T20 MATCH: MID-WEST RHINOS v MASHONALAND EAGLES
At Kwekwe Sports Club, Sunday 14 October.
Result: Mid-West Rhinos (183/3) lost to Mashonaland Eagles (184/4) by six wickets.
Mashonaland Eagles came back from the dead in this match as, facing a target of 184 and at one stage needing 12 an over to win, superb batting from Stuart Matsikenyeri and Forster Mutizwa in particular turned the tables and took them through to a thrilling victory with five balls to spare.
There seems to be a regular pattern emerging from this block of one-day domestic cricket in Zimbabwe. The home side wins the toss in both matches, and decides to field in the Pro50 and bat in the T20. This happened again at Kwekwe, and Mid-West Rhinos were given a blistering start by Vusimuzi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor. Taylor survived a huge lbw appeal off the first legitimate delivery of the match, and Sibanda on nine hammered a chance straight at Matsikenyeri in the covers, but it went down.
The pair celebrated by racing to 53 off five overs before the spinners came on and slowed them down a little, but the 100 still came up in the 11th over. Taylor, unwilling to be overshadowed, was now slightly ahead, reaching his 50 off 36 balls, while Sibanda followed off 42. The partnership was only broken at 133, when Sibanda was lbw to Kyle Jarvis, hitting across a straight full-length ball, for 64 off 50 balls. Two deliveries later Taylor was caught off Raymond Price, a huge skyer to long-off, for 59 off 44 balls.
Jaik Mickleburgh and Malcolm Waller did their best to keep up the momentum, and the final total was an impressive 183 for three wickets. Jarvis took two wickets, but only the two spinners, Price and Tinotenda Mutombodzi, conceded fewer than nine runs an over.
Mashonaland Eagles needed to attack right from the start to have any hope of reaching their target, but they quickly lost two of their big hitters – Cephas Zhuwao and Sikandar Raza. However, Chamu Chibhabha was more successful, scoring 39 off 28 balls before perishing to a catch in the deep. At this point more than 10 an over were required, but Matsikenyeri and Mutizwa launched a determined assault on the bowling. Matsikenyeri raced to 50 off 34 balls and made 67 off 44 balls before Cremer bowled him. He had put his side back in the match and now 31 were needed off 19 balls as Elton Chigumbura came in.
He and Mutizwa were up to the job and the bowlers seemed helpless, 21 coming off the next over, leaving only 10 needed off the final two. Chigumbura, who made 19 off 7 balls, drove the first ball of the final over straight to clinch the match, while the heroic Mutizwa was unbeaten with 44 off 24 balls.