PRO50 MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v MATABELELAND TUSKERS
At Harare Sports Club; Wednesday 17 October 2012.
Result: Matabeleland Tuskers (237/8) lost to Mashonaland Eagles (239/9) by one wicket.
There was an exciting finish to the match between the traditional rivals Mashonaland Eagles and Matabeleland Tuskers at Harare Sports Club today.
Eagles needed four runs to win in the final over of the match with their last pair together, and Mark Mbofana – who had earlier retired after a blow on the helmet – sliced a boundary through the vacant slips to win the match for his team.
Once again, Mashonaland Eagles won the toss on their home pitch and had the advantage of putting their opponents in. Although both Matabeleland Tuskers openers fell at 13, the loss of the toss was not quite the usual ‘kiss of death’, as none of the bowlers found much movement at any time, but it did become steadily flatter as the day progressed. The Ervine brothers steadily settled the innings after the early losses, and after Craig left for 18 Sean shared a stand of 92 for the fourth wicket with Charles Coventry – the latter batting usefully but never attempting the powerful hitting for which he is famous.
Sean Ervine looked set to celebrate his return to cricket in Zimbabwe with a century, but on 94 he drove a ball from Mbofana (who had also dismissed Craig) high into the covers and left with the total on 188 for six. He had batted very watchfully at first, progressed to quick intelligent running between the wickets, and finally launched an assault on the bowlers, including two sixes. Glenn Querl batted usefully at the end to take the total to 237 for eight, not a great total but enough to make a match of it. Kyle Jarvis and Mbofana took three wickets each and Nathan Waller two, while Raymond Price was the most economical bowler, giving away only 33 runs off his 10 overs.
Eagles began their run-chase with caution. Chamunorwa Chibhabha (20) made most of the early runs, his partner Regis Chakabva being handicapped by a slight hand injury which had prevented him from keeping wicket. Keegan Meth bowled an accurate opening spell, conceding just nine runs in his first six overs, but the bowlers had little or no assistance from the pitch. Chakabva was dropped at the wicket at 24, but then began to open up and play his strokes before giving the keeper another chance at 41.
The real star of the innings, though, was Sikandar Raza Butt. For the past year or more he has put aside most of the dashing strokes that first brought him to prominence, but this time he played a good attacking innings of 63 off 73 balls, hitting three sixes and looking most impressive. Otherwise the rest of the innings was largely a chain of batsmen settling in but losing their wickets between 10 and 20.
At 198 for six, when Elton Chigumbura was out, with 6.4 overs to go, the match was evenly balanced again. But Stuart Matsikenyeri was still there and with Tinotenda Mutombodzi ran quickly between the wickets until Chris Mpofu trapped him lbw for 37: 218 for seven. At 222 - in the 48th over – Mutombodzi edged Querl to the keeper; nine were down for 228, leaving Price batting with the returning Mbofana. Price hit a two and a four, and in the final over a no-ball from Querl was followed by Mbofana’s winning boundary.
Tuskers had a weakened team for this match, missing through injury Gavin Ewing, Njabulo Ncube and Sean Williams while Eagles lacked Tatenda Gumunyu-Manatsa. The Eagles administration has been trying to attract spectators to their matches, and were rewarded by two parties totalling about forty enthusiastic schoolboys.