Result: Southern Rocks (120/8) lost to Mashonaland Eagles (121/3) by seven wickets.
When Southern Rocks lost the toss for the second time on a pitch notorious for assisting the bowlers early in the day, they could be forgiven for feeling that the fates wished to destroy them.
The Harare Sports Club pitch is notorious for helping the bowlers early in the morning, and to lose the toss and be put in to bat is usually a condemnation to defeat – especially to a beleaguered team like Southern Rocks. They did their best, but the cards were stacked against them and they went down by seven wickets.
Rocks made a hesitant start, but on this occasion the ball did not move about unduly and Roy Kaia soon settled in with Ben Slater, the Derbyshire professional who took the initiative from the start. But Mashonaland Eagles tightened up and pegged Southern Rocks back to 58 for one after 10 overs, Kaia having gone for a 19 that included two sixes.
Shortly afterwards Slater was out for a fine 39 off 34 balls, but the only other batsman after that able to make much of a contribution was the experienced Alister Maregwede, who hit up 30 off 25 balls before being caught at long-off in the final over. But the conditions, although not severe, and the bowlers, did not allow a none too strong batting line-up to take charge, and in the end Southern Rocks had to make do with six runs an over and a total of 120 for nine. Three wickets fell in the frenetic final over.
The Eagles spinners – Raymond Price and Tinotenda Mutombodzi – kept a tight rein, while Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa was surprisingly given only three overs, which cost only eight runs.
By now the pitch had eased, as usual, and a target of 121 should have been little more than a walk in the park for the home side. Cephas Zhuwao and Chamunorwa Chibhabha were soon carving up the bowling with the greatest of ease, putting on 89 in 12 overs before Zhuwao holed out at long-off for 49 (43 balls). Sikandar Raza Butt and Elton Chigumbura holed out on the boundary, but Chibhabha, who had less of the bowling, stayed to see his team home by seven wickets with more than four overs to spare. He scored 46 off 39 balls.
For both matches at Harare Sports Club this weekend, the number of spectators was negligible. The Mashonaland Eagles authorities will have to do more to market their home matches.