Southern Rocks won the toss on a hot sunny day and as always put the opposition in to bat. There was some justification this time, as the opening bowlers Brian Vitori and Andre Nel found a little life and movement and caused the batsmen some trouble in the first few overs. Mashonaland Eagles lost the wicket of Stuart Matsikenyeri to the second ball of the match, caught at slip off Vitori, and soon afterwards Cephas Zhuwao and Rory Hamilton-Brown went cheaply as well; the score was 30 for three in the seventh over.
Peter Trego and Elton Chigumbura soon began to turn the situation around with some powerful hitting, helped by some poor Southern Rocks fielding that grew worse as the innings progressed, with at least three catches going down altogether and numerous runs being given away in the field. They added 60 in eight overs before Trego went for 45, and Chigumbura skied a catch into the covers in the penultimate over for 47 off 34 balls. There was a little support from the rest of the middle order, but the final total of 147 for seven – aided by poor fielding – was quite good considering the poor start. Shane Burger’s medium pace took four wickets for 31, while Vitori conceded only 17 runs for a wicket in his four overs.
It is impossible to gauge how much extra runs given away in the field added to the pressure on the Southern Rocks batsmen, but they lost their openers within the first three overs, both in too much of a hurry to get the board moving. Then it was Mashonaland Eagles’ turn to drop catches, as Chamu Chibhabha on 3 pulled a catch straight to deep square leg, and was reprieved. The guilty fielder, Matsikenyeri, did atone for his error, though, by running out Chibhabha for 10 not long afterwards, making the score 30 for three in the seventh over.
There was little fight to follow. Jon Kent briefly appeared to be fighting back, but then he heaved across the line at a ball from Tino Mutombodzi and was bowled for 14. He wasn’t the only batsman to fall to an unworthy stroke; in fact, soft dismissals became the rule rather than the exception. Only the captain, Alister Maregwede, came out of the debacle with credit, top scorer with 15 and last man out, superbly caught on the cover boundary. The total was a dismal 77. The most successful bowler was Nathan Waller, gifted three wickets for 8 runs in his three overs. It was an ignominious departure for Southern Rocks, who brought about their own destruction, and Mashonaland Eagles will meet Mid-West Rhinos in a semi-final tomorrow morning.