Rhinos, Mountaineers to meet in Pro50 Championship final

Rhinos – 214 all out in 47.4 overs (Takudzwanashe Kaitano 93, Brandon Mavuta 36, Neville Madziva 36; Nkosana Mpofu 3/28, Ainsley Ndlovu 2/24, Allan Chigoma 2/37)

Tuskers – 164 all out in 42.3 overs (Brian Chari 61, Ainsley Ndlovu 34, Tanunurwa Makoni 23; Brandon Mavuta 4/29, Johnathan Campbell 2/29, Prince Masvaure 2/38)

Rhinos won by 50 runs

Rhinos sealed their place in the Pro50 Championship final after defeating the early tournament leaders, Tuskers, by 50 runs in their last round-robin match at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Sunday.

The main architects of the victory were their opening batter Takudzwanashe Kaitano, without whose 93 runs they would probably not have won, and the leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta, who broke a dangerous partnership and finished off the Tuskers innings.

Tuskers put Rhinos in to bat on winning the toss, and immediately found Kaitano in brilliant batting form.

Prince Masvaure gave him good support as the pair plundered 68 runs off the first eight overs before Masvaure, trying to give his aggressive partner the strike, called for a quick single to extra cover and was run out by Ainsley Ndlovu.

This began a middle-order slide, as Kaitano held firm but his next four partners scored only 11 runs between them so that the fifth wicket fell at 96.

Neville Madziva, as in Friday’s match, stopped the rot and proved a sound partner for Kaitano as he swept towards a century.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, as with 93 to his credit off 102 balls, he miscued a scoop to fine leg and popped a simple catch, having hit two sixes and 12 fours.

The score was then 145 for six wickets in the 34th over, and the innings would have faded away had Mavuta not stood firm with Madziva, the pair adding 56 for the eighth wicket in 11 overs.

Both batters then went for 36, with Madziva, having supported Kaitano well, taking 61 balls without a single boundary, while Mavuta, free to be more aggressive, took only 43.

Rhinos were all out in the 48th over for 214.

The pace bowlers had been ineffective, taking not a wicket between them, but Nkosana Mpofu had figures of three for 28 and there were two wickets each for Ndlovu and Allan Chigoma.

Now Tuskers had their chance to chase down the target in the knowledge that, should they succeed, they would book their place in the Pro50 Championship final.

They began well enough, with a steady opening partnership of 35 in seven overs between Mpofu and Tanu Makoni before Wallace Mubaiwa dismissed Mpofu (19) and James McCollum (4) in quick succession.

Makoni was out for 23, and there continued a steady slide of wickets and of Tuskers’ hopes, until six men were out for 102 after 29 overs.

Brian Chari however was still there, and Ndlovu, nowadays quite an all-round force in his team, joined him to make a determined partnership.

Tuskers’ hopes slowly returned and grew as the runs came, and the fifty partnership was left behind.

But then came the vital blow, struck by Mavuta, whose bowling has been such a match-winning factor for Rhinos in this provincial one-day tournament.

He spun the ball past the groping bat of Ndlovu and had him out lbw for 34, scored off 40 balls, and Tuskers were 161 for seven.

In his next over Mavuta hammered two more nails into Tuskers’ coffin, sending back Ernest Masuku and Sheu Musekwa – 164 for nine.

Chari at the other end had no option now but to hit out with the last man at the crease, and when he did so against Campbell he skyed a big hit to cow corner where, most appropriately, the catch was held by Mavuta.

Tuskers were thus dismissed for 164 runs, with Rhinos sealing victory and a place in the final by 50 runs.

Mavuta completed his 10 overs – so he picked up the final three wickets just in time – and took four for 29, while there were two wickets each for Mubaiwa, Masvaure and Johnathan Campbell.


