T20 MATCH: MOUNTAINEERS v MID-WEST RHINOS
At Mutare Sports Club, Thursday 10 January 2013
Result: Mid-West Rhinos (115/9) beat Mountaineers (99) by 16 runs.
The excellent batting of the Pro50 match on Wednesday was followed by equally poor batting for the Twenty20 match on Thursday.
A poor total of 115 runs by Mid-West Rhinos was too much for Mountaineers, who could muster only 98. There was good bowling and fielding, but there was no excuse for the feeble batting of both teams.
When the match began, Mid-West Rhinos, with nine points, had only a minute chance of overtaking Mountaineers, with eighteen points, and with only one more match left. It soon appeared that that chance had disappeared.
Mountaineers put on their off-spinner Tapiwa Mufudza to bowl the first over, a plan that succeeded as he persuaded Jaik Mickleburgh to hit a ball down the throat of deep square leg.
Then came three overs of ascendancy for Mid-West Rhinos as Vusimuzi Sibanda and Brendan Taylor flayed the bowling. But they were ‘death or glory’ innings when their team needed one of these two senior batsmen to stay on and play a major innings, and there was to be no glory to either. They both drove catches to mid-off, for 20 and 17 respectively, leaving their team on 45 for three in the sixth over.
Malcolm Waller and Peter Moor tried to consolidate by adding 36 in five-and-a-half overs, but both got out in the teens, and the downhill slide continued, with the weak tail living up to its reputation. Edward Rainsford managed 10 not out, but without any of the boundaries that have at times made him famous. The total was a mangy-looking 115 for nine wickets.
The bowlers shared the wickets almost evenly, the best figures being two for 14 by Tendai Chatara off his four overs.
Mountaineers were not under great pressure with such a target, so they just cruised at the start of the innings. Mark Pettini had most of the strike and the runs, with Hamilton Masakadza having scored just five off nine balls from a total of 27 when he was dismissed. Shortly afterwards, however, Pettini skied a catch to depart for 24 – which was destined to be the highest innings of the match - and Mountaineers were in danger of letting their opponents back into the game.
Timycen Maruma hit a brisk 18, including a huge six out of the ground and almost into the road. But soon after he was out, Kevin Kasuza was brilliantly run out by Richard Muzhange. Kudzai Sauramba was trapped leg-before-wicket and the score was 59 for five in the 12th over, with the required run rate mounting.
After 15 overs, the score was only 74 for six, with more than eight runs an over now needed.
The batsmen were getting desperate and Mid-West Rhinos fielded superbly, increasing the pressure. With two overs left, the last two wickets needed to score 28 to win. Natsai M’shangwe made a gallant attempt, with 21 not out off 16 balls, but it was too late for Mountaineers, who lost a match they should have won.
Mathematically, Mid-West Rhinos still have a chance of playing in the final, but their poor batting in this match so damaged their overall run rate that the feat is next to impossible.