PRO50 MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v MOUNTAINEERS
At Harare Sports Club, Wednesday 12 December 2012
Result: Mountaineers (179/9) lost to Mashonaland Eagles (182/2) by eight wickets.
A weak batting performance by Mountaineers led to an easy victory by Mashonaland Eagles at Harare Sports Club, with the home side’s captain Stuart Matsikenyeri leading the way with a sound innings of 77 not out, a welcome return to form and application.
Mashonaland Eagles did their usual trick of winning the toss on their home ground and putting the opposition in to bat. The weather was overcast and the pitch was slow, giving a little help to bowlers of all types, so that run-scoring was not easy during the morning. Mashonaland Eagles welcomed back Raymond Price into the side after illness, so both teams were almost at full strength.
The Mountaineers innings never really took off. The early batsmen tried hard to stay in and to keep the score moving, but once again it was clear how much their batting depends on Hamilton Masakadza. He alone of the top eight batsmen could make much of a contribution, showing great skill in making 49 off 76 balls before he was superbly run out by Sikandar Raza trying to take a quick single to reach his fifty.
Mountaineers slid to 104 for seven, but then Shingi Masakadza and Donald Tiripano dug in to halt the rot. They scored only 20 runs in their first ten overs together, but then began to open up to make 42 off 14 overs for the eighth wicket. Tiripano went for 16, but Shingi stayed to the end. With the passive but invaluable help of last man Tendai Chatara he reached 52 not out off 69 balls, and 33 runs came off the last three overs. The total was 179 for nine, which at least gave them something to bowl at. All six bowlers took a wicket (Jarvis two), and the three spinners, Price, Prosper Utseya and Tino Mutombodzi, each went for less than three runs an over.
Conditions were naturally a little easier for batting after lunch, and the Mashonaland Eagles opening pair of Matsikenyeri and Regis Chakabva looked more assured than the Mountaineers openers had been. They defended capably against good bowling and still managed to keep the score ticking over. They put on 25 before, in the seventh over, Chakabva cut a ball into the hands of slip, having made 14. Chamu Chibhabha then shared a stand of 55 with the steady Matsikenyeri before departing for 22.
Mountaineers missed a chance of breaking through when Raza was dropped at slip before he had scored. Much of the innings until now had been played in a light rain, which now became heavy enough to stop play at 3 p.m. with the score 83 for two. Play resumed after 25 minutes, and the 100 came up in the 25th over. Raza was then dropped again, this time at midwicket, and it seemed that Mountaineers had missed their last chance now.
Matsikenyeri reached his fifty off 88 balls, a well-played and determined innings. He and Raza simply continued to take the bowling as it came, without haste, and victory came with almost eight overs in hand. Raza tried to win the match with a six, but instead sliced it high over the slips to the boundary; he finished unbeaten with 46. It was a convincing victory and will put Mashonaland Eagles in good heart for their crucial T20 match tomorrow.