Stanbic T20 played in Harare: Matabeleland Tuskers (161/4) beat Mountaineers (142) by 19 runs.
The first match of the second day held particular interest as it was contested by the two winning teams of the first day, both teams well capable of winning the tournament.
Matabeleland Tuskers won the day, with the former West Indian captain Chris Gayle turning in a star performance to make 61 with the bat and then take four wickets for just 22 runs with the ball. Paul Horton, Craig Ervine, Keegan Meth and Keith Dabengwa also had good mornings as the Bulawayo team triumphed.
Mountaineers won the toss and, as usual, put the opposition in to bat. Matabeleland Tuskers, however, had a cunning plan to counter the tendency of inexperienced local players to collapse when batting first through inability to pace the innings: they sent their experienced overseas players in first. Tom Smith quickly fell, caught behind off the glove off a lifting ball from Dirk Nannes, but then Gayle and Horton shared a fine partnership of 95.
Gayle in particular dominated, although for most of his innings he did not appear to do so, as he just kept the score ticking over regularly through his skill and experience. He had a lucky escape on 18, when he sliced a ball that lobbed gently over point, just out of reach of three fielders running for it. Later he started to open up, hitting Mushangwe for two sixes in an over, including the biggest of the day, straight over the media centre. His 50 came off 33 balls, and when he was finally caught on the midwicket boundary off the deceptive bowling of Chris Harris he had made 61 off 38 balls, including three fours and five sixes. The score was 98 for two after 13 overs.
Horton soon followed for 32, also diddled out by Harris, and Charles Coventry (17) and Ervine (30 not out) took over with some aggressive batting. Ervine for once outshone his partner and hit three sixes, facing only 15 balls. The final total was an impressive 161 for four, although Mountaineers certainly had the batting to challenge this. Harris was the most successful bowler, with two for 21 off his four overs, while Nannes also bowled very well with two for 29.
It promised to be a good finish. Meth quickly struck for Matabeleland Tuskers, having Tino Mawoyo caught at midwicket for 1 off the third ball of the innings, but then came a crucial stand between Phil Mustard and Hamilton Masakadza. They put on 49 in six overs, and Masakadza gave Gayle some of his own treatment, swinging the ball for a huge six over midwicket when the West Indian came on to bowl. But not much else could be done against Gayle. He broke the stand by having Mustard caught at long-on for 15, though there was most credit here to a superb leaping one-handed catch by Meth. Keith Dabengwa took the crucial wicket of Masakadza, stumped for 45 off 34 balls; and the score was 80 for three at the start of the eleventh over, as well balanced as could be.
The 100 came up in the 13th over, but then Gayle struck a double blow that proved to be crucial. He removed Kevin Kasuza for 24 and Shingi Masakadza next ball, leaving Mountaineers at 103 for five and suddenly struggling. 54 runs were needed off the last five overs, and then Ted Eckersley fell right into Gayle’s trap, swinging a shortish ball straight to deep midwicket. Chris Harris (19) fell to a fine return catch by Dabengwa off a powerful drive and, with the situation now next to impossible, the last few batsmen slogged and perished.