Southern Rocks – 306-6 in 50 overs (Ben Curran 88, Tadiwanashe Marumani 49, Innocent Kaia 45; John Masara 2/39, Tinashe Muchawaya 1/39, Wellington Masakadza 1/48)
Mountaineers – 296 all out in 49.4 overs (Shingi Masakadza 59, Wellington Masakadza 58, Ben Compton 56; Sikandar Raza 2/50, Blessing Muzarabani 2/53, Nkosilathi Nungu 2/57)
Southern Rocks won by 10 runs
Shingi Masakadza struck a blistering half-century but it was not enough to prevent Southern Rocks from extending their unbeaten run in the Pro50 Championship as they defeated Mountaineers by 10 runs in a thrilling match played at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Mountaineers won the toss and soon regretted their decision to put Rocks in to bat.
Innocent Kaia gave Rocks a fine start with a dashing innings of 45 off only 43 balls, before being bowled by Wellington Masakadza in the 14th over with the score at 82 already.
His opening partner, Tadiwanashe Marumani, was not quite as fluent as usual, but he was still doing a good job as he was joined by the Northamptonshire professional Ben Curran.
They took the score to 144 in the 27th over before Marumani was dismissed by John Masara, the seventh bowler tried, for 49 off 72 balls.
Sikandar Raza quickly hit a six and three fours as he made 27 before being caught off Shingi Masakadza, but Gabriel Jaya, on his début for Rocks, was bowled by Masara for two.
Curran and Tafadzwa Tsiga put on 58 in nine overs before Tsiga was caught by Wellington Masakadza off Tinashe Muchawaya for 25 off 30 balls.
Curran had looked poised to score a century, but he soon followed Tsiga, caught off Donald Tiripano for a fine 88 off 96 balls, with five fours, and Rocks were 260 for six in the 46th over.
Richmond Mutumbami, who rarely comes in at No 7, hit out boldly with two sixes and two fours to make 31 not out off 20 balls, helped by Blessing Muzarabani with 11 not out off 12 balls.
They successfully took Rocks past the 300 mark, the final score after 50 overs being 306 for six wickets.
Masara was the only bowler to take as many as two wickets, which he did for 39 runs, while the most economical bowler was Victor Nyauchi, whose eight overs without a wicket cost 39 runs.
Mountaineers had a difficult target to face, and Ben Compton and Gary Chirimuuta made a sound rather than spectacular start, putting up 50 on the board in the 12th over without loss.
They took the score to 79 after 18 overs before Chirimuuta went for 39 off 56 balls, caught off the spin of Raza.
The score reached 131 in the 28th over before Rocks could break through again, with Dylan Hondo then bowling Compton for 56, scored off 86 balls.
Tony Munyonga for once failed, caught and bowled by Raza for three, but Kudzai Sauramba joined Wellington Masakadza and they added 64 together for the fourth wicket.
The one problem was that they struggled to keep up with the required run rate, and when Wellington Masakadza was finally caught at the wicket by Tsiga for 58 off Hondo at 204 in the 40th over, a rate of 10 runs an over was needed.
Donald Tiripano (2) and Sauramba (39) were soon out, making the score 212 for six in the 42nd over, and more than 10 an over now required from the last four wickets.
Despite facing such a demanding run rate, Shingi Masakadza and Nyauchi tried their best, throwing their bats gallantly at the bowling.
Shingi Masakadza hit two sixes and Nyauchi one, and 47 were needed off the last four overs.
At 267 Nyauchi (16) lofted a catch off Nkosi Nungu, and it was all up to Shingi Masakadza, who hit Nungu for two sixes, so 28 were needed off the final two overs.
Shingi Masakadza hit two fours off the next over, but was finally caught at the wicket off Muzarabani for 59, which contained four sixes and four fours off only 28 balls.
PJ Moor, who had been injured in the field, came in last, but he was caught off Nungu for four with the total on 296, and Rocks had triumphed again.
Muzarabani, Nungu, Hondo and Raza all took two wickets each and no bowler was hit for more than seven an over, so once again it was a fine team performance that contributed towards victory.
