Eagles beat Mountaineers in final to lift T20 silverware
Mountaineers – 105 all out in 20 overs (Tendai Chatara 19, Kevin Kasuza 17, Shingi Masakadza 9; Richard Ngarava 2/13, Brad Evans 2/14, Tapiwa Mufudza 2/22)
Alliance Health Eagles – 107-8 in 19 overs (Wessly Madhevere 32, Matthew Welch 29, Kudzai Maunze 16; Victor Nyauchi 3/24, Shingi Masakadza 2/9, Wellington Masakadza 2/19)
Alliance Health Eagles won by two wickets
A fighting seventh-wicket partnership of 40 runs between Wessly Madhevere and Under-19 batter Matthew Welch did most to bring Alliance Health Eagles a narrow two-wicket victory against Mountaineers in the Domestic T20 Competition final at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
After Mountaineers won the toss and chose to bat first, Richard Ngarava opened the bowling for Eagles and struck in the first over, producing a superb delivery that bowled out PJ Moor.
Spencer Magodo joined Kevin Kasuza, who was hitting the ball very well, and the score reached 32 before the innings began to self-destruct.
The collapse started when Kasuza took a wild heave across the line to a straight ball from Brad Evans and was bowled, having scored 17 off 20 balls.
Without addition, Magodo was run out by a superb throw and direct hit from Madhevere on the leg side.
There followed some suicidal batting, mostly through slogging at straight deliveries.
Mountaineers desperately needed one of their leading batters to consolidate and keep the score ticking over without resorting to risky big shots, but such a man could not be found.
Briefly Shingi Masakadza and Clive Chitumba played sensibly together, but Chitumba was very well run out by Chamu Chibhabha for six, while Masakadza was caught off a leg-hit for nine.
Nine wickets were down for only 71 runs in the 14th over, and the whole innings and match appeared to be an imminent disaster.
However, Tendai Chatara and John Masara got together and showed how to do it, playing the bowling on its merits with no extravagant strokes and, apart from a six and a four from Chatara, working the ball around the field sensibly.
They put on 33 together in less than seven overs, taking the score past the 100 mark, before Chatara was out for 19, the highest score of the innings, going for a hit off the final delivery.
Masara was not out with eight, and thanks to these two Mountaineers managed to total 105 runs.
This gave their innings a degree of respectability without making it look very competitive, unless Eagles batted equally badly.
That very nearly happened.
All five bowlers used took at least one wicket, with two wickets each for Ngarava, Evans and Tapiwa Mufudza.
Eagles had a small total to get, but off the second ball of the innings, before a run had been scored, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe tried to tuck a straight ball from Wellington Masakadza to the leg side and was bowled.
At 16, Chamu Chibhabha (6) aimed a hook at a bouncer from Victor Nyauchi and was out caught at the wicket.
Kudzai Maunze, who opened with Kamunhukamwe, began his innings well, and looked to be continuing his run of good form when he hit a ball from Nyauchi uppishly on the leg side to be caught at square leg for 16, making the score 30 for three in the sixth over.
Marshal Takodza was next to go – he had not scored when he jabbed his bat at a ball from Shingi Masakadza outside his off stump and played it on to his stumps.
At 32 for four Mountaineers were now back in the game with the chance of a victory.
Evans (9) and Hamid Ali (1) were both out to rather weak strokes, and the score was a dangerous 57 for six when the last recognised batter, Welch, came in to join Madhevere, who was batting well.
These two almost took Eagles home, as both showed by far the best batting of the day.
They added 40 valuable runs together, and the score was 97 when Shingi Masakadza produced a fine delivery that moved in and trapped Welch lbw for a very good 29.
Madhevere looked set to take Eagles home, but with the team score on 101 in the 18th over and his own on 32, he threw caution to the wind and tried to slog a four through midwicket from a straight ball by Nyauchi, and paid the price – bowled out.
This left the last two wickets five runs to make for victory, and in the penultimate over Chatara caused Mufudza great trouble with his lifting deliveries.
Mufudza managed to slash away two runs to third man, and then finally chopped away a four on the leg side to clinch a narrow victory off the final delivery of the over.
Nyauchi had bowled well to take three wickets for 24 runs, while there were two wickets each for the Masakadza brothers.
Madhevere was named the player of the match.
The batter and bowler of the tournament accolades went to Prince Masvaure of Rhinos and Nyauchi respectively.
Roy Kaia of Southern Rocks scooped the player of the tournament award.