absence. Harare is the only cricket centre where this competition is not well supported by the public, perhaps through lack of marketing. Matabeleland Tuskers won the toss and put Mashonaland Eagles in to bat.

With Sikandar Raza moving down the order, the early Mashonaland Eagles batting was a study in contrasts. Dean Mazhawidza took 27 balls to get off the mark and made four runs in his first hour at the crease. Zhuwao as usual was eager for the big hit, and when he reached 50 Mazhawidza had 6. Zhuwao celebrated with 20 off an over from the experienced off-spinner John Nyumbu, but was caught at deep midwicket for 71, scored off 77 balls with 11 fours and 2 sixes.

By this time Mazhawidza had moved on to 10, but now he began to play more positively, keeping the score ticking over in company with Bishop, before falling lbw to Glen Querl for 39, made off 91 balls. The score was now 154 for two in the 36th over. When Sikandar Raza joined Bishop the pair proceeded to take the bowling apart, hammering 87 in partnership in the space of nine overs. Raza made 47 from 30 balls, departing in the 45th over with the score now 244 for four.

The course of the innings now changed dramatically, as in the final six overs the last seven wickets fell for 34 runs, in a display of frenetic batting against controlled and persistent bowling. Querl, who had been mainly responsible for Mazhawidza’s turgid start, finished with four for 49, while the medium-paced Brad Staddon took a more expensive four for 72. The final total was 278, when 300 had looked a certainty when Bishop and Raza were together.

The Matabeleland Tuskers innings never took off. They had quite a strong team, considering that the national team squad and also Zimbabwe A players were unavailable, but the loss of Charles Coventry through injury was a serious loss. The first six in their order, at least, were players with experience and a good track record, but they never really put it together. Terry Duffin, like his counterpart Mazhawidza, really struggled when he opened the batting; unlike him, he was out for just a single off 15 balls.

Gavin Ewing was in sound form and kept the board moving well; his next partner, Paul Horton from Lancashire, gave him good support and the pair added 45 runs in 12 overs. This was a sound platform for the team to build on, but the building never came. Ewing made exactly 50 off 60 balls before he was out in the 20th over, and with him went Matabeleland Tuskers’ hopes, as the middle order never even fizzled. Craig Ervine might have led the charge, but he was out for 16, and when Adam Wheater departed lbw, the match was as good as over at 116 for six with the required run rate now over eight. The bowling was not spectacular, but it was sound and steady and did the job.

Trenchard does not have a good one-day record, but he fought back well, hitting the bad ball hard, and with Querl in particular he produced Matabeleland Tuskers’ best batting of the match – easier with the pressure off, as victory was now not an option. Querl made 34 off 27 balls, the pair adding 66 in less than seven overs, and in the same over Trenchard was run out for 60 off 43 balls. The innings closed for 240, better than had seemed likely earlier. Mark Mbofana, with three for 26, was the most successful bowler, but they all turned in steady performances. Full scorecard below the cut.
Eagles 278 (50 overs; Zhuwao 71, Querl 4/49), Tuskers 240 (46.1 overs; Trenchard 60, Mbofana 3/26). Mashonaland Eagles win by 38 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Test Match Warm-Up Drawn

Chris Martin and Daniel Vettori took three wickets apiece to lead the New Zealanders to a sizeable first-innings lead in the drawn tour match against Zimbabwe A in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe A were dismissed for 241, 103 runs behind New Zealanders' first-innings score of 344 for 8.

Martin struck an early blow for his team, bowling Hamilton Masakadza in the ninth over with Zimbabwe A on 17 for 1. Graeme Aldridge got the other opener, Tino Mawoyo, in the next over before another run had been scored. There was some resistance from the middle order, though, as Regis Chakabva made 40 and Malcolm Waller 66.

Once Waller was dismissed, however, with Zimbabwe A 183 for 6, the tail folded quickly. Vettori finished with 3 for 35, while Martin took 3 for 31. Aldridge chipped in with 2 for 40 as well.

