Rhinos – 169-4 in 20 overs (Prince Masvaure 84*, Nyasha Mayavo 31, Johnathan Campbell 29*; Sydney Murombo 2/35, Roy Kaia 1/29, Tendai Chisoro 1/30)
Southern Rocks – 160-9 in 20 overs (Cephas Zhuwao 50, Innocent Kaia 41, Tafadzwa Tsiga 16; Brandon Mavuta 2/12, Neville Madziva 2/18, Tashinga Musekiwa 2/19)
Rhinos won by nine runs
Rhinos got the better of Southern Rocks by nine runs in a thrilling Domestic T20 Competition third-place playoff match – perhaps the best and most exciting game of this tournament – played at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
The Rocks pair of Cephas Zhuwao and Innocent Kaia appeared to be taking their team to victory chasing a tough target, but when both were dismissed by consecutive deliveries from Brandon Mavuta the rest of their batting could not sustain the challenge as Rhinos fought back decisively with the ball to win.
Rocks put Rhinos in to bat when they won the toss, but they soon found their bowlers unable to take advantage of the situation.
Takudzwanashe Kaitano quickly hit two fours, but then he was caught out by Tendai Chisoro off Sydney Murombo with the score at 25 in the fourth over.
Rhinos then took a grip on their innings as Nyasha Mayavo joined Prince Masvaure and the pair put on 90 runs in exactly 10 overs.
Murombo ended the partnership at 115 when he bowled Mayavo for 31 (28 balls) in the 14th over, but most of the scoring was done by Masvaure, an outstanding innings from a batter more often known for his solid batting in red-ball cricket.
There were some minor hiccups at this stage, as Tashinga Musekiwa went for one and Neville Madziva for six, but then Johnathan Campbell joined Masvaure and the two hit out in excellent style for the rest of the innings.
Campbell was not out with 29 at the end, having hit a six and three fours in facing 17 balls.
Masvaure’s masterpiece reached 84 not out after he batted throughout the 20 overs, facing 58 balls and hitting a six and 11 fours.
All the bowlers went for at least seven runs an over, with Murombo returning the best figures of two for 35 off his four overs.
No total can be considered safe, however, when Zhuwao is among the opposition.
Zhuwao and Innocent Kaia were quite undeterred by the difficult task before them, and cracked up 40 runs in the first four overs of their innings.
Remarkably, at this stage Kaia was scoring faster than his fearsome partner, and after both had faced 18 balls he had made 29 runs against Zhuwao’s 21.
But Zhuwao was not to be denied for long, and he shot ahead of Kaia in the 30s, with the bowlers quite unable to stop the carnage.
The team hundred came up without loss in the 10th over – by the end of it the score was 105, Zhuwao had reached 50 off 35 balls, and the match appeared to be Rocks’ to lose.
Suddenly, though, the situation changed, as Zhuwao skyed a catch off Mavuta and was caught for 50, scored off 36 balls with five fours and a six.
The batters had crossed and off the next ball Kaia, his concentration probably disturbed, was in turn caught for 41 – he faced 28 balls and hit four fours and a six.
So brilliantly had these two hit, however, that Rocks were still in a position of strength, with Roy Kaia and Tadiwanashe Marumani now at the crease.
Marumani was quickly out for three and at 134 Roy Kaia was out for 14 – the match was getting tight.
Then Richmond Mutumbami was caught for seven as the batters desperately tried to keep up with the run rate, and 23 were needed off the final two overs.
It was just too late for Rocks, as Tsiga was next to go for 16 – 147 for six with 11 balls left.
The Rhinos bowling now had such a grip on the situation that the batters could only scramble a few ones and twos, and there were two run-outs and a bowled victim in the final over as the Rocks’ brilliant challenge faded away at 159 for nine.
The man who turned the match around, Mavuta, only bowled two overs, and had figures of the two crucial wickets for 12 runs.
Musekiwa had two wickets for 19 runs in his three overs and Neville Madziva two for 17 in three, while Trevor Gwandu did a good job with one for 19 in three overs.
Eight bowlers were used altogether in Rhinos’ desperate attempts to split the opening pair, and remarkably not one of them bowled his full quota of four overs in this innings.
Meanwhile, Alliance Health Eagles and Mountaineers will meet in the Domestic T20 Competition final at Harare Sports Club on Saturday, with the match set to start at 1330 hours.