Mountaineers book place in Pro50 Championship final
Mountaineers – 227 all out in 39.3 overs (Ben Compton 110, Tony Munyonga 25, Timycen Maruma 25; Daniel Jakiel 2/42, Malcolm Chikuwa 2/65, Tanaka Chivanga 1/25)
Alliance Health Eagles – 187 all out in 37.1 overs (Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 39, Shoun Handirisi 32, Tapiwa Mufudza 25; Victor Nyauchi 3/21, Kevin Kasuza 2/14, John Masara 2/28)
Mountaineers won by 40 runs
Mountaineers have secured their place in the Pro50 Championship final thanks to a fine century from Ben Compton, backed by the incisive pace bowling of Victor Nyauchi, as they defeated Alliance Health Eagles by 40 runs in this Pro50 Championship match at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.
The start had to be delayed until the field had dried out after the heavy rain overnight, and the match had to be reduced to 40 overs per side.
Eagles, according to tradition at their home ground, won the toss and put their opponents in to bat.
For Mountaineers, 25 seemed to be a magic number, as three of their players were out for 25, and only one of the others even reached double figures.
The only player to crack the 25 barrier was Compton, who opened the innings with Kevin Kasuza, the pair putting on 49 together until Kasuza was out lbw to Brad Evans – for 25.
Kudzai Sauramba was run out for 17, and then Timycen Maruma and Tony Munyonga in turn were out for 25, both scored off 24 balls.
Each shared a useful partnership with Compton, the largest of these being 50 for the third wicket with Maruma.
Compton went on to score a fine century before being the sixth man out in the 37th over, with the score at 215 – he faced 109 balls and hit 10 fours.
The rest of the wickets fell as the tail tried in vain to attack the bowling in the dying overs.
The last six men in scored only 15 runs between them, and two of them were run out.
With three balls to spare, Mountaineers were bowled out for 227.
There were two wickets each for Daniel Jakiel and Malcolm Chikuwa, but Tanaka Chivanga and Tapiwa Mufudza were more economical, going at little over four runs an over each.
Eagles found themselves unexpectedly in trouble as they chased their target, for their first three wickets went down for 27: Chamu Chibhabha was run out for four, Kudzai Maunze caught off Nyauchi for six and the same bowler also removed Marshal Takodza for seven.
Tinashe Kamunhukamwe was playing a steady innings and he was now joined by the former Tuskers wicket-keeper Shoun Handirisi.
The two fought hard to build a valuable fourth-wicket partnership of 64, taking the score to 91 before John Masara removed Kamunhukamwe for 39.
Handirisi went soon afterwards for 32 – 106 for five – which left Evans to play the leading part, helped by the later batters.
He found a valuable partner in Mufudza, and the pair by attacking play took the score to 163 before Nyauchi dismissed Evans for 25.
The score was now 153 for seven after 32 overs, which left three wickets to score 75 runs in the final eight overs in fading light, an unlikely situation once Evans had gone.
Mufudza did his best before he was out for the fifth score of 25 of the day, but however much the later batters tried, the task was beyond them.
Eagles were all out for 187 after 37.1 overs, and Mountaineers thus won by 40 runs.
The bowling of Nyauchi played a major part in deciding this match, as he took three vital wickets at important times, despite bowling only six overs, and he finished with figures of three for 21.
Mountaineers will face the first-placed Southern Rocks in the Pro50 Championship final on a date yet to be confirmed, but first they have to complete the round-robin stage on Friday by again taking on Eagles who themselves will be eager to finish off their List A campaign on a high.
2021/22 PRO50 CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS TABLE
*Southern Rocks docked one point and Rhinos three points for slow over rate