Rhinos – 261 all out in 47.4 overs (Takudzwanashe Kaitano 73, Prince Masvaure 61, Tarisai Musakanda 34; Tapiwa Mufudza 3/38, Marshal Takodza 3/55, Daniel Jakiel 1/38)
Alliance Health Eagles – 266-4 in 42.1 overs (Marshal Takodza 76*, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 62, Tinotenda Mutombodzi 52*; Brandon Mavuta 3/64, Manson Chikowero 1/37)
Alliance Health Eagles won by six wickets
A brilliant century partnership between Tino Mutombodzi and Marshal Takodza took Alliance Health Eagles home to a six-wicket victory over Rhinos in their Pro50 Championship match at Takashinga Sports Club on Sunday.
This was a meeting between two struggling sides, as Eagles had won only one of their four matches in the tournament so far, while Rhinos had lost all four.
Rhinos decided to bat on winning the toss, and Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Prince Masvaure gave them the ideal start, with an excellent opening partnership of 108 in less than 20 overs, before Kaitano was caught and bowled by Wessly Madhevere for an excellent innings of 73 off 72 balls.
He hit powerfully to record a six and 11 fours, and he certainly did his part to give his team an excellent start.
Tarisai Musakanda joined Masvaure and the pair kept the momentum going, adding 52 in nine overs before Takodza bowled Masvaure for 61, scored off 82 balls.
Musakanda was the third man to go at 185, caught off Takodza for 34 off 37 balls, and from this point onwards the innings began to lose its way.
Ryan Burl took 28 balls to score 14 before being caught off Brighton Zhawi.
Then began a procession of wickets at one end, as one batsman followed another back to the changing room without one of them staying long enough to reach double figures.
Johnathan Campbell did a fine job to hold up one end from No 5, scoring 33 not out from 28 balls, but he needed an equally capable partner for Rhinos to keep their advantage, and this he never found.
Tapiwa Mufudza did most of the damage at this stage, taking three wickets at a small cost as the batters tried unsuccessfully to get hold of his off-breaks.
The last eight Rhinos wickets actually fell in just over 12 overs for 76 runs, and the team was bowled out for 261 in the 48th over.
Eagles for their part had done very well to bowl themselves back into the game when they looked likely to concede 300 or more runs.
Mufudza finished with figures of three for 38 in 9.4 overs, while Takodza also took three wickets, these for 55 runs.
Eagles began their reply with all confidence of being able to chase down their target with time to spare.
Tinashe Kamunhukamwe played some dashing strokes, being particularly severe on the bowling of Carl Mumba, whom he hit for two fours and a six in four balls.
It was good to see the wholehearted Mike Chinouya back and bowling for Rhinos again, but his first spell of four overs cost 28 runs.
Eagles lost Gareth Chirawu lbw to Manson Chikowero for 13 with the score on 53 in the 10th over, but Kamunhukamwe and Kudzai Maunze continued to flog the bowling until Kamunhukamwe was caught off Brandon Mavuta for 62 off only 52 balls.
He hit three sixes and nine fours, and the score was 122 for two in the 18th over.
There was trouble in Mavuta’s next over, as he had Madhevere caught for three, going for a big hit, and off the next delivery bowled Maunze for 44.
Suddenly Eagles found themselves at 127 for four wickets in the 20th over.
They had the right men for the job though in Mutombodzi and Takodza, as the pair settled in and took command of the bowling.
Takodza was more aggressive than his more experienced partner, reaching his fifty first and then hammering one boundary after another as Eagles closed in on their target.
He finished with an unbeaten 76 off 71 balls, with 11 fours, but the honour of scoring the winning runs went to Mutombodzi, who hit Campbell for six to take Eagles home and at the same time bring up his own score to 52, made from 67 balls with two sixes and two fours.
The pair had put on 139 runs in 22 overs, and won the match with almost eight overs to spare.
Mavuta’s three quick wickets gave him the best bowling figures, three for 62 off his 10 overs, but Chikowero was the most economical, taking one for 37 in eight overs.
2021/22 PRO50 CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS TABLE