Mashonaland Eagles, who gave the captaincy today to the Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, inevitably decided to field. Brendan Taylor and Riki Wessels made a sound start, moving the score along and taking few chances, bringing the 50 up in the eighth over, although Taylor was missed off a difficult chance on the square-leg boundary. They speeded up, the 100 being reached in the 12th over, both batsmen reaching fifties soon afterwards. Wessels was first to go, at 111, pulling a catch to midwicket for 51 off 44 balls. At the 15-over mark the score was 114 for one, and at this point Taylor skied a catch, out for 54 off 42 balls.
Well as they batted, such a score with only two wickets down and five overs to go was perhaps a little disappointing. Fortunately for Mid-West Rhinos, Gary Ballance was now in and he carried on exactly where he had left off the previous afternoon. With a series of brilliant strokes, especially adept at swinging balls over the midwicket boundary, he tore the bowling apart, being mainly responsible for another 70 runs coming off the last five overs. His share was 53 not out, scored off 25 balls, with two fours and five sixes, a display of hitting even more awesome than that which won the previous match.
Mid-West Rhinos therefore finished with the almost invincible score of 184 for three. Mashonaland Eagles were handicapped at the bowling crease by the loss of Raymond Price, who had to leave the field in the middle of his second over after hurting his hand attempting a difficult return chance. Both wickets fell to Rory Hamilton-Brown (two for 32).
Mashonaland Eagles kept their heads as they replied, the opening pair putting on 27 by sensible cricket in four overs before Hamilton-Brown (19) skied a catch. His partner Matsikenyeri, after a very shaky start against the pace of Shaun Tait, settled in and played some good strokes, aided now by Trego, and after ten overs they had taken the score to 75 for one – exactly 11 an over needed off the remaining ten.
Matsikenyeri reached his fifty off 41 balls, and the 100 came up in the 14th over. Then the batsmen stepped up a gear, and at 15 overs they were pulling back into the game, with 126 on the board; Mid-West Rhinos (pre-Ballance) at this stage had only 114. Tate came back and slowed down the scoring rate until he was taken off after bowling two accidental beamers in an over. Then Matsikenyeri was caught at the wicket trying to scoop a ball from Mike Chinouya, for 73 off 55 balls (four sixes, four fours). Mashonaland Eagles now needed 34 off the final three overs.
Tension mounted as Richard Muzhange bowled a superb over for three runs; 31 now needed off the last two. Chinouya conceded 11, which left 20 runs to be had from the young Muzhange’s final over of the match. Trego hit 2, 2, 6 and 1, when Ryan ten Doeschate was run out attempting a second. Nine were needed from two balls, with Trego facing. He could only manage a single off the first; Elton Chigumbura could not hit the final delivery, and the bowler had kept his head to win the match for his team at the death. The gallant Trego was unbeaten with 71 off 49 balls.
Mid-West Rhinos are deservedly on a high at present after two superb victories under pressure – but they still have some members of their side failing to contribute significantly, and this makes them vulnerable when their top players inevitably have a bad day.