Rhinos, Eagles triumph as Women’s T20 Cup roars into life

Rhinos Women – 140-2 in 20 overs (Mary-Anne Musonda 64*, Josephine Nkomo 56*; Nyasha Gwanzura 1/16, Rumbidzai Nire 1/30) Mountaineers Women – 126-4 in 20 overs (Francesca Chipare 25*, Pellagia Mujaji 24*, Chipo Mugeri 24; Kay Ndiraya 1/13, Mary-Anne Musonda 1/16, Kelly Ndiraya 1/23)

Rhinos won by 14 runs

Mary-Anne Musonda and Josephine Nkomo both scored unbeaten half-centuries to inspire Rhinos Women to a 14-run victory over Mountaineers Women in the first match of the inaugural Women’s T20 Cup played at Harare Sports Club on Friday.

Nkomo won the toss and elected to bat first and it looked like a bad idea when Kelly Ndiraya was removed for zero, having faced only five balls, bowled by Rumbidzai Nire.

Ashley Ndiraya did not stick around for much longer, out for three trapped leg before by Nyasha Gwanzura, and on 12 for two, they looked in a spot of bother.

Enter Nkomo, to join national team captain Musonda, and the two showed why their stock in the game is high.

When Nkomo joined in, Musonda was on 12. The two batted comfortably against a youthful Mountaineers, picking boundaries on a regular basis. Musonda made history when she became the first player to get a half-century in the Women’s T20 Cup, her feat coming off 49 balls.

Nkomo soon followed and their 119-run partnership helped them to a healthy 140 for two from their 20 overs. Musonda was unbeaten on 64 while Nkomo finished on 56, also not out. With Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano opening for Mountaineers, the Eastern Highlands side would have felt their chances were high.

She showed pure class, finding the boundary regularly with well-placed shots. Mugeri-Tiripano would howevr go for 24, bowled by Kelly Ndiraya, with her score, which included four fours, coming off 16 balls. Nire and Loryn Phiri stuck around for a 32-run partnership before Nkomo and Musonda combined for a run out as Nire was caught short of her ground on nine. Two balls later, Musonda completed a brilliant caught and bowled dismissal, sending Phiri back to the pavilion for 19.

Captain Pellagia Mujaji then looked to take control of the match, putting her blade about, although she could not find the boundary often enough. She and the more aggressive Francesca Chipare just had to do in the end. Nyasha Gwanzura had fallen in between them, to the third Ndiraya in the team, this time Kay, with Ashley completing the catch.

Mujaji and Chipare both finished unbeaten on 24 and 25 respectively as Mountaineers fell just short, having mustered a total of 126 runs for four from their 20 overs.

Tuskers – 96-8 in 20 overs (Tasmeen Granger 34, Chiedza Dhururu 25, Nomvelo Sibanda 7; Esther Mbofana 4/12, Christabel Chatonzwa 1/7, Precious Marange 1/12). Eagles – 98-1 in 14.5 overs (Modester Mupachikwa 48*, Christabel Chatonzwa 16*; Tasmeen Granger 1/21)

Eagles won by 9 wickets

In the other Women’s T20 Cup match played at Kwekwe Sports Club, Eagles Women got off to a flying start as they beat Tuskers Women by nine wickets. Modester Mupachikwa won the toss and put Tuskers in to bat.

It took six balls for the first wicket to fall, Ellen Tshuma the first of Esther Mbofana’s four victims, out for a duck after facing two balls. Regina Nyathi also failed to score a run, after facing as many balls, Mbofana again, with Leanne Chibunhe completing the catch.

At that point, Tuskers were 13-2 with Chiedza Dhururu on the other end. She would then be run out for 25 – her score was off 29 balls and included three fours. With just 10 overs to go, on 47-3, Tuskers still felt they could put up a sizeable score on the board.

National team star Tasmeen Granger was at the crease but there was nothing she could do about the wickets tumbling on the other end as Tuskers found partnerships hard to come by. Granger would finally go, bowled by Chibhunhe for 34. That score came off 39 balls and included five fours.

Mbofana was the pick of the bowlers and returned four wickets for 12 runs. Christabel Chatonzwa (1/12), Precious Marange (1/12) and Chibunhe (1/25) were the others to take wickets as Tuskers were restricted to 96-8 from their 20 overs.

In response, Eagles hunted down their target steadily, the only wicket to fall being that of Marange for 14, trapped leg before by Granger with the score on 49 for one. Mupachikwa was impressive with 48 off 46, which included four fours and one six.

On the other end, Chatonzwa made 16 off 18 deliveries. Eagles reached 98 for one in 14.5 overs to complete a convincing victory.