Tuskers – 194 all out in 44.1 overs (Tanunurwa Makoni 64, Alvin Chiradza 58, Ainsley Ndlovu 14; Tapiwa Mufudza 4/26, Hamid Ali 3/21, Kudzai Maunze 2/44)
Alliance Health Eagles – 151 all out in 33.4 overs (Tadiwanashe Marumani 34, Chamu Chibhabha 21, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 19; Tanatswa Bechani 4/27, Sheunopa Musekwa 3/24, Ernest Masuku 2/43)
Tuskers won by 43 runs
A fine innings of 64 by Tanunurwa Makoni and an incisive spell of pace bowling from Sheu Musekwa were the main factors in Tuskers’ 43-run victory over Alliance Health Eagles in the 2022/23 season’s opening Pro50 Championship match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Eagles won the toss and put Tuskers in to bat.
Tuskers would have been in trouble without Makoni, who held the early batting together despite the early loss of Nkosana Mpofu for nine and Brian Chari for five.
When Allan Chigoma went for 10 the score was 64 for three in the 17th over, but then wicket-keeper Alvin Chiradza came in and soon proved himself a worthy partner for Makoni.
The pair ensured a reasonable total with a fine partnership of 67 in 16 overs, with Makoni sailing past his fifty.
The balance was tipping in favour of Tuskers, until off-spinner Tapiwa Mufudza took a hand, first bowling out Makoni for 64, an innings which lasted 94 balls and contained a six and six fours.
Two balls later Mufudza bowled out the new man, Ernest Masuku, which made the score a much less healthy 131 for five.
Eagles were now on top, and wickets fell steadily as Chiradza looked in vain for another good partner.
At 193 he fell lbw himself to Hamid Ali for 58 (81 balls and three fours), and a few balls later the innings closed for 194.
Mufudza was certainly the pick of the bowlers, taking four wickets for only 26 runs in his 10 overs.
Ali sneaked in at the end with the last three wickets for 21 off only four overs and a ball, while Kudzai Maunze had two for 44.
This did not appear to be too difficult a task for Eagles, and they made a good start with Tinashe Kamunhukamwe (19) and Tadiwanashe Marumani (34) plundering the bowlers to make 59 for the first wicket in less than eight overs.
But then Musekwa began to turn the game around, first of all by having Marumani caught by Chari for 34, scored off only 27 balls with seven fours.
He then claimed two lbw decisions, Maunze for four and Kamunhukamwe for 19, and in two overs the score was 68 for three.
Chamu Chibhabha with 21 and Marshall Takodza with 18 made something of a recovery by taking the score to 102, but then Tanatswa Bechani dismissed them both, and six wickets were down for 109 in the 21st over.
Eagles had plenty of time at their disposal, and Ali and Faraz Akram revived their hopes with a stand of 32 together.
But then Akram for 13 and Ali for 19 were dismissed off consecutive deliveries, and with the score now 141 for eight, the match was gone.
The final total was 151, so in the end Eagles were unable to come close.
Rhinos – 276 all out in 48.2 overs (Charles Kunje 88, Prince Masvaure 47*, Prince Masvaure 39; William Mashinge 3/77, Tendai Chisoro 2/37, Keith Jaure 2/64)
Southern Rocks – 278-6 in 45.3 overs (Cephas Zhuwao 99, Ben Curran 67*, Richmond Mutumbami 33; Neville Madziva 3/34, Brandon Mavuta 2/58, Charles Kunje 1/45)
Southern Rocks won by four wickets
A bruising innings of 99 by Cephas Zhuwao paved the way for Southern Rocks to chase down a target of 276 set by Rhinos and win their first Pro50 Championship match of the season by four wickets with all of 37 balls to spare at Masvingo Sports Club on Saturday.
Rhinos, put in to bat when Rocks won the toss, soon lost Takudzwanashe Kaitano for seven in the third over, caught at the wicket by Richmond Mutumbami off Keith Jaure.
Then came the first vital partnership of the innings, as Charles Kunje joined his captain Prince Masvaure at the wicket and the two batted superbly, putting on 85 runs in 13 overs before Masvaure was caught and bowled by the left-arm spinner Dylan Hondo for 39, scored off 44 balls.
Tarisai Musakanda went without scoring, but Nyasha Mayavo with 16 and Johnathan Campbell with 20 were useful partners for Kunje, who looked set for a century when he was caught off Brian Mudzinganyama for an excellent innings of 88.
He faced the same number of balls, hit a six and 14 fours, and when he was out Rhinos had reached the good score of 180 for five in the 33rd over.
At this point the innings rather trailed off, and it seemed Rhinos had wasted this advantage when the ninth wicket fell at 210 in the 39th over.
The last man, Trevor Gwandu, was hit on the head and forced to retire hurt, but Kuda Macheka came out to replace him as a concussion substitute.
The other batter, Brandon Mavuta, whose real batting form is too rarely seen, was joined by Macheka as the pair hit out freely against the Rocks bowlers.
Against expectations, they took the score right up to 276 before Macheka was finally bowled by William Mashinge for 15, scored off 19 balls, leaving Mavuta unbeaten on 47 from 38, with two sixes and three fours.
The two spin bowlers, Tendai Chisoro (two for 37) and Hondo (one for 36), both did a fine restraining job in their 10 overs each, but the seamers suffered some heavy punishment.
Mashinge took three wickets, which cost him all of 77 runs in eight overs and two balls, while Jaure had two for 64 off his 10 overs.
Rocks sent in the legendary Zhuwao to open their batting with Mudzinganyama and made a most confident start.
They were always on course for victory, as the score reached 79 in the 12th over when Mudzinganyama was caught by Kunje off Mavuta for 32, which took him 40 balls.
Ben Curran played a stabilising innings while Zhuwao roared past his fifty, and they had more than doubled the score when Zhuwao reached 99 and, with a century seemingly there for the taking, became too venturesome, and was lured out of his crease and stumped as he aimed for another hit to bring up his three figures.
His 99 came off 77 balls and, in typical fashion, contained five sixes and 11 fours – Rocks were 160 for two off 26 overs.
Mutumbami, recently a successful opener in the T10 club tournament, came in next and hit up 33 off 30 balls, adding 53 with the steady Curran, who played his supporting role very skilfully.
As Tafadzwa Tsiga (11) and Mashinge (22) came and went, Neville Madziva bowling successfully, Rhinos were never able to make a proper breakthrough, although two wickets fell on 273.
The end came in the 46th over, as Chisoro came in and hit a boundary to take the score to 278 for six wickets.
Curran saw the job through to the end, scoring 67 not out off 84 balls.
Madziva did some fine bowling to take three wickets for 34 runs, but he was only given seven overs.
The Rhinos spinners were not as economical as Rocks’ had been, but Mavuta took two wickets for 58 in his 10 overs.