Pro50 match at Harare Sports Club: Mashonaland Eagles (298/7) beat Southern Rocks (194) by 104 runs.
This match, at Harare Sports Club, was played between the two top teams in the Pro50 Competition, Southern Rocks (19 points at the start of the match) and Mashonaland Eagles (13).
It would probably have been a very close match, except for the one outstanding individual performance – a brilliant innings of 130 runs from Zimbabwe top-order batsman Sikandar Raza Butt.
Mashonaland Eagles won the toss and decided to bat, trusting their home pitch, which has been much more benign in the mornings during the last couple of years. The weather was largely cloudy but dry.
Tinashe Panyangara and Trevor Garwe tested the batsmen in their opening spell, however, and Chamunorwa Chibhabha in particular struggled for runs before departing for 9, to Garwe, in the 10th over.
His opening partner Joylord Gumbie was more fluent, and he made 33 off 46 balls before being caught at slip. His was to be the second-highest score of the innings. This brought in Raza to join Nick Welch, who showed some good strokes in his 32 off 35 balls, bringing up the hundred in the 24th over. Raza, who has not shown his best form as an opener, was moved down the order with success. He took a while to play himself in and was overshadowed by Welch for a while, but then began to attack the bowling.
He found a good partner in Regis Chakabva, the pair adding 106 in just over 15 overs, as the lack of depth in the Southern Rocks bowling again became evident. Chakabva eventually fell for 32, skying a catch that was very well held by Luke Jongwe at extra cover running back, the score then being 212 for four in the 40th over.
Raza had already reached his fifty off 51 balls, and now went on to reach his first List A century off 89. He had scored 130 off 106 balls when he stepped back to try to slash a ball from Roy Kaia through the covers and was bowled. He hit 11 fours and four sixes, two of them fine strokes over extra cover.
The lower order added 43 runs in the last five overs without any real fireworks, apart from a six by Brighton Mugochi off the first ball he faced. The final total was 298 for seven, the highest total scored in this competition so far this season. Garwe, with three for 55, was the most successful bowler, while Panyangara, without any luck, was the most economical, going for 38 in his nine overs.
Against Mashonaland Eagles was the fact that they have at present a depleted seam bowling attack, and the openers Innocent Kaia and Tendai Maruma tried to take advantage of this, with some attacking but rather risky batting. With such a large target, they had little option. Early on Maruma escaped with a skier that two fielders declined to attempt, but Innocent Kaia, after scoring 20 off 15 balls, drove a catch straight at mid-off.
Hard though they tried, the chase faltered, with Kudzai Maunze going for 12 and Maruma for 23. Richmond Mutumbami, on his early return after breaking a finger, swept a ball straight to midwicket and departed for 12, making the score 87 for four. Roy Kaia made 25; 125 for five, and yet more instances of the old failing of good batsmen getting a start but failing to build on it.
There was no realistic hope of victory now, but Jongwe and Garwe hit out boldly, and several catches went down in the field. Jongwe raced to a fifty off 48 balls, reaching it with a six, before being well caught at long on. The pair had added 49 runs in 5.2 overs. Mugochi polished off the tail quickly, finishing with three for 20. Leg-spinner Tinotenda Mutombodzi took three for 30, making six wickets for the spinners.