T20 MATCH: MASHONALAND EAGLES v MOUNTAINEERS
At Harare Sports Club, Thursday 13 December 2012
Result: Mashonaland Eagles (180/8) beat Mountaineers (127) by 53 runs.
Superb batting by Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Sikandar Raza Butt laid the foundation for a comprehensive Mashonaland Eagles victory over their nearest challengers, Mountaineers, in the twenty20 domestic competition.
Barring a major disaster, Mashonaland Eagles have won the league stage of this tournament for the season. With two matches to play, they are now seven points ahead of Mountaineers – the only team with any chance of overtaking them. These two teams, however, will need to play a final on the 10th of February next year.
The day started with a rare event – Mashonaland Eagles losing the toss on their home ground and being put in to bat.
However, they soon recovered from this unaccustomed shock, and their aggressive opening pair of Chibhabha and Raza was soon pasting some rather wayward bowling all over the field. Lady Luck clearly deserted Mountaineers once they had won the toss, as a number of lofted strokes by both players just evaded or bisected fielders. Finally, though, Chibhabha (50 off 43 balls) drove a low catch to long-off, ending a partnership of 94 in just over 11 overs.
It proved a good move to promote Nathan Waller to number three, as he hammered 24 off 11 balls, including three sixes. Elton Chigumbura made 11, but Raza went on to score 70 off 42 balls, with five fours and three sixes – an outstanding innings.
There was a flurry of wickets in the last three overs, six going down in that period, and this may have prevented a possible total of 200. But 180 for eight wickets was quite enough to give Mountaineers a very challenging target.
Mountaineers opened their batting with Hamilton Masakadza and Mark Pettini, the only two batsmen capable of tackling such a huge total successfully, barring near-miracles.
Masakadza (1) was caught down the leg side off Waller in the second over of the innings, and after 10 overs the score was 69 for three – but Pettini was still there, with 38 off 24 balls. Briefly he and Timycen Maruma looked as if they might mount a challenge, adding 31 in 3.1 overs, but then Pettini was stumped for 49 off 33 balls. The score now was 99 for four in 13 overs; 82 needed in seven.
Maruma hit 28 off 13 balls before he was also stumped by the alert Forster Mutizwa off Tinotenda Mutombodzi.
After that, wickets fell rapidly and Mountaineers failed to prevent Mashonaland Eagles from taking a bonus point for their large victory. The innings petered out for 127, with Mutombodzi taking four for 20.
During the latter stages of the match, there was the welcome sight of a smattering of spectators on the stands.