The New Zealanders sent Vettori to open with BJ Watling, to give him some batting practice ahead of the Test. Vettori scored 32 off 37 balls as New Zealanders made 49 for 0 before the game ended. Full scorecard below the cut.
New Zealanders 344/8 (90 overs; Williamson 86*, Utseya 3/75) & 49/0 (12 overs; Vettori 32*, Watling 16*), Zimbabwe A 241 (70.5 overs; Waller 66, Martin 3/31). Match drawn.
[Match report via ZC]

[Logan Cup] Rhinos and Eagles Fight Out Thrilling Draw

Early in the game, Mashonaland Eagles seemed certain to win this one, but Midwet Rhinos showed plenty of fight as they secured a draw on a game that went down to the final ball and could have gone either way. Rhinos posted 321 in their first innings after being put in to bat, lead by Gary Ballance's 83 and Solomon Mire's 96 - a decent score, but kept in check by an impressive bowling performance from relative newcomer Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa, who took 5/89. In reply, Stuart Matsikenyeri's 144, added to strong contributions from Sikandar Raza (68) and Peter Moor (65) saw Eagles reach 463, a lead of 142.

Gary Ballance again fired strongly for Rhinos in the second innings, scoring 128 (and increasing the clamour for him to make himself available for the national side), while Riki Wessels pitched in with 73 as Rhinos posted 299, leaving Eagles with a target of 158 to win on the final afternoon. Rather than play for the draw, Eagles went for the win, but very nearly came unstuck as Rhinos' bowlers tore their way through the Eagles lineup, Gumunyu-Manatsa again leading the charge with 4/46, and Eagles found themselves facing the final ball of the day requiring 4 to win with just 1 wicket left. There were no winning runs for Eagles, no last-gasp wicket for Rhinos, as the game ended in a draw, but it really couldn't have been any closer, and it's unfortunate for Rhinos that the rules of this year's competition saw them leave with no point for their fighting effort. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rhinos 321 (96.4 overs; Mire 96, Gumunyu-Manatsa 5/89) & 299 (100.2 overs; Ballance 128, Gumunya-Manatsa 4/46), Eagles 463 (126.5 overs; Matsikenyeri 144, Chinouya 4/75) & 154/9 (27 overs; Chakabva 54, Rainsford 3/39). Match drawn.

[Logan Cup] Tuskers Continue Streak with Win Over Rocks

Matabeleland Tuskers' good start to the season continue with an emphatic win over Southern Rocks in the latest round fo Logan Cup matches. Put into bat after Tuskers won the toss, Rocks made hard work of their first innings, with only captain Alester Maregwede (50*) putting on a decent knock as his side were bowled out for 148. Glenn Querl, back from playing for Unicorns in England, took 6/38 while Keegan Meth continued to make a mark for himself with 3/54. In reply, Tuskers posted 253, taking the first-innings point and leaving Rocks with a 105-run deficit to overcome.

Overcome it they did, but while their second innings was better than their first, they still only managed a below-par 204 from their turn. This time at least, Roy Kaia (54) and Mark Vermeulen (38) joined Maregwede (37) in putting up some resistance, but once again the pairing of Meth (5/53) and Querl (3/63) proved too much for Rocks to deal with as their lower order was skittled out. Tuskers, left with a target of 100 to win on day three, had few problems chasing it down, losing only the one wicket (Brian Chari, to a run-out) along the way to a 9-wicket victory that leaves them tied with Eagles on 14 points at the top of the tournament table. Full scorecard below the cut.
Rocks 148 (51.5 overs; Maregwede 50*, Querl 6/38) & 204 (90.1 overs; Kaia 54, Meth 5/53), Tuskers 253 (73 overs; Wheater 76, Muzarabani 3/33) & 100/1 (41 overs; Duffin 49*, Ewing 45*). Matabeleland Tuskers win by 9 wickets.

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