Mountaineers – 239 all out in 44.1 overs (Peter Moor 66, Kevin Kasuza 43, Spencer Magodo 29; Tanaka Chivanga 4/35, Tapiwa Mufudza 3/54, Kadeem Alleyne 2/57)

Alliance Health Eagles – 239 all out in 39.4 overs (Kadeem Alleyne 76, Chamu Chibhabha 65, Faraz Akram 13*; Baxon Gopito 3/0, Victor Nyauchi 3/28, Clive Chitumba 2/42)

Match tied 

An amazing hat-trick by a specialist batter Baxon Gopito derailed Alliance Health Eagles when they were on the verge of victory and forced a tie that gave Mountaineers a place in the Pro50 Championship.

Until that point a closely fought match, played at Mutare Sports Club on Sunday, seemed to be going the way of the Harare-based team.

Eagles, successful in the toss, continued their usual policy of putting their opponents in to bat.

Gopito of Mountaineers scored a two off the first delivery, from Tawanda Dzikiti, but was bowled by the second.

Kevin Kasuza played a solid innings and Clive Chitumba (21) put on 47 with him in 10 overs for the second wicket.

There followed the major partnership of the innings, as PJ Moor regained his best form, played himself in carefully and then unleashed his powerful attacking strokes on the bowling.

They put on 79 together in less than 14 overs before Kasuza was bowled by Tanaka Chivanga for a very useful 43, an anchor innings that came off 80 balls.

Timycen Maruma was out for one, and Moor soon followed for 66, caught off Chivanga having faced only 50 balls and hit five sixes and five fours.

With five wickets now down for 148, some of the advantage had been lost, but Spencer Magodo hit well for 29 and Shingi Masakadza again came good with 23, so the total passed 200 with seven wickets down.

Tapiwa Mufudza, tossing the ball up, did a good job in luring the batters to destruction, taking three wickets for 54 runs in his 10 overs.

It was Chivanga who finished off the innings by having Masakadza caught, and his figures were four wickets for only 35 runs, while Kadeem Alleyne took a rather expensive two for 57.

The innings closed at 239, a total that Eagles no doubt felt confident they could chase down.

Their confidence was soon shaken, however, by the early loss of their prolific opening pair, Nick Welch and Tadiwanashe Marumani.

Marumani’s innings was short and sweet, as he slammed two fours and was then caught off Tinashe Muchawaya off the fourth ball he faced.

Welch lasted until the score was 24 in the fourth over, when Nyauchi trapped him lbw, also for eight.

Kudzai Maunze was the next to go, caught off Chitumba for 12 with the score at 51.

Fortunately for Eagles, Chamu Chibhabha was still in fine form after his brilliant innings on Friday, and he soon got after the bowling, supported by the West Indian Alleyne.

They both got right on top of the bowling, boundaries flowing from their bats, and as long as they were together Eagles seemed to be racing to victory.

They added 112 for the fourth wicket in 15 overs before Chitumba returned and had Chibhabha caught for 65, scored off 68 balls, with two sixes and seven fours – the score was 163 for four in the 26th over.

Alleyne was even more aggressive, receiving less of the bowling, but thrashing five sixes and five fours.

The 200 went up with only five men out, but at 205 Alleyne was out lbw to Vincent Masekesa for 76, scored off only 63 balls.

Cunningham Ncube went for eight, but Faraz Akram was batting well with Chivanga as the scores were levelled.

The news had no doubt now reached Mountaineers that Rhinos had won in Bulawayo and therefore claimed the Pro50 trophy.

At this point Mountaineers threw the ball to Gopito, who is a non-bowler at provincial level.

There followed the greatest surprise of the match, and some might say the whole tournament.

Chivanga did not score off Gopito’s first ball, but he hit a catch off the second.

From the third Mufudza popped a return catch to the bowler, who promptly bowled Dzikiti with his fourth.

Gopito had taken a hat-trick and the match was a tie!

His remarkable bowling figures therefore were 0.4 overs for no runs and three wickets.

Of the other bowlers Nyauchi had bowled well to take three wickets for 28 in 10 overs, escaping punishment from Chibhabha and Alleyne, while Chitumba had two for 42.

Mountaineers finished second behind Rhinos and the two sides will now meet in the Pro50 Championship final pencilled in for Saturday.