Lions – 170-7 in 20 overs (Clive Madande 46, Aliakbar Hamid 33, Johnathan Campbell 21; Tendai Chatara 3/10, Donald Tiripano 2/28, John Masara 1/21)
Westside – 167-9 in 20 overs (Clive Chitumba 68, Kevin Kasuza 37, Tinashe Muchawaya 19; Brad Evans 2/20, Kudakwashe Macheka 2/31, Marshal Takodza 1/15)
Lions won by three runs
Lions have been crowned the NPL T20 Blast champions after they held their cool at the death to clinch a thrilling final against Westside at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
It was indeed a cracker of a game as Kudakwashe Macheka defended eight runs off the last over, which included two run-outs, to give the academy side a three-run win.
Chasing 171 for victory, Westside were sailing along at 155 for four until Lions struck twice in the 18th over, bowled by Nkosilathi Nungu, to seize the initiative.
First, Tinashe Muchawaya, gifted a life the previous ball, holed out a catch to Bright Phiri at third man after hitting 19 from 13 balls, and then a throw by Brad Evans from deep mid-wicket saw opening batter Clive Chitumba run out while attempting a second run.
He had scored a brilliant 68 off 47 balls, with seven fours, and his dismissal left Westside needing 13 runs off the last two overs to claim the silverware.
Evans took the penultimate over which he bowled brilliantly, giving away only five runs and in the process having Victor Nyauchi caught at the wicket for a golden duck.
John Masara and Prosper Mugeri were now charged with the task of making eight runs in six balls, with both teams and the spectators on the tenterhooks.
First ball, Johnathan Campbell flung it from long-on for the wicketkeeper, Clive Madande, to complete a run-out that sent Masara packing for three off three.
The next man in, Vincent Masekesa, stole a single before brilliant work in the field resulted in another run-out, Mugeri departing for one to leave his side requiring five runs off the last three balls.
A dot ball followed, Tendai Chatara got a single, no run came off the final delivery and wild celebrations erupted as Lions completed a perfect campaign in which they have won all their NPL T20 Blast matches!
Earlier, Lions, batting first on winning the toss, suffered an early setback after their big-hitting veteran opener Cephas Zhuwao was sent back to the pavilion for one, caught behind off Chatara’s first ball of the match to make the score three for one in the second over.
Aliakbar Hamid and Bright Phiri then put on 31 for the second wicket before Donald Tiripano separated them in the sixth over, as Phiri – who made 10 off 17 balls – skyed a catch to backward square leg.
After blasting 33 off 23 balls, with one six and five fours, Hamid’s fine innings came to an end and Lions were now down to 57 for three in the ninth over.
Madande and Campbell then mustered a 61-run stand for the fourth wicket, with Madende being the more aggressive as he smote a six and three fours before the pair was parted off the first ball of the 16th over.
Campbell was however the first to depart, caught at extra cover off Tiripano, having faced 18 balls for his 21, which included two fours.
Madande followed him back to the dugout in the 17th over after holing out to wide long-off, but his brilliant knock of 46 off 34 balls, with a six and four fours, had catapulted Lions to 132 for five with 21 deliveries to go.
Chatara came back into the attack to bowl the penultimate over and immediately trapped Evans (10) lbw before he got Tashinga Musekiwa (9) caught at backward point – 148 for seven.
Nungu then produced a brilliant cameo in the last over, whacking Muchawaya for a four past long-off before carting the next delivery over the boundary on his way to 17 not out off just eight balls, as Lions finished their innings strongly at 170 for seven.
Chatara was the standout bowler with three wickets for 10 runs off his three overs, while Tiripano picked two for 28 off his four overs.
In reply, Westside had the worst possible start after Tarisai Musakanda fell for a golden duck off the second ball of the first over, bowled by Evans.
Kevin Kasuza came in to join Chitumba and together they added 46 for the second wicket before, in the sixth over, Macheka had Kasuza caught at mid-off for 37, scored off 28 balls and including seven fours.
By the 13th over, they were down to 99 for four following the dismissals of Sauramba (4) and Tiripano (12).
Chitumba was however still there and blasted 68 from 47 balls to set up a platform from which the supporting cast merely had to hold their nerve to go past the finish line.
Unfortunately for the Mutare-based team, they failed to do so as Lions fought back to clinch the silverware in a nail-biting finish.