Brilliant Ballance leads Mid West Rhinos win
Mid West Rhinos 252 for 8 (Ballance 135*, Sibanda 52, Hondo 3-31) beat Mashonaland Eagles 248 for 5 (Masvaure 62, Zhuwawo 57, Mutizwa 50) by 2 wickets
Gary Ballance, nephew of former Zimbabwe batsman Dave Houghton, announced his arrival on the Zimbabwe cricket scene with a magnificent 135 not out to lead Mid West Rhinos to a two-wicket victory over Mashonaland Eagles at Kwekwe.
His innings proved the difference between the sides after Mashonaland Eagles had played the better cricket through the match. Their batting was more consistent, their bowling more accurate and their fielding better but Ballance's hundred snatched the game from their grasp.
Mid West Rhinos asked the visitors to bat first but could not find the bowling strength to take advantage of it. Taurai Muzarabani strove manfully, but the others were not able to keep the runrate in check. They had a lucky break when Friday Kasteni ran out Simbarashe Gupo early on, but the next three batsmen all weighed in with fifties.
Cephas Zhuwawo's 57 off 62 balls gave Mashonaland Eagles a breezy start, but he was overshadowed by Forster Mutizwa's cameo 50 from 37 balls. Between them Prince Masvaure was more sedate but anchored the innings solidly with 62, helped no end by the generous Mid West Rhinos fielders who dropped several chances.
Chasing 248 looked a daunting prospect but Ballance made it look easy. Tottering after two wickets fell quickly for 21, he shared a vital stand of 123 with his captain Vusi Sibanda, who hit a fine 58 off 55 balls.
Had Ballance fallen, Mashonaland Eagles would have taken the match but he stayed to the end, hitting another boundary to win the match with three balls to spare in the final over. He faced only 121 balls and hit 12 fours and three sixes.