by John Ward at Mutare Sports Club
Southern Rocks (174) lost to Mountaineers (178/3) by seven wickets.
This was a David versus Goliath contrast, with the Goliath of Mountaineers having just won the Logan Cup through their superb play throughout the season, while the David of Southern Rocks, after a superb start to their Pro50 season that was enough to get them through to the final, had in recent weeks quite lost their verve and entered the match after a string of defeats.
Rocks did at least avoid the disaster that many predicted for them, but nevertheless still lost quite easily to the much stronger Mountaineers team. It was a notable occasion as the national one-day final, but lacked the excitement and intensity that should be associated with such matches.
As so often happens in such battles, the Goliaths won the toss and put Southern Rocks in to bat, although the toss was not seen as giving either side a great advantage in these conditions – a good pitch and warm sunny weather.
The visitors’ troubles started almost immediately, as after four overs they were five for two wickets, both to Tendai Chatara, who had Innocent Kaia (2) caught at the wicket and Charles Kunje (0) caught at second slip.
Tendai Maruma soon followed for seven but, as so often, Richmond Mutumbami looked like standing in the gap to revive the innings. He moved to 15 before he played a ball into the covers and set off for a risky single, only to be sent back by Roy Kaia but unable to regain his ground. The score was now 25 for four and Southern Rocks’ hopes had now received a deathblow.
Chatara had an opening spell of two for 25 in seven overs, while Shingirai Masakadza, pinning the batsmen down, had one for eight off six. There was a brief respite for Southern Rocks as Roy Kaia and Prince Masvaure put on 35, until Natsai M’shangwe trapped Masvaure leg before wicket (lbw) for 17.
Kaia quickly followed for 25, going for a sweep against the same bowler and dragging the ball on to his stumps and then Trevor Garwe (2) was caught in the deep: 78 for seven and defeat beckoned.
Finally there came a fightback. Luke Jongwe began it, taking the attack to the bowlers, and then Tendai Chisoro joined in. The bowling had perhaps lost some of its intensity and there were several instances of careless fielding, but these two batsmen made the most of their opportunities. They added 63 in 17 overs until they attempted a risky single, and some brilliant fielding by Wellington Masakadza ran out Jongwe for 32.
Tinashe Panyangara (12) added a useful 33 with Chisoro before he sliced a catch into the covers off Chatara, and then Tafadzwa Kamungozi was bowled first ball, making the total 174 off 48.3 overs. Chatara began the job and now he finished it with his incisive quick bowling, taking four for 37, while M’shangwe took two wickets.
Mountaineers opened with Kevin Kasuza and Kudzai Sauramba, with Tinotenda Mawoyo unable to play due to injury. They put on 46 together, despite some edgy shots against the high-quality bowling of Panyangara and Garwe, before Sauramba (26) was out lbw playing forward to a ball from Kamungozi. Kasuza did not last much longer, as he reached to drive a ball outside the off stump and was caught in the covers for 14: 47 for two.
Hamilton Masakadza and Timycen Maruma then knuckled down and dug their side out of trouble, able to take their time with no pressure of run rate to distract them.
They took the score to 119 before Masakadza (39) drove straight and Roy Kaia dived low to take a superb return catch. Maruma went on to record his fifty off 69 balls, and not even the return of Panyangara could halt the Mountaineers’ progress towards victory. In fact, M’shangwe pulled him over square leg for a superb six, and then Maruma did the same with an even bigger shot.
Minutes later, Mountaineers had wrapped up their seven-wicket victory and thus became the first franchise to win both the Logan Cup and also a one-day trophy.
They were well led and well managed, and had the great advantage of being the only franchise to keep all their leading players from last season.
Maruma, 69 not out with the bat off 80 deliveries, and Chatara with the ball were the leading players on this occasion.