Coca Cola Pro50 in Masvingo: Mashonaland Eagles defeated Southern Rocks by six wickets.
Forster Mutizwa used his national team form to drive Mash Eagles to victory in their first match of the new season over the Southern Rocks in a Coca-Cola Cup one-day match played at Masvingo Sports Club on Saturday. Southern Rocks put up an impressive fight but some emphatic batting from the Eagles broke down their fortress on home soil.
The Zimbabwe domestic one-day competition has reverted to the 50-over format; last season the competition was played over 40 overs per side. However, the match in Masvingo had to be reduced to 40 each when rain had stopped play after 2.1 overs, when Rocks had scored five runs without loss. Mash Eagles won the toss and sent the home side in to bat, a decision that could have been prompted by the then overcast conditions – rare but ideal on a typical flat Masvingo wicket.
The young fast bowler, Nathan Waller, toppled the top order, removing Chamunorwa Chibhabha (15) in the 13th over, followed by Roy Kaia (29) in the 15th. Among a list of player movements this season is Prince Masvaure who left the Eagles for the Rocks, and his was the first wicket to fall, bowled by Trevor Garwe. Mark Vermeulen was the top scorer for the Rocks with a trademark proficient 41 runs from 71 deliveries, featuring three boundaries. Southern Rocks were 186 for eight after 40 overs. Visiting captain Stuart Matsikenyeri, on his debut match as the Mash Eagles skipper, tried out seven bowlers, the pick being Waller with two wickets for 18 from eight overs.
Mutizwa was sensational as he shared two 48-run partnerships and was the mainstay of the Eagles’ brisk pursuit. He partnered with Matsikenyeri (28) and then Mark Mbofana (24*). The former Mountaineers right-arm medium-pacer, Tinashe Panyangara, was a worthy signing for the Rocks as he took the fight to the Eagles, claiming three for 28 off his allotted eight overs. Mutizwa however was unstoppable with a well-played unbeaten 73 from 92 balls. Eagles reached their target in 37.5 overs with six wickets in hand.
Many of the bowlers appear not have utilised their off-season time profitably as a total of 60 extras were conceded in the match, making up 16% of the total runs scored, with five penalty runs being awarded to the Eagles for the batsmen persistently running on the pitch in the Southern Rocks